According to ancient folklore (with a lot of different local variations) Näcken is a supernatural man who lives in seas, lakes, streams and rivers. His mission is to enchant and drown people with his outstanding and fascinating fiddle. When people hear the music they become enchanted and follow the sound that’s coming from the water. He’s lurking people in the stream which’ll be their death; they’ll end up dead because they drowned themselves walking towards the music.
Some myths say that Näcken was the best folk musician of them all and that he was willing to teach the humans how to play. But having Näcken as your teacher brought great danger and the student often ended up in an addiction of supernatural powers. Many of them played until they loosed their minds. People who listened to the music started dancing and they as well couldn’t stop. The only way to break this spell was for someone to cut off the violin strings.
Näcken is most often naked when he plays, hence his name, which means naked. You often picture him with quite long brown hair with seagrass in it. He always looks sad, like something’s torturing him. The legends says the reason why he lurks people in the water is that he’s feeling lonely and wants to be alone no more.
Some says that Näcken can take different shapes. He often turns himself into a white horse. We call it Bäckahästen (Horse of the river). Bäckahästen is an insidious predator which lurks children to ride on its back. It doesn’t matter how many children there are, Bäckahästen only gets longer and longer. When Bäckahästen has entertained the children for a while he jumps into the water and drown them all. The only way to stop Bäckahästen is to throw a piece of steel between the Bäckahäst and the water. Then the spell is broken and Bäckahästen loses its power.
The legend of Näcken is probably invented to discourage children from going anywhere near water. The sound that water makes, is similar to fiddle. The phenomenon Näcken was more common a couple of generations ago, nowadays we almost never hear him play…