In the Hall of the Mountain King

I was reading about being spirited away by the Good People on Phantoms and Monsters.  Here in the North that same concept is called to be Bergtagen. Literally that means to be taken by the mountain.  The concept of being bergtagen was also used for someone who had been taken by trolls or vittra.

Immediately my mind went to The Hall of the Mountain King (above). The Mountain King was a natural spirit, an elemental who was said to dwell within the mountain, surrounded by his family and a court of trolls. He seemed to have a bad habit of stealing children when they happened upon his mountain. Young women were also a favorite of his as he, as most natural spirits, was a highly erotic being. The taken were treated to foods and beverages and if they ingested any of it they were stuck in the mountain or under ground. Often the people who had become taken were used as slaves, but it also happened that they formed romantic ties to the beings in the mountain.

I found a couple of old cases. Both of them took place in the 17th century.
Ribbingshof was a mansion in the province of Östergötland (East Gothland).
In the 1600’s the nobleman Axel von Schaar was living at Ribbingshof with his wife Brita and his daughter Anna-Martha. On a beautiful summer’s day Anna-Martha and her nanny went to the beach at Vassviken to play. After a while Anna-Martha noticed some pretty flowers growing on the meadow on the other side of the road. The nanny went to pick some flowers for her and returned shortly, only to find that Anna-Martha had disappeared.
In vain she looked for the child in all reasonable places nearby, then she returned to the mansion with the terrible news. Everyone in the village helped in the search but no trace of the girl was found.
A full year later a stable-boy went to collect horses by Vassviken. On a steep cliff on the eastern side of the mountain he saw the girl sitting.
Risking his life he managed to climb up the cliff, put the child over his shoulder and carry her home to Ribbingshof. Anna-Martha hadn’t grown at all in the year she had been bergtagen. Her clothes were the same they had been at the time of the disappearance, they weren’t even worn.
All she could ever say about her experience was “The old man… the old man…”
Her parents were convinced that supernatural powers had been involved in the girl’s disappearance. For this reason they sought the help of the church to have her engaged to a human man at only 4 years of age to free her from the power and influence of the trolls. Anna-Martha later married Johan Printzensköld.
During her first childbirth in 1687 she was at her parent’s at Ribbershof in a room with windows facing the Vassvik mountain. To everybody’s amazement she once cried: “Look, here comes the old man to take me away again.”

The other story is from Helsingland.
In August of 1694 a rumor was going around the village of Vi. The farmer Olof Eriksson’s daughter, Ingrid, had been bergtagen into the Långgärd Mountain.
According to the rumor, Ingrid had gone missing for 3-4 days the previous year as well. The people said Ingrid had become increasingly withdrawn before that. When she was out herding the cows she would no longer play on her birch bark horn. Like a dreamer she went there, listening to the cowbells and the murmur of the forest. Instead of dancing or talking at nights after work she would be wandering around the dark woods, and always in the same direction- towards the Långgärd Mountain.
When she returned home that time she told of how she had met the Mountain King. He was sitting on a rock at the end of the bog, just by the foot of the mountain. The moonlight reflected in the crystal crown on his head. He was wearing a silvery cape and was holding a flaming golden harp.
He smiled at her and played on his harp and everything became increasingly more beautiful. Wonderful smells of spring filled the air and she was filled with incredible joy.
The Mountain King sang a song to her about eternal youth, superior beauty and enjoyment. He sang about gold and glitter and jewels and all the wonderful things that would be given to a human woman if she entered his mountain hall.

He raised his hand, the mountain opened up and she was welcomed by etheric, flowing entities.
When Ingrid’s parents returned home after mass some days later they found her sitting on the front porch. She was pale and worn down and told them she had been inside the mountain where she had seen marvelous things. She said that even though they had offered her lots of foods and drinks but that she had managed to abstain, and therefore she had been able to hear the church bells ringing and walk out of the mountain.
Ingrid continued her daily work, but was again starting to feel down and weak a year after her return. Her concerned parents brought her to a wise old Finn in another village and he used all kinds of measures to cure her, Christian and others.

Ingrid felt better but there was still something having power over her. One day she complained that she knew something was going to happen to her again and that this time it would be for good.
One morning she went out into the woods to collect twigs and such and didn’t return.
Ingrid’s parents sought the help of the old Finn and another old wise man living further away. They both said she was inside the mountain and that the basket she had brought with her to collect twigs would be found just at the foot of the mountain. This turned out to be correct.
Many things were tried to release the girl from the mountain, such as having a rooster crow at the mountain, since the rooster symbolizes vigilance and alertness.
The priest and the whole congregation gathered at the mountain, and with Godly words and songs they tried to  defeat the evil forces of the mountain.
Alas, it was to no avail. Ingrid was bergtagen and never returned home again.


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