Welcome to my Modern Mythology series of blog posts. If you’re not already aware, I’m a huge mythology nerd. I love the stories, creatures, deities, places, events, and general weirdness (at least, by modern perceptions), of these ancient tales. I actually love mythology and folklore so much, that it’s a heavy influence on my writing. This is especially true in my Modern Mythology series of novels. I’m going to post (most) Mondays with a new item from mythology or folklore. These are not to be considered deep scholarly write ups. I do my best to get the information correct and even point out where different reputable sources conflict on the information they provide. These are basically intended to be quick primers on a particular aspect of mythology. For the most part, I pick the item at random, but if you have a request for a particular mythological thing for me to research, please use the contact form on the site, and reach out. I’d love to hear from you!
Hiisi (or Hiidet if plural) is from the Finnic folklore. Originally representative of sacred (in some sources sacrificial) groves, but with the advent of Christianity in the area, the meaning was changed to be demonic or trickster spirits.
As a woodland spirit, he was considered the guardian spirit of a special groves. He appears as an ugly, beardless man with lopsided eyes lacking eyelids. He is typically dressed poorly and is considered a scoundrel. The “scoundrel” label may be a twist of the original protector nature of Hiisi because of Christian influence.
Interesting notes are that this is the same name used for Devil, and that in modern Finnish, Hiisi and derivative words are mild profanities.
Hiisi was a giant of ancient times, and is one of twelve sons of Kaleva, the great king of Kainuu.
Modern folklore of the Hiisi have them traveling noisily down roadways and forcing their way past fellow travelers. This view also has them entering homes through open doors to steal things from the owners. If one of the Hiidet attacks or chases you, then the best option is to escape to cultivated lands. The organized manner of worked farmland is an anathema to them since they prefer the natural wildness of untouched lands.
Leach, Maria. Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology, and Legend. Harper & Row, 1984.
“Hiisi.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 28 Feb. 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hiisi.