Dancing Fairies


Art by August Malmstrøm

Imagine rowing quietly over a lake a summer night. You are in the north and the sun is betwixt dusk and dawn, still giving off a mellow gleam of pale yellow and grey light. Above the water a mist has gathered, twirling in slow motion in the stillness of the night. And that is when you see it. Is it just a formation of white vapor gracefully leaping in the air? Or is it something else, something you thought only existed in your imagination?


Photo by: Ingolf Endresen

Ever since the first people came to Norway, they have been asking themselves this question. Of course, fairies are not supposed to exist, but how can mist move so intently and musically without even a breath of air? The tales speak of fairies coming out to dance in the mysterious light of the summer night, disguising themselves in the glamour of white mist upon water.

What do you believe? Perhaps you are not so easily convinced of the existence of fairies, but if you were there, rowing quietly over a lake a summer night…you would perhaps not be so sure…

Image credit: The beautiful photo is taken by the very talented Ingolf Endresen. You can see more of his incredible photos here: https://blog.ingolfendresen.com/

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Midsummer Madness


Midsummer Bonfire by Nikolai Astrup, 1909

It is the end of June and school is finally out. Kids and parents pack their picnic baskets and head for the nearest meadow or beach, or as the last resort; a gravel football court, where a huge bonfire has been standing tall, composed of old branches and throw-away furniture, since the first day of summer. For some, this is the day they pack their cars or boats, and head for their summer getaways. But the bonfire is certainly not to be missed. Will the witch adorning the top of the driftwood tower fall over before she is licked clean by the building flames this year, or will she collapse at the first touch of smoke like last year?

The witch is the main character of this suspiciously pagan Nordic holiday. She, and her sisters, will be on the prowl on midsummer night, looking for eligible bachelors to kidnap, and god help the girl who tries to stand up for her lover! So the inhabitants of each village try to scare her away by burning replicas of her on a huge bonfire. Since the witches normally fly quite high in the sky, this tend to work fine. At least it has for centuries now, with a few exceptions, so do NOT forget the witch on top of the bonfire tonight!

Since this is a night steeped in magic, more than just witches may be heard from or even seen. The fairies will be out and about too. And it is said that, because of this, if a young girl picks seven different types of flowers from a meadow at midnight and puts them under her pillow when she sleeps, she will dream about the man she is going to marry!

When I was little, midsummers were spent at sea with my family. There would be a huge bonfire on a rock in the sea close to land, and it would burn far into the night. We would grill sausages on a smaller fire and tell each other stories about ghosts and witches. With me always being the main narrator. Sometimes I would scare my two younger siblings half to death!

If you want to learn more about our Nordic Midsummer Madness, you can read the beautiful book which is the inspiration for this post: ” Moominsummer Madness” by the Finnish author Tove Jansson. In this delightful children’s book you will encounter a floating theatre, electric ghosts, private property protests, and wild orphans who dream of seeing a real play.

Midsummer is a time for fairy magic, for fun and for family and friends. It is one of those delicious festivals that dates back to ancient times when it was the turning of the sun that marked the passing of the year, and gave cause for celebration. So no matter where you are, please have a magical Midsummer, and be sure to sprinkle a bit of Midsummer Madness in there.

Happy Midsummer!

Her Majesty

Her Majesty is a New Zealand family/children’s film from 2001. The story is set in the 1950s and is about a young girl who loves Queen Elisabeth and dreams about meeting her, and an elderly Maori woman who is passionate about keeping her Maori legacy alive. When the two meet a magical friendship starts to blossom.

This film, which is inspired by true events, is a beautiful story about identity, belongingness, loyalty and friendship. It is about learning to appreciate our earth and the people who came before us.

I absolutely loved this sweet movie! I loved learning a bit about the Maori traditions, and I loved the way the story and the characters evolved. I could easily identify with the 12 year old Elisabeth and her courage and big heart when she stands up for her Maori friend Hira. I could also relate to the curiosity Elisabeth has for the deeply spiritual ways of the Maori people and how she learns to appreciate and even adopt some of these traditions. love the friendship between the two, and how genuine and respectful it is, despite the age difference.

