Monday, April 9

H is for Hiisi

I hope everyone had a Happy Easter! Today's trip takes us back to Finland we go for the letter H.

Name: Hiisi (originally meant "holy place" or "sacred grove")

Type: Goblin-like guardian spirit

Origin: Finnish mythology

Description: As seen by it's original name meaning, hiisi was originally seen as the awesomeness of nature. After Christian influence, they were seen as mean or at least horrifying evil spirits of small stature. They live near "salient promontories, ominous crevasses, large boulders, potholes, woods, hills, and other awesome geographical features or rough terrain." Hiisis (Finnish plural is hiidet) travel noisily, and if people don't get out of their way, they attack. Also, if a person left their door open, hiisis would go inside and steal something of his or her possessions.

In Finland's national epic, The Kalevala, Hiisi was one of the twelve sons of Kaleva. He is in Poems 13-14, when Lemminkäinen is after his elk.

Interesting Facts:  They were originally thought to be tall like giants, so their diminished size is kind of interesting. In Finnish, a giant's kettle is hiidenkimu, which means hiisi's churn. Also, in J.R.R. Tolkien's books, hiisi is used for the word goblin whereas orc is örkki.

An old folk saying is that one must put (and keep) their knives (puukkos) in their sheaths when entering someone's home. Otherwise a spirit of hiisi would enter the home in the empty sheath and create chaos.

Have you heard of hiisis before?

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