Finnish Folklore Wiki
Advertisement

Metsänneito ("maiden of the forest"), also known as metsänneitsyt ("virgin of the forest"), metsänpiika ("maid of the forest") and sinipiika ("blue maid"), is a creature known in Western and South-western Finland. She is a woman, who appears to men walking and sleeping in the forest. She might come to dance at the campfire or walk past you. From the front, metsänneito is a beautiful woman with gauze clothes and long hair, but her back is hollow or just a snag. A man who managed to see her back would be shocked by this, and the metsänneito would get scared as well and leave.

Stories warn men from engaging in erotic relations with a metsänneito and emphasize, that she will mislead or kill anyone who follows her. Men who engage in intimate acts with metsänneitos are made fun of in stories.

In some other stories, a man who made love to a metsänneito was rewarded by her with eg. a shirt that doesn't wear out or a bear as a catch. This kind of metsänneito might also have warned forest goers of a tree about to fall on the campsite.

The appearance of a metsänneito was seen as a good omen - as long as you didn't talk to it or do anything. If a spark flew to a metsänneito's skirt and a hunter managed to extinguish it, he would be exceptionally lucky. The metsänneito might have gifted the man a moose or a bear as a thank you. If a metsänneito touched a hunter's weapon, it would kill its target with one hit.

The metsänneitos mentioned in archaic hunting spells are more like metaphors supposed to feminize and eroticize the nature of a forest, and don't mean these same creatures.

Metsänneito traditions are different in different regions, and there are layers of multiple different influences. Hence the view of them as both positive and negative. One source for influence were the Scandinavian creatures called skogsjungfru ("maiden of the forest" as well).

Sources

  • Pulkkinen, Risto & Lindfors, Stina. Suomalaisen kansanuskon sanakirja. Gaudeamus (2016). Page: 209–210.
Advertisement