I Saw A Swedish Forest Spirit. (Or a naked woman)

I haven't given you guys a good Swedish ghost story since the Viking grabbed my butt earlier this year.  PREPARE TO BE SPOOKED.  Or turned on, depending on your particular fancies.

This actually happened back toward the very end of summer, after it got too cold to swim but not too cold for my bosses to go on a date night and leave me and the boys out in the Swedish forest in our summer house.  You know, the one with the ghost house.....

Since we only had a few precious days of short Swedish summer left, the boys and I went out trekking in the forest.  For those of you unfamiliar with Swedish forest, it's thick, murky, and full of trolls.  Seriously this place was intense.  I'd been through this patch of forest before but only with my boss, who spent time in the military and was a bona-fide outdoorsman.  I pride myself on being comfortable in the forest, but today I was not.

I was alone, in a spot I barely knew, with two kids under my protection and I was thoroughly creeped out.  Despite the fact that the sun was high, the woods were shady and we kept hearing loud thuds, and I just expected a moose to barrel out and destroy our lives any second.  The birds kept getting spooked, probably from our loud mouths, and every time a flock departed, cackling in a terrified way, I got even more uneasy.  Say what you want about it, I was raised a mountain girl and mountain girls in America carry guns.

So the uneasy feeling continued, and we got lost in thicker and thicker woods.  And then suddenly, the forest opened onto a lake.  More like a pond or a lagoon I guess, the whole thing was maybe 100 ft in diameter and a nearly perfect circle, a dip in the bare Swedish rock.  It was dark and shady and cold; the water at that time was just above the freezing point.  Swedish summer ain't no joke, they don't even care about supposedly warm temperatures.

And then we saw her.  The naked lady forest spirit.

Across from us, maybe sixty feet away, a woman sat naked on the rocks.  This isn't unfeasible in Sweden, nudity is pretty okay and I've encountered nudies before near water in the summer.  But there were a few oddities; this woman had no towel nearby, or no clothes laying on the bank that I could see.  She had long dark hair that was down and obviously wet, indicating she'd been swimming.  Which was INSANE.  I've jumped in 12 degree water and immediately screeched like a banshee and tore out of the ocean like a bat out of hell.  And we'd measured the temperature that day, I believe it was somewhere around 4 or 5 degrees C.

So miss naked lady saw us.  The boys looked at her but had no real opinion and soon were poking the water with rocks and sticks instead.  I sat down on the rock and marveled at how chilly it was.  The woman seemed agitated at seeing us there; she stood up and paced.  I can't explain how weird this was, because if she had wanted  to get our attention she could have waved or yelled, and if she wanted to stab us to death she could've turned around and walked away and circled the length of the lake/pond.  She did neither.

Instead, she backed away, never stopping watching us, and then paced some more.  She was like a dog or cat who sees a treat on the opposite end of a stream and would love to come closer but you know...water.  Which was strange seeing as how she had no problem being in the water before.  I watched her strange walking pattern for maybe three or four minutes, and by then I had seen enough.  I grabbed the boys and scrammed.  I was actually pretty terrified and spooked for the rest of the night.

Here's where things get fascinating.  I remembered that I wanted to tell this story on one of my favorite subreddits, so I did just that.  I expected to hear the 'was she hot' or 'score!' but what I didn't expect was a Swede to comment saying that it "sounds like you've met our Skogsrået (forest spirit)!"  Apparently this is your typical Scandinavian spirit; lives in the woods, can either be a pain in the ass or nice depending on how you treat her.

It gets weirder...for one thing, she's usually seen naked, and here's the real kicker: she has a tail or in some regions a hollowed-out tree bark back, and when interacting with people hides her back.  Not only have I never heard of this spirit--since my boss is a biologist and not a medicine man--but I had no idea about the 'hiding her back' part.  When I read about that I was pretty creeped out.

So there you have it.   Either huldras are real, and one was deciding what the hell to do with us intruders before we wisened up and scurried out of her probable sex den--the likely possibility--or, we saw a naked woman who may or may not have been on drugs and thought that water was an impenetrable fortress.  The less likely possibility.


  1. That is pretty badass. Definitely inspires the ol' neck hairs to stand at attention, but really just super interesting.

  2. Spooky!!!
    If I were a Swede, I would totally hang out in the forest naked, just to mess with travelers. ;)

  3. Duh, obviously a skogsrå! ;) Pretty much all mythological creatures in Scandinavia are nice enough as long as you're polite and don't try to hurt them in any way. Even trolls have been known to be helpful and friendly. Something to remember for next time, haha!

  4. Awesomely Over-ZealousDecember 18, 2013 at 8:51 AM

    I have to say its been a while since anything has captured my attention quite like this - this literally shook me to borderline tears (cant fully cry as I'm at work and can't look more crazy than I do on a regular basis).. Looking forward to completing your series and reading more about your blog - it is very inspiring and happy that you've made it to a better, healthier place. Have a great one Patricia! -Iva

  5. Ghosts scare me so bad. That picture creeps me out! (In a good, great story way)

  6. Thats so badass! No joke, i was reading about faeries in different cultures about, oh, 2 weeks ago! I love reading stuff like that! It's one of those thinhs you wish you'd encounter but when you do, its pretty fucking scary/creepy I'd imagine.