The Draug is a creature from Norwegian folklore, primarily in areas along the coast. Originally, he was a dead person whether in a grave mound or venturing out to haunt the living. Later, it became common to limit this creature to the spirit of a fisherman who died at sea and wasn’t buried in hallowed ground.
What does Norwegian folklore say about the Draug?
It’s said that he wore an old fisherman’s outfit but had a clump of seaweed for a head. His skin looks like a mixture of fish scales and rotting flesh and he has a huge mouth with razor sharp teeth and tentacles for legs.
Unlike ghosts, he has a physical body with superhuman strength. The Draug also has many magical abilities, for example, that he can change the appearance, size and shape, control the weather, look into the future and he can walk through stone as if it was air or water. This creature only has two interests, to guard its treasures under the sea and to drown helpless victims.
At sea, no one is safe from him, not even when they’re asleep, because he has the ability to penetrate into the dreams of the living and always leaves a palpable memory of his visit.
You can either see or hear the Draug and in both cases, it’s an omen of accident and death. He is always evil and dangerous. He foretold death for those who saw him and he would even pull them under in some cases.
He usually sails in half a boat with torn sails but he can also come up on land and follow you. In some stories, he wrestles with the human and will then pull him out to sea and drown him. If he’s successful in taking a belonging of someone like a mitten, it means that this person will, sooner or later die at sea.
His presence is also a sign of storms and bad weather, which often happened the next day. These signs can come as screams from the Draug. The seriousness of the omen depended on how many times he screams and how loud or ‘gargling’ the screams are. Some also say that hearing him by the shore can mean that bones, clothing, wood or the boat of someone who drowned has come ashore there.
On a nicer note, the painting of a Draug at the top was done by my husband’s paternal grandmother’s fiance (how’s that for a relation). It hangs on our hallway wall with another of his other paintings.
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