Friday, April 4, 2014

Scandinavian’s Myling

A Myling is a restless child spirit that was abandoned in a remote area by its parents because it was unwanted or they couldn’t care for it.

Another nickname for the Myling is utburd, this word means, “that which is outside.” This refers to the unspoken family practice of child infanticide.

The children’s fairy tale Hansel and Gretel does reflect a truth for at one time all over the world infanticide was committed. Children were left to die often within hours of being born. In some cultures, the majority of these infants were girls. This is based upon the old belief that boys were of more use than girls. *

The most menacing ghost story in Scandinavian folklore is about the Myling. These stories reflect the real world practice of child abandonment.

Because these children or infants were abandoned, they were not given proper burials. It is said this is one reason why they rise up as ghosts.  

Another reason given is these children left to die--return as enraged ghosts seeking revenge. In some stories, it is even mentioned they haunt the dwellings of the parents who abandoned them.

A typical Myling story has this restless child spirit waylay a lone traveler, at night, in the woods, or another remote place. This spirit then jumps on their victim’s back and demands to be taken to a graveyard.

The Myling, despite being the spirit of a child, is described as being an enormous spirit. As their unfortunate victim carries them, it is said they become heavier and heavier.

The reason for this is because they take on more of a human form as their host or victim nears the graveyard. Some versions of this story state the Myling would suck the life force out of their victims, making them weaker.

One example states they would become such a heavy burden their victim would literally sink into the ground as they walked.

Even though the Myling is considered a scary ghost, they rarely kill their victims. The one exception to this is if their victim was unable to bear them all the way to the cemetery--they would die of exertion.

What these spirits seek is to be buried properly in consecrated ground. One story even mentions when the remains of these children are found and then given a proper burial, they do not return as ghosts, but instead, rest in eternal peace.

This Scandinavian story is an excellent example of how ghost stories do reflect people’s lives and beliefs at various times in history. Why these stories were told was to make people more aware of infanticide.

* Infanticide is still practiced today in some parts of the world.

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