Estonian Folklore

Niina Pekantytär

I´ve had a soft spot for Estonian mythology and folktales for as long as I can remember. Essentially same thing that pulls me towards Estonian folktales pulls me towards all Finno-Baltic legends. Stories encourage people to examine their connection to nature and respect the invisible spirits that live around us. Here are some fascinating creatures from Estonian myths and legends.

Metsik the Forest Guardian

​Metsik is the elf of the forest. In the primaeval Estonian tales, Metsik were wood elves that lived everywhere surrounded by trees, from shallow swamp forests to the coniferous woodlands. When Metsik appears to people they take a form of a wild animal, a bird or a handsome tree. A singing bird who truly is Metsik sings songs that humans can understand. They can also understand the language of the aspen tree that rustles in the wind for that aspen tree is Metsik. Metsik is the guardian spirit of the woodlands. They do not approve of cutting trees, burning fires and above all trashing. When people enter the woods with cruel intentions Metsik misleads them away from their sacred home.

Allikaravitseja The Healing Waters

Allikaravitseja is a healer spirit who lives in the hot springs. In the boiling waters, there is also a great amount of sand which can seemingly create a form of a human body. Reflections from the nearby trees and bushes may transform into human figures as well. Spirit reveals itself to the one´s who is carrying a ritual. They toss a coin into the spring and name their concern. Spirit of the spring is also pleased when scraps of silver are left as a sacrifice. Allikaravitseja rarely reveals herself but one can hear her voice which sounds like a whisper coming from the water.

Hiid The Giant

​Hiid has two meanings in the Estonian language. Hiid can mean a sacred grove, an old pagan worshipping place in nature. Hiid is also a king or a guardian spirit of the sacred grow. It is a giant-sized elf who has a low deep voice and they speak all languages of humans, trees and animals. Hiid can transform itself and take the shape of bull elk, high tree or a mountain. Sometimes Hiid can fall asleep for several years and turn into a hill. A giant boulder that no one ever recognizes and wakes him up.

Soovana The Saddened Mist

​Soovana is the guardian spirit of wetlands. He appears inside the mist or a bog. Sometimes the mist takes unusual shapes which probably inspired the legend of Soovana. If bog turf has an unusual amount of cranberries Soovana has cranberries growing in his hair. He is not to be disturbed for the experiences periods of sadness and melancholy and even picking cranberries might anger him.

Murumemm Mother of the Meadows

Murumemm is the protector of fields and farms. She is very interested in the well-being of people and shares old folk wisdom with them. Murumemm loves to take care of the land and doing things together. She is the caretaker of bees which are her sacred animals. Murumemm is also a merry figure and she loves dancing.

Kivialune The Cave Spirit

Kivialune is a small-sized spirit who lives and meditates in stone caves. He loves silence and can be quiet and motionless for days and in the end, he appears into his surroundings. He remains in the darkest part of the stone cave. To get rid of unwanted strangers Kivialune sends a large stone roll down from his location. He does not wish to harm the unwanted guest. He just wants to frighten them.

Saarevaht The Solitary Islander

​Saarevaht is the keeper of islands. He feels a connection to the sea and water. Saarevaht locates himself in remote places. Often he is the keeper spirit of the lighthouse. He communicates with plants and can transform himself into a fox or an eagle. He is a kind peaceful spirit and likes to show people around his home island. He gets angered by carelessness and rudeness.

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Folklorist and historian. Alcott essayist. A host of the Little Women Podcast.

Finland, MN

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