I absolutely recommend this magical film to children, teenagers and adults alike! It is rare to come upon such a gem of a movie in these highly commercial times.

Of course, five out of five stars! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Christmas Card Traditions

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Did you know that the tradition of giving Christmas cards started with the Victorians? In fact, a lot of our modern day Christmas traditions started in the Victorian era. But in those days most of the Christmas cards were still homemade, just like most of the gifts were.

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The tradition of giving gifts goes back a long time, and in Norway we hear about the Vikings offering gifts to allying chiefs in order to establish and maintain good relations between the different clans. Even today, gifts, but perhaps even more so, cards, are used for the exact same purpose!

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We send and receive Christmas cards from people, often extended family members, we haven’t heard from or met in perhaps even decades! In my family, my mother still gets Christmas cards from aunties she hasn’t seen in 30 years! It is just a way of saying: I haven’t forgotten about you and we are still thinking about you. And isn’t Christmas just the best time to do that!

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Most of the Christmas cards we send and receive today are store-bought ones, maybe even finished written ones with: Merry Christmas and Happy New Year printed on the inside. But in my family, my aunties still make their own cards, and it so lovely to receive a handmade card every year!

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When I was little I simply loved postcards, you know the ones you don’t need an envelope for, and my granny had whole stacks of them lying around, and I would spend hours leafing through them, looking at the pictures and reading the greetings. My favorite ones were the old-fashioned Christmas postcards, like the ones you see in this post.

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A lot of us have today converted to e-cards and e-greetings, and perhaps it is for the best, at least for the environment, but I still feel that there is something so soulfully heartwarming about these hand-written Christmas cards, something that is just not there in these fast-forwarded e-greetings. Perhaps it is okay to keep a few papery traditions.

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Whatever form of greeting you choose, I think it is, like always, the thought that counts, just telling someone you haven’t forgotten about them and that they are still a part of your life is all that matters.

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Some of us go through life without having any close relations, or even caring friends, and I think Christmas is just the perfect time to reach out to someone who needs a friend. Perhaps you can play the Christmas Card fairy this year and send cards to everyone in your neighborhood! You don’t have to sign them, you can simply write: Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the Christmas Fairy. How much fun wouldn’t that be! Just imagine the look on people’s faces when they receive a card like that, and think, it was you who put that smile there!

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No matter what you choose to do this Holiday Season, I hope you will not forget about the meaning of it: to love and cherish one another unconditionally.
Enjoy yourself!

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Advent Calendars

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Did you have an Advent Calendar growing up? Maybe you still have one! 😊
I love Advent Calendars! I had even more than one growing up, and I still make sure I open those same magical picture-doors every day throughout December.

Since Advent is just around the corner, I thought I’d do this little post about Advent Calendars.

My favorite Advent Calendar must be my “Nutcracker Calendar”. The Calendar has 24 little books telling the tale of the famous Nutcracker Prince. But I also love the Calendars with little pictures inside, the best thing about them is that you can use them again every year!

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If you ask my mother, who grew up in the 60s and early 70s, what her favorite Advent Calendar was, she will tell you it was the Calendar with little colorful plastic animals inside! Sadly these Calendars are not available anymore, but I would have loved to see one!

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In Norway, the most popular Calendars are the ones with chocolate or candy inside. But we also have TV Calendars accompanying an Advent TV show spread out over 24 episodes. The Advent TV Shows are often Christmas mysteries or Fairy Tales.

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My grandmother always have the Lottery Advent Calendar. These are Calendars sold by different organizations in order to make money for their cause. Each door of the Calendar will hold a code, and a winning code is announced every day. The prizes can be food items or even trips!

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My brother has always been a huge Walt Disney fan ( his favorites are the Carl Barks and Don Rosa Donald Duck comic books), so his Advent Calendars were the Disney ones.

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Of course there are more simple Advent Calendars as well. The favorite one in Norway is an orange with 24 whole cloves pierced into it. You pull out one Clove for each day. These Calendars smell heavenly, and my granny still hangs them in her windows first December, with a red silk bow tied around them.

