Sunday, April 5, 2015

Some Scandinavian Nautical Lore (北欧海事信仰)

By Mr. Bjerstedt

Paying For Good Wind

To get good wind for sailing, you should throw a coin over the mast so that it falls in the water, and at the same time shout "Blow Kajsa!" This Kajsa is a deity and was formerly called Kåre. The old Vikings would during doldrums bribe this ocean god with some amber jewellery, that they threw over the mast and shouted "Blow
Kåre!" and immediately the wind would come. However, over the years Kåre changed gender and became Kari, which in turn became Kajsa.

["Kåre" is a Nordic male name that means "Curly haired one". "Kåra" is a nautical term that means that the water becomes frizzy, from a "kåre", which is a weak wind. The word is also used in the Swedish form of the phrase "gives the creeps", where it is "Cold kårar goes along the back".]

The Sea Rå

Like the hunters tell of a forest rå, a gorgeous guise of a woman who fools men and leads them astray and later shapeshifts into a rotten tree stump, the old sailors talk about the sea rå, this too a darling woman with seaweed braided into the long hair. The sea rå is the ocean's avenging spirit that punishes without mercy. Many a sailor, who refused to believe in her, has during a dark stormy night or during a lonely guarding session suddenly disappeared without anyone knowing, where he has gone or who was behind his disappearance. The old sailors only nod secretively, they know that it is the sea rå, who once again has been out and punished her deniers.

When Ships Were Built

Notetaker: Levi Johansson
Messenger: J Hassel-Larsson
Year: 1912
Parish/Town: Njurunda

When ships were built, in old times, they necessarily had to put coins in certain parts of the ship.

[I can't translate the rest of the text due to the nautical knowledge required.]

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