The Magician’s Daughter – A Scandinavian Folktale
Posted on: February 21, 2021.

The story happens in the frontiers of Finland bordering with Sweden, on a high mountain covered with magnificent yet sinister forests on both its sides.

There is copsewood on the Swedish side, while the Finnish side is jungled by dark-pine and fir trees. Both forests are so dense, that, arguably, even the smallest bird cannot find its way through the thickets.

An ancient warrior, highly renowned for his prowess in the battle-field, who has, in his old age, become a monk, is chosen to be the living protector of the people living in jungles of the Swedish side.

The Finnish side is dreaded for its sinister sorcerers dwelling in cottages deep inside the dark-pine forests, assisted by demons that lived in a cave cut deep into the mountain, joining with the bottomless abyss.

There lived, along with the protector, his young son, who would, on no account, leave him, assisting his father in his duties as watcher, and in the exercises of prayer and penitence.

One day, the young hermit warrior goes out to cut wood in the forest, a sharp axe on his shoulders, and girded with a great sword, forcing his way through the thickest of the copsewood.

Suddenly, a great white wolf rushes at him, giving him only enough time to leap to one side, and not being able immediately thus to draw his sword, he hurls his axe at the great white wolf.

The throw is so well-aimed that it smacks squarely into the wolf’s right foreleg, which cripples the animal. It limps away, with a yell of anguish, into the wood.

Not satisfied, he stalks the wounded wolf and inflicts a vehement blow on its head with his sword, so the wild beast would not terrorize other passers-by like him. The animal falls to the ground, groaning piteously.

The youth, suddenly overcome by grief, decides to rescue the wolf and tame it to his advantage, rather than kill it, and commit sin. He binds the wolf’s wounds with moss and twigs of trees, and brings it home.

He gently lays the wolf on his own bed, made of moss and rushes. A picture of “St. George and the Dragon” is nailed on the wall beside the bed.

He then turns to the fire-place of the small hut, to prepare a healing salve for the wolf’s wounds. While he is thus occupied, he is much astonished to hear a human voice moaning and lamenting on the bed.

To his shocking amazement, he turns around to find, instead of the frightful wild beast, a most beautiful damsel, on whose head the wound which he had inflicted was bleeding through her fine golden hair.

Her right arm, in all its grace and snow-white luxuriance, is stretched out motionless, for it had been broken by the blow from his axe, earlier in the jungle.

She explains to him that she was the daughter of a magician who dwells in the Finnish side of the forests, transformed into a wolf to collect plants from places which, in her human form, she could not have reached.

The girl has no idea how she regained her human form but confesses that she did not do it out of evil design on the young man, though it was him who intentionally broke her right arm.

But the youth is quite clear that the picture of “St. George and the Dragon” on the wall beside the bed had broken the spell by which the poor girl had been transformed.

Presently, the youth’s father—the ancient warrior who has turned into a monk—arrives home, listens to the incidents that have occurred, and assists his son in reviving the wounded soul to perfect health.

It is thence decided that the youth, named Conrad, and the wolf-damsel must marry each other, and are engaged. Subsequently, the groom and bride decide to take a pleasure walk in the woods.

Walking absentmindedly, lost in each other’s tales, they venture too deep into the sinister Finnish side of the mountainous forests, where Conrad had first encountered the damsel as a great white wolf.

As if on cue, the whole air around them blackens with strange, paranormal beings—witches, devils, dwarfs, horned-owls, fire-eyed cats, and a thousand other wretches—that can neither be named nor described.

The apparitions and wraiths whirl around them as if dancing to rapid music. Unexpectedly, the girl too breaks out into sinister laughs, much to Conrad’s shocked amazement, and begins to dance furiously.

Conrad finds himself now in the clutches of evil beasts who want to drag him to their underground cave and into the bottomless abyss. He crosses himself with the sign of the cross and calls out the name of the Savior.

Instantly, the evil and the sinister howl out aloud in alarm, and run off in different directions away from Conrad, who retreats to the safety of the Swedish copsewood. The bride is transformed and spirited away.

Eventually, however, Conrad, succumbs to the melancholic abstraction of having lost the object of his life, and dies in great, deep grief. And, thereafter, the bride, it seemed, mourns for Conrad’s untimely death.

Alas! The poor maiden, against Conrad’s repeated warning not to, had ventured again so near the accursed paths she had once renounced—a few steps in the backward course, and all is lost.

The sound of howling and lamenting is often heard near and over the grave, like the cries of wolves, yet, at the same time, with distinct human accents, that passers-by still hear on dark winter nights.



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