11 Interesting Mystical Creatures from Norse Mythology And Ancient Folklore

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Updated on: Educator Review By: Michelle Connolly

Mystical creatures are unreal; they are born from the pure imagination of artists in ancient times, just like dragons and centaurs. These creatures have appearances that could never exist in our real life. They are usually a bizarre mix between human beings and mighty animals. The purpose was to create a strong being to defeat the evil in the world or even be the evil itself.

For many centuries, people around the world have been narrating folktales about mermaids, sirens, and other creatures from different legends and myths. This time, we are focusing on the creatures in Norse mythology, the legends, and the myths of Norway

Norse mythology is part of what is known as the Scandinavian culture. This culture encompasses Norway, Iceland, Denmark, and Sweden. The mystical creatures we are about to tell tales about are famous in Scandinavian mythology, yet they make the most appearances in folktales of Norse mythology. 

1. Dwarves

Dwarves or dwarfs are tiny creatures resembling human beings, but they possess some supernatural superpowers. They made an appearance in different tales across the world, but they are a constant mystical creature in Norse mythology. It is said that the origins of the dwarves come from Scandinavian folklore, yet there is a debate around this fact.

Dwarfs always act as powerful assistants to heroes or gods and goddesses. They usually have special weapons with incredible magical powers that help them along the way. Another power these little creatures have is the ability to shape-shift. They would turn into otters, fishes, and other animals in many stories. There were times when they also transformed into objects. 

2. Draugr

Draugr is a famous creature that people refer to as the Viking zombie. The naming is because the Vikings are a massive part of Norse mythology and a Draugr is like a zombie. Both creatures are neither dead nor alive; thus, they are referred to as the undead. 

The draugr is the spirit of someone who was supposed to be dead but somehow made its way back to this world, becoming undead. This creature lives in its grave, most commonly guarding the valuable objects buried with them. According to Norse mythology, a draugr is a warrior who lost his life on a battlefield. 

3. Huldra

Hulder or Huldra is a word with ancient Scandinavian roots that mean “secret,” and this describes exactly what this creature is. The Huldra is a woman with a tail of a cow and a hollow back that lives in the forest. She transforms into a fascinatingly beautiful woman and seduces human men so that she can marry one of them. 

When a huldra marries a human, her tail disappears, and she starts having an average body. According to Norse mythology, there is a whole race of huldras living in the forests or the mountains, and it is not just a single woman. There is always a folktale about beautiful women luring men in. While Huldra is one of those women, she is not a hostile creature. 

4. Ratatoskr

Ratatoskr is a female squirrel in Norse mythology. It is among the famous mystical creatures that appear in many folktales in Norway. According to legends, this tiny creature lived in a trunk of Yggdrasil, a sacred world tree quite enormous in size, connecting all nine worlds of the Norse universe. It is sometimes referred to as the Tree of Life.

This tree is home to many mythical creatures; however, the ratatoskr remains the most significant. The role of this female squirrel is to deliver messages between the serpents living at the tree’s roots and the eagles that fly above. This squirrel is often red and has sharp teeth and pointed ears. 

5. Sleipnir

Odin is prominent in all Gods of Norse mythology. He owns many magical things, including Sleipnir, another mythological creature appearing in Nordic folktales. The Sleipnir is a horse with eight legs popularly known to be ridden by God Odin, whom, for your information, Wednesday is named after.

Sleipnir is often called the magical horse of Odin. It is known for its exceptional might and unprecedented durability. Not to mention that he could run as fast as light and could also fly when needed. This horse is the symbol of power and speed in Norse mythology. According to legends, he is grey, nice-looking, and can go places other horses cannot. 

6. Jötnar

Jötnar is a group of mythical giants that are always in conflict with the mighty gods. They are known to be enormous, with hideous features and excellent strength. According to Norse mythology, Jötnar lives in Jötunheimr, a realm among the nine worlds of the Norse Universe. This realm, in particular, represents darkness and death. 

More precisely, the Jötunheimr world is always described in folktales as cold and dark, explaining the hostile nature of the Jötnar. Due to the depressive world in which the Jötnar live, all of them are naturally evil. They cause great destruction wherever they go.

7. Jörmungandr

Serpents are scary creatures, but things can get even more frightening when modifications happen, making them larger and invincible. In Norse mythology, we call this creature the Jörmungandr; in some cases, it is called the Midgard Serpent or World Serpent. According to folktales, this serpent’s role is to encircle the Midgard, where humans live, and protect it. 

Midgard was the name of the Earth in Norse mythology, claiming it is a small island in the middle of the ocean. Thus, it needed protection, and that was the serpent’s role. Legends have it that the Jörmungandr can change its size by expanding or shrinking. It is also too big that it surrounds our world and can easily grasp its tail.

8. Elves

Elves are creatures present in almost every mythology. We have also seen them in movies and heard about them in bedtime stories during Christmas. They are little beings that can create valuable objects by using their magic. According to old folktales, elves kidnapped babies from the human world and replaced them with baby elves.

They look like human beings except for the ears that look like leaves. Moreover, there are two types of elves, Ljósálfar, which means the light elves, and Dökkálfar, the dark elves. As their names suggest, each type can control either light or darkness. They are different from Christmas elves who live at the North Pole, are small-bodied, and always look like a child no matter how old they get.

9. Fossegrim

Water creatures are plenty in Norse mythology, and the renowned fossegrim is one of them, and it’s also popular in the whole Scandinavian folklore. Also known as the grim, it is a spirit that lives in the water, singing with an enchanting voice and usually playing an instrument, the fiddle or the violin. 

According to old tales, the Grims played music to attract women and children to the water, where they drown and die. They are similar to the sirens and mermaids, but the difference is that the sirens only lure men. The grim is depicted as a very handsome young man, and it is not always a harmful creature. In some stories, they were just water musicians who gave music lessons in exchange for food.  

10. Kraken

Kraken is another sea creature in Norse mythology that is quite popular worldwide. But this time, we are talking about an invincible monster. Kraken origins go back to Scandinavian folklore and are the giant malicious creatures ever depicted by a human. According to legends, this monster lives on the coastline of Norway.

The Kraken is usually portrayed as a huge water creature that looks like a giant squid or octopus. It lives in the water and attacks ships. According to Nordic tales, krakens have giant tentacles extending over a mile. 

11. Valkyries

Valkyrie is a mystical creature famous in Norse mythology and other Scandinavian folklore. Folktales profess that the valkyries are a group of maidens that the god Odin send to battlefields to choose a valuable warrior to have a place in Valhalla. They have the appearance of attractive women who ride on horses floating over the battlefield, waiting to take the souls of those who die.

Also spelt as Walkyrie, it is a female spirit whose purpose is to guide the souls of those who die in battle to Valhalla, the hall of the god Odin. Valkyries’ role is to help warriors reach Valhalla after they die, but they cannot interact socially with any human being. They also cannot have romantic relationships due to being busy guiding souls. 

Ultimately, Norse mythology is full of exciting folktales that you will enjoy reading. It also embraces great mystical creatures you may have never heard of and would like to learn about. 

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