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There are even books written as an Advent Calendar! The most well known in Norway is Jostein Gaarder’s “The Christmas Mystery” ( Which is also available in English). It’s a beautiful philosophical story for kids and adults alike.

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No matter what Christmas Calendar you choose, I think it’s always so lovely to have one, it makes each day a little magical!

And if you can’t find Advent Calendars where you live, you can always make one!
I have done that myself many many times 😊.

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Happy Advent to you, your family and friends with lots of love from “Tales from the Fairies”.

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❤️🕯❤️🕯❤️🕯❤️🕯

The Art of Storytelling

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Art by Albert Anker

I have always been fascinated with the art of storytelling. I was a storyteller before I was a writer. My favorite thing to do when I was little was to go on walkabouts with my two younger cousins making up stories about oddly shaped rocks, twining trees and little lakes, as we wandered through changing landscapes of forests and mountains. Perhaps this talent came from my mother. I will never forget the storm-torn tree with the roots reaching for the skies. It was a magical gateway to another world. A world only my mother knew about. And now me. A miniature world of trolls and elves. And I, with the magical eyes of childhood, saw it all. Or perhaps it was my grandmother who taught me to tell stories. I could not get enough of the stories she told about a wonderful land called Yesteryear. Or her folktales, always with a wicked modern twist to make me laugh.

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Art by Theodor Kittelsen

When I learned how to write, my writing was first and foremost a way to record my stories. Whenever I wasn’t busy playing you could always find me scribbling something in a notepad or sketching odd characters and fantastical sceneries in a drawing book.
Some of the stories turned into movies which my big brother shot with my father’s old fashioned video camera.

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Art by Theodor Kittlsen

When I was eight I started writing poetry. I learned the magic of words. Poems were little stories about emotions. And these stories outshone the longer narratives in my teens. Today my writing is a mixture of storytelling and creative poetic writing.

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The tradition of storytelling is old. Older than recorded history. Storytelling was the way to record history in ancient times. It was a way to teach moral, explain natural phenomena, carry on culture and traditions, and of course, to entertain. In the Norse part of the world, we had the Skald. The skald was a poetic storyteller, often working for the king. He composed actual events into epic heroic sagas, creating heroes and adding valor to kings. Our most famous Skald is Snorri Sturluson, an Icelandic poet who composed the epic Prose Edda. This Prose is still taught in schools today, and is a valuable source to understand ancient history and traditions in the Norse world.

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Art by Theodor Kittlsen

Other famous storytellers in Norway are Asbjørnsen and Moe. During the National Romanticism in Norway in the late 18th century, there was a general revival and interest for the old Norwegian traditions and culture. This was also true for the Norwegian folk tales and fairy tales. These tales had been told on farms and around bonfires for many many years, but had never been written down. Asbjørnsen and Moe took it upon themselves to collect these folk tales and publish them in two volumes. They traveled around the country from farm to farm listening to stories and writing them down. They were also known for re-telling the different stories to the children they met on their journeys. The two volume of folk tales collected by Asbjørnsen and Moe have never been out of print since they were first published in 1841, and rarely will you find a Norwegian home without one version or the other of this Fairytale collection.

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The Iron Age Farm, Stavanger, Norway

I was so lucky as to meet one of the more modern storytellers in Norway, on the Iron Age farm in Stavanger. Nina Næsheim is a professional storyteller who specializes in Norse myths and legends. It was a very special moment sitting inside the ancient stone farmhouse with the rain tapping on the roof and candles swaying in the draft listening to Nina Næsheim telling stories about the Jotne, Thor, Freya and Odin’s Ravens. Seeing a professional storyteller performing a narrative is something completely different than listening to a book being read out loud. It is then you understand that storytelling truly is an art.

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Inside the Iron Age Farmhouse, Stavanger, Norway.

