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House Spirits to Keep You Company

Well, friends, there’s no sugarcoating this; we’re in the middle of a pandemic. COVID-19 has ripped through the world and has overturned how we live. Some of us cling to normality while others thrive in the digital workspaces, but one thing is painfully clear.

Sometimes we just need to escape.

But where can we go, sequestered in our homes in order to help flatten the curve?

Into fantasy, of course! It might help you to know that there are myriad mythological creatures who are homebound as well, who might be there with you. Here are my top five homebody beasts.

Kobold – German folklore

Kobold from The Little White Feather by Willy PogányThis little wood spirit was often coaxed from the trees by offerings of honey (my kind of spirit) or via talismans carved from their trees and left at the home of those who want the kobold in their homes. Often depicted as human-like, though small. Once these spirits find a person they like, the kobold will live in their house forever. These little spirits are helpful but can also be tricksters, too. Household wood kobolds are most common, but there are also ones who live in mines and others who live on ships! So, fear not, wherever you’re locked down, you’ll most likely have a kobold to hang out with. (Though I really hope you’re not hunkered down in a mine.)

Gabija – Lithuanian folklore

Gabija, mosaic by Vitolis TrušysThere’s no wrath like a woman scored, right? Well, there’s no fire, either, for this goddess of the hearth will spread like the wildfire she is if you insult her. She lives in the hearth, is often seen as the living embodiment of the flames and is the protector of the home and family. She can take the form of a cat, a woman in a red dress, or even a rooster. The fire in the hearth—and Gabija herself—has to be laid to rest each night, so women of the household had to cover the fire with charcoal and sometimes even left bowls of clean water by the fireplace, too. So, cozy up to a warm fire this evening, and say hello to the Lithuanian goddess of the hearth. You wouldn’t want her to wander.

Zashiki warashi – Japanese folklore

A bronze statue of Zashiki Doji at Shigeru Mizuki RoadThese house spirits are essentially Japanese ghosts who are fond of mischief. They can take the form of ghostly children. Usually only kids can see them. Zashiki warashi love a good haunt—they make odd childlike noises, leave footsteps in soap powder, and play music. The spirits keep the elderly company, teach children songs and rhymes, and are even considered quite friendly. Don’t drive them away, though, for if a house loses its zashiki warashi that house will fall into ruin. So, if you see one of these guardian ghosts around your home, enjoy their tricks and pranks! They’re friendly, I swear.

Domovoy – Slavic mythology

Silesian statuettes of DomovoyA domovoy is the guardian of the family, its traditions, and wealth, but they are particularly fond of hard-working people. The domovoy usually lingers under the doorstep or by the oven but they never go beyond the boundaries of the home. They’re typically depicted as bearded and small, and according to traditions, they can take on the features of the head of household. (But with tails and horns, too… you know, just like your roommate!) The domovoy take care of the humans in the house, as well as their herds and household animals. So, if you have pets, perhaps try to befriend a domovoy!

Nisse – Norwegian folklore

Swedish Christmas card by Jenny NyströmOften described as a tiny elderly man with a giant beard in farmers clothing, nisse are a joy to have around your home. This homebound creature is often seen helping out with household chores and tending to the animals. They especially love taking care of horses. The one thing they ask in return? A bowl of julegrot (rice pudding) with butter on Christmas Eve. Adorable, right?

So, if you’re feeling lonely, perhaps make a friend with one of these household spirits. They could be nearby already!

But in all seriousness, though, take the time for yourself to breathe, to relax, and if you need it, to escape. Fantasy is a lovely way to pass the time.

Title image by Natalia Y.

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2 Comments

  1. Avatar ScarletBea says:

    🙂
    Funny and interesting!

  2. Avatar Amy Keeley says:

    Great list! Though it’s hard for me, after playing a fair amount of D&D, to think of kobolds as non-reptilian, lol. I like these kobolds a lot better. Much nicer kobolds. 🙂 Thank you!

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