Vittra

I’ve been immensely tired after my surgery and the BP thing but now I’m starting to finally feel a bit like myself again. I have however been thinking and even writing quite a bit during this time, drafts, that hopefully will become posts in the future. But this one will be about vittra, or they will never leave me alone…
I’ve had this feeling, and by feeling I mean obsessive compulsion, to write about vittra for a long time now. They come up in conversations, they pop up in things I read, even though I was really searching for something else. I keep stumbling over stories wherever I look, so, without further ado I give you…

Vittra

A vitter (plural: vittra) is a member of a species also known as the underground people. They are a folkloric belief here in Sweden, especially in the north and they are said to be living their lives parallel to us.
The vittra are mortal, they can die, just like us. They have children, just like us, they keep cattle, just like us, well, at least like us in the olden days. They have dogs. They are just slightly smaller than us in stature. They wear clothes, mostly grey, yellow and red from what I can gather.
If I should “translate” the old folkloric beliefs into modern views on the paranormal I would say the vittra live in another dimension, one very close to our own.

Vitter with her cattle

It’s VERY hard to separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to vittra culture. The belief in trolls has blended with the vittra legends and they seem to be very similar today, but I don’t believe that was the case once. The trolls as well as the vittra are said to hate Christianity and can’t stand to hear the name of Jesus.
The trolls are not part of the vittra family I believe. In fact I have this weird idea that the trolls belong to the ancient giant family within Norse mythology. The vittra I believe comes from the Vanir race, which Frej and Freya for example belonged to. Humans come from the original Aesirs, Thor and Odin and those guys.
I’m speaking mythologically here. This is what I believe was the foundation of the various folkloric beliefs.

The vittra could steal cattle as well as people, bergtagning, as it was called and I wrote about it here. A vitter-taken cow would be gone for three days and always reappear at the exact spot it had disappeared.
But humans also had ways of stealing the vittra’s cattle. A vitter cow could be acquired by throwing cold steel over it. A vitter cow was a real prize as it would always give exactly as much milk as it took to fill the bucket, no more, no less.

The ghost phenomenon also pops up in my head when I think about vittra. A lot of the time people have somehow witnessed vittra they have heard them perform the same tasks as we do. A lot of vittra activity is intimately tied to transhumance. But unlike regular transhumance, in Sweden, the cattle goes grazing only in the summer, while spending the winter in the barn.

In the spring it was common for either a daughter of the farm or possibly a young maid to move up to the “fäbod” with the cattle and goats and sheep. The fäbod was a cottage usually located on a higher altitude surrounded by lots of meadows and forests where the animals could spend the summer grazing and getting fat. This was because the grass growing near the farm was needed to make hay for the winter.
You did not want to arrive at the fäbod too early in the spring or leave too late in the fall because when humans weren’t there the vittra was.
Many are the stories of people arriving or leaving at the wrong time and hearing the vittra hearding their cattle, packing up their supplies and generally making the same noises human make.
This is what makes me think of ghosts, the residual haunting phenomenon in particular.
For generations people had been performing the same tasks at the fäbod. Whatever causes residual hauntings COULD be responsible for the vittra noises people were hearing. They could be a sort of replay of past events.

But people sometimes saw the vittra as well. Most commonly the women, who were prettier than human women an often dressed in red or yellow. When a vitter man was seen he would mostly wear grey. (typical man, no imagination…)

An interesting feature in the vittra mythology is the fact that they are said to be of the Lucifer kin. Whatever that means. Don’t go jumping to conclusions such as they are evil or something. Not all legends about Lucifer refer to him as an evil being. There is no = between him and satan.
In one legend, Lucifer was a djinn in paradise, a creature made from smokeless flame, who simply refused to bow down to us humans as he considered us to be made from a lesser “material” (clay) than him. God got mad and threw him out of Eden and a certain number of his kin is said to have followed him. This legend in no way states that he became the devil, it only claims that God took his hand from him and he had to make a living on his own.
This would in a way fit right in with the vittra lore. A species that developed parallel to us but who is cut off from God and therefore doesn’t like to hear about him.
Obviously I’m just letting my imagination wander here, but what else can you really do when you move in such etherical and non-substantial realms? Getting hard evidence of these things seem pretty much impossible.

A strange thing is that the southern “border” for the vittra beliefs goes right through here where I live, Helsingland. South of it the troll belief is much more widespread and north of it we find much more vittra legends. Except in the northermost part of Lapland, as far up in Sweden as you can come. Suddenly here the troll belief comes back. Why? Well, there might be an explanation for this.
When I saw this sketch I knew exactly what it was. Every inherited instinct inside me said it loud and clear.
This is what real trolls look like! It’s almost like I know this because I’ve seen it, but there might have been a picture in a book I read as a kid or something, but this is it!
The thing though is that it isn’t a troll. It’s a sketch made by a member of an expedition to the Russian Kola peninsula. To Lake Lovozero to be exact. An expedition to find the “Afonya”, the Yeti, the Alma. The Russian version of Bigfoot. This is the creature they saw.

I’m not going to get into this particular subject any more in this post though, I just thought I’d mention it because it was relevant.

