The Official Collection of Fantastical Creature Information--Updated Randomly

For all your fantastical creature needs! This is the beginning of my encyclopedia, and I'm collecting as much information as I can on various fantasy creatures. Most of my stuff can be found on wikipedia. However, no source is perfect, so the stuff that is my input is often italicized. Help me by sending me more information at Questkid13@gmail.com

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Friday, April 25, 2008

Nixies and Nixes

The Nixie refers to shapeshifting water spirits who usually appear in human form. Their sex, bynames and various animal-like transformations vary geographically. The German Nix and his Scandinavian counterparts are males. The German Nixe or Nixie is a female river being.

Physical Appearance
It is difficult to describe the actual appearance of the nix, as one of his central attributes was thought to be shapeshifting. Perhaps he did not have any true shape. He could show himself as a man playing the violin in brooks and waterfalls (though often imagined as fair and naked today, in actual folklore he was more frequently wearing more or less elegant clothing) but also could appear to be treasure or various floating objects or as an animal — most commonly in the form of a "brook horse". Fossegrim and derivatives were almost always portrayed as especially beautiful young men, whose clothing (or lack thereof) varied widely from story to story.

Spotting one in Human Form
By the 19th century Jacob Grimm mentions the nixie to be among the "water-sprites" who love music, song and dancing, and says "Like the sirens, the nixie by her song draws listening youth to herself, and then into the deep." According to Grimm, they can appear human but have the barest hint of animal features: the nix had "a slit ear", and the nixie "a wet skirt".

Names and etymology
The names are held to derive from Common germanic *nikwus or *nikwis(i), derived from PIE *neigw ("wash"). It is related to Sanskrit nḗkēkti ("wash"), Greek nízō and níptō, and Irish nigther.
The form neck appears in English and in the dialect of northern Sweden. The standard Swedish name is näck, but in southern Sweden, it is also called nick and nek. The Swedish forms are derived from Old Swedish neker, which corresponds to Old Icelandic nykr (gen. nykrs), and modern Norwegian nykk. In Old Danish, the form was nikke and in modern Danish it is nøk(ke). In Middle Low German, it was called necker and in Middle Dutch nicker. The Old English nicor could mean "water monster."

Näcken, Nøkken
The Scandinavian näcken, nøkken, strömkarlen, Grim or Fosse-Grim were male water spirits who played enchanted songs on the violin, luring women and children to drown in lakes or streams. However, not all of these spirits were necessarily malevolent; in fact, many stories exist that indicate at the very least that Fossegrim were entirely harmless to their audience and attracted not only women and children, but men as well with their sweet songs. Stories also exist wherein the Fossegrim agreed to live with a human who had fallen in love with him, but many of these stories ended with the Fossegrim returning to his home, usually a nearby waterfall or brook. Fossegrim are said to grow despondent if they do not have free, regular contact with a water source.

If properly approached, he will teach a musician to play so adeptly "that the trees dance and waterfalls stop at his music."

Folklore and Mythology
The enthralling music of the nix was most dangerous to women and children, especially pregnant women and unbaptised children. He was thought to be most active during Midsummer's Night, on Christmas Eve and on Thursdays. However, these superstitions do not necessarily relate to all the versions listed here, and many if not all of them were developed after the Christianizing of the Northern countries, as were similar stories of faeries and other entities in other areas.
When malicious nix attempted to carry off people, they could be defeated by calling their name; this, in fact, would be the death of them.

If you brought the nix a treat of three drops of blood, a black animal, some brännvin (Scandinavian vodka) or snus (wet snuff) dropped into the water, he would teach you his enchanting form of music.

The nix was also an omen for drowning accidents. He would scream at a particular spot in a lake or river, in a way reminiscent of the loon, and on that spot a fatality would later take place.
In the later Romantic folklore and folklore-inspired stories of the 19th century, the nix sings about his loneliness and his longing for salvation, which he purportedly never shall receive, as he is not "a child of God."

A tale from the forest of Tiveden relates of how the forest had its unique red waterlilies through the intervention of the nix:
At the lake of Fagertärn, there was once a poor fisherman who had a beautiful daughter. The small lake gave little fish and the fisherman had difficulties providing for his little family. One day, as the fisherman was fishing in his little dugout of oak, he met the Nix, who offered him great catches of fish on the condition that the fisherman gave him his beautiful daughter, the day she was eighteen years old. The desperate fisherman agreed and promised him his daughter. The day the girl was eighteen, she went down to the shore to meet the Nix. The Nix gladly asked her to walk down to his watery abode, but the girl took forth a knife and said that he would never have her alive, stuck the knife into her heart and fell down into the lake, dead. Then, her blood coloured the waterlilies red, and from that day the waterlilies of some of the lake's forests are red (Karlsson 1970:86).

The Rhine maidens
The German Nix and Nixe (and Nixie) are types of river dwellers who may lure men to drown, like the Scandinavian type, akin to the Celtic Melusine and similar to the Greek Siren. The German epic Nibelungenlied mentions the Nix in connection with the Danube, as early as 1180 to 1210.

A special thanks to wikipedia for the information...
and to =candra of deviantart.com for this slightly stolen image.

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