I met another such contemporary storyteller in Galway, Ireland. Ireland, with its Celtic heritage, has a rich tradition of storytellers, or seanchaí as they are called in Ireland.
The stories often include the mythical Fey Folk, or faeries as we call them today. But these faeries are very far from the Disney fairies we see on screen today. The Irish Faeries were cunning and mischievous and often downright wicked, stealing babies and luring bachelors into Faerierings.
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Eddie (Edmund) Lenihan is a famous contemporary Irish storyteller who specializes in tales about the Faerie folk. Eddie is featured in the film ” The Faerie Faith”, and claims that the Faeries actually exist. His stories are often modern and stars people who have actually had encounters with this mythical folk. I met Eddie Lenihan in Galway during the yearly storytelling festival. His performance was exceptional, and he captivated his audience, young and old, with his dreamy deep voice, his shape shifting facial expressions and his faerie like body language.

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Eddie Lenihan by Valerie O’Sullivan

The Irish seanchas were not only the bearers of Faerie Lore, they were also essential in the Druid tradition. Druids were Celtic priests, or wise men, who were called upon to perform weddings and funerals. They were also the holders of the secret knowledge and were considered to be wise and knowledgeable. They often shared and distributed this knowledge in the telling of stories, symbolic tales conveying hidden messages for the listeners.
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I met a Druid priest on the island of Inish Mor in Ireland. He was a former catholic monk, but had converted to the old faith in recent times. He spent his days studying ancient knowledge and mysteries, and some of this knowledge he shared with me,standing in the stone ruin of an old monastery facing the boisterous Atlantic Ocean, his tales came alive before my very eyes as the skies and seas shifted and roared and spat out the secrets the Druid called upon.

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Inish Mor, Ireland

We all tell stories. Perhaps funny anecdotes from our own lives, or perhaps stories we’ve heard told about someone else’s misfortune or success. We are made up of stories, memories, moments of learning, experiences, our stories make us who we are. Humanity has always had a fondness for gossip, for eavesdropping, just look at today’s reality shows and social networking. Sharing our story becomes important, it is how we leave our mark on this world, it is how we prevent the sea from washing out our footprints.

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Art by the brothers Hildebrandt

Whenever I go through something difficult, as we all must do in life, I think of my life as a story, a quest, a heroic tale, something that will grow in interest, excitement and richness, the more adversary I go through. For after all, what is a story without a plot, what is a tale without a quest, what is a saga without a hero? Or in the words of Samwise Gamgee from Lord of the Rings:

“It’s like in the great stories Mr. Frodo, the ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were, and sometimes you didn’t want to know the end because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end it’s only a passing thing this shadow, even darkness must pass. A new day will come, and when the sun shines it’ll shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you, that meant something even if you were too small to understand why. ”

* All the images have been sourced from Wikimedia or Wikipedia

Further reading:

Nina Næsheim: http://fortellernina.no/node/1
Eddie Lenihan: http://eddielenihan.weebly.com/

Whale Rider

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Whale Rider is a New Zealand family drama film from 2002. The story is about a young Maori girl Paikea, who feels the calling of her ancestors to be a leader of her people, however being a girl, she is not permitted by her grandfather to follow this calling, as old Maori customs states that only a firstborn son can inherit the leadership. But Paikea, or Pai, as she is called, will not give up on her calling, and risks defying and dishonor her deeply respected and dearly loved grandfather to be true to herself and the whispers in her heart.

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I loved this movie! It shows, in such a gorgeous and sensitive way, the importance and beauty of old traditions, but how they, in order to keep alive in a modern world, need to be revised to stay true to the new wisdom of our age. I love how Pai listens to her heart, and even though that means defying her grandfather, she still continues to love and respect him. The film shows us, that not all rebellious acts are selfish, that following a calling is not about ego or individualism, it is much much deeper than that, and is rooted in something that far exceeds our understanding of the world. Something we have to stay true to, even if it will hurt the people who love us.

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The ending of this movie was so beautiful it had my crying like a baby! And don’t get me started on the music! It instantly transported me to my own inner sanctuary and touched me deeply.

This must be one of the most beautiful movies I’ve ever seen,
and I highly recommend it!