So what are the vittra? Are they just one thing, a race very similar to us? Or does the term vittra include other beings as well?
There are certain features within other folkloric beliefs that lead me to think they are all of the vittra family. Except trolls. Trolls are in a league of their own and are most likely Bigfoots or something. Except trolls are supposed to have tails. But that might just be a mix up due to the facts that a lot of other folkloric creatures were thought to have tails.
Maybe, like humans have developed through several stages, the vittra did too? We had Homo Floresiensis, the hobbit man, maybe the same thing occured in the vittra family tree? Below I have written a little bit about the smaller creatures we believed existed.

Gnomes, tomtar as we call them, are supposed to be some kind of small entity living in the woods or on farms, being either helpful or hateful depending on how you treat them. If they were ever seen it was usually as a small grey shadow disappearing around the corner. Their size is said to be between about 10 cm to 1 meter. They are said to wear grey clothes with a red kinda bobble hat.
They take care of the animals on the farm and help out with various chores, as long as they are treated with respect and given porridge to eat.
They tend to take a special interest in horses and like the Mara (the Mare, the evil creature that rides people at night) it can sometimes get the urge to take the horse out for a midnight ride. In such cases you would find the horse sweaty and tired in the morning and with their mane braided. (See, not everything that braids horse manes is a Bigfoot… )
If the tomte is happy and content on the farm it can sometimes, in its eagerness to help, steal things from the neighbors. On the other hand, if it’s not happy it might take things away from the farm.

Related to tomtar are vättar. Even smaller and a bit grumpier.
They don’t exactly hate humans but they just really prefer our absence. They don’t like it when you talk about them so I’ll be as brief as possible.
They really resent having scolding hot water poured on top of them (who doesn’t?) so before you pour out the dish washing water outside you’d better stomp the ground and call out to warn them. You do NOT want an angry vätte on your hands!
Also, if you drop something on the floor, be it bread crumbs or money or whatnot, you do not pick it up until the vätte has had time to take what it wants. Things on the floor belongs to the vätte.

Whatever it is, vittra, tomte, vätte, it doesn’t like when you put furniture right up against the wall. This I have experienced myself, many times even.
The vittra are said to have certain trails in the woods and land, and that you had better not build your house in their path or all sorts of misfortunes would befall you.
The same seems to be true for the non-human beings that dwell inside human buildings. They seem to move along the walls and if something is blocking their way they will knock until you move it.
Yes, this is actually really true. Many times I have found myself having to get up and pull my bed out a little bit from the wall, since something knocks on it from underneath. It always stops too when the bed is pulled out. Weird.
Apparently my tomte or whatever it is is not very happy with me. Things disappear an awful lot, especially scissors and nail clippers for some absurd reason!
The house I used to live in, further up the same street was totally pissing me off at times! Something mischievous was definitely around and its favorite pastime was to hide my scissors. One time in particular was extremely annoying.
I had just finished cutting my hair (Yes I do that, it’s cheaper and you get the cut you want) and my boyfriend at the time was up for a haircut. I had put the scissors down for a minute to go have a drink or something and when I came back the scissors had ceased to exist. I mean completely. I looked EVERYWHERE! They were nowhere! Incredibly angry I had to force myself to talk nicely to the little freaks (gnomes), because as long as you yell you’re SO not getting anything back. I asked them very nicely to return the scissors because we needed to use them and then we went outside and sat in the lawn furniture to calm down a bit. When we came back after 5 minutes the scissors were right there, on the floor, right in front of us as we entered the room. There is NO way we would have missed them had they been there when we left.
And this was just one of the types of shenanigans they’d be up to at that place. They also liked to mess with electrical appliances and one night during a violent downpour they opened up the skylight window fully when I was asleep which caused me to get out of bed into a minor ocean…
Pesky little things!

There is a place out in the woods around here where something weird has been going on. On a trail called Mostigen that has been around for hundreds of years, there is one spot I hadn’t been able to pass. All summer I have been in those woods. I love it up there. But there is this particular spot where I always was overcome by forest panic (which I intend to write about in a post in the future). A creepy feeling would come over me and stop me in my tracks and then escalate to an almost panic which promptly made me retreat from the trail rather hastily. I even tried going there from the other direction but was completely unable to proceed through the woods there too. In between there two places where I feel the sinister resistance is a patch of forest that looks just the same on google maps as the rest of the forest in that area. I now know that it’s different. I recently managed to pass through those woods.


This time I talked…to the woods, to whatever it was. I said I would like to pass and that I was a good person who loves nature and wouldn’t hurt it. Then I walked up to a nearby clear cut logging area to collect some moss for Christmas decorations (which I will return later) and then I returned. I started walking the trail, feeling just a little creeped out this time and not encountering the peculiar resistance I had felt before. I took the above photos because I realized that while the whole forest around this area was being maintained, logged at regular intervals, looked after, this area was completely unkempt. Wild. Dense. There is no way a person could have moved through that patch of woods. It’s November now and the deciduous trees have dropped their leaves and still it looked totally compact. Nothing has been logged there in a very long time.
Why has this little patch of forest been left untouched I wonder. Are others experiencing the same discomfort on that spot as I do? Is there really something there? Is it a vitter trail perchance? And why was I allowed to pass this time?

Geez, almost 2500 words already… Why do I write such long posts? Well I felt compelled to write about the vittra. Now I have and I hope they are pleased? Otherwise I may have to start feeding them porridge…

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2 thoughts on “Vittra”

  1. a very interesting view on Vittras….. I am currently writing my 3rd musical project and it will all be revolving around Northern Scandinavian Folklore creatures, Vittras included too. So am really enjoying all these views that people have to say about them… it all helps in collecting info to write the lyrics!

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