The Hidden Ones and the Eldritch Black Elder – Idlu Lili Regulus

In the olden times all supernatural beings on Iceland were called véttir, even Oden could be referred to as a vätte . In modern Denmark and Norway however vätte, akin to wight, is equal to a small subterranean being in human guise. In Sweden the vätte is a ca. 50-70 cm tall being, from the southern province of Scania, and at least as far north as the province of Jämtland (in Southern Sami called Jiemthen, in Latin Iemptia) in the middle of Sweden. Vätte is for ex. mentioned in Sjaelinna tröst   ca. 1430 C.E. Vättarna are called die Wichten (pl.) in German and are in Germany closely related to die Hollen, the Clandestine ones, the Hidden ones. Hollen has the same language root base as the Swedish word hölja i.e., to cover, to hide, to envelope, to sheath, a vast deep in the bottom of a lake or a small yet deep collection of water within a marsh or a bog. Die Wichten are known at least from 1437 C.E. in the Tirol and Hessen as well as in Niederrhein, the lower Rhine. They are mentioned as the Gute Hollen or the Gute Leute, akin to how we within our tradition name Elphame and other offspring of Lilith by their noa-name such as: the Good Folk or the Good People. One can also come across them being called the Gute Wichten, which ties in well with wight in English and wiht in Old English. They are sometimes perceived as forest creatures but in northern Germany they stand alongside the Subterranean ones. Other German names for similar beings are: Unterirdische, Erdleute, Bergmännlein, Bergschmiede, Orgen and Kobolde. 

In Denmark die Hollen turn into the hydlefolk and in Norway hulde- or huldrefolk with the same root and meaning as the German Hollen. In Norway, Denmark and Germany these names are often associated with certain families of trees, which some 120 years ago were believed to hark back to ancient tree-cults. The prime example and Queen here be the well renowned, mythical and magical eldritch elder (Sambucus nigra). It is moreover known as black elder, elderberry, European elder, European elderberry and also called European black elderberry.  In Germany elder is called Holunder and in Denmark hyldetræ. During the Medieval era the elder was named Ellern (Ellhorn) in northern Germany. In Denmark we find a name akin to that German word, namely the name of elletræer, yet here meaning a tree in the Alnus family, in Denmark this tree family is called elleslægten, the equivalent in Norwegian is oldertræer.

In Denmark, the south of Sweden and all along the Swedish west-coast fläder, the elder, was the primary tree in the folklore pertaining to verdant magic, elder was here also called hylle. Every time one was to take flowers or branches from it one must come bearing substituting offerings and/or first ask for permission and then forgiveness for taking something. Whoever disrespected this noble tree and its sovereign Lady was stricken with an allergic rash called hylleskåll, the scalding from the hylle, which is red rashes on the face, arms and legs . In England, it was believed, that if you gathered elder branches on May Day, they were imbued with the healing powers and were able to cure the bite of a rabid dog. To not invoke the wrath of the Lady of the elder tree, one should ask for permission before touching. And when permission was granted, one’s touch should be gentle.

« Huldra » by Ronja Irving

Before one, for harvesting purposes, would put iron or steel against the branches one should repeat a chant in the likeness of this:

‘Old girl give me of thy wood and
I will give you some of mine
when I grow into a tree.’

(Michael Howard, 1987)

Howard beautifully put it like this in regards to how this simple chant was said to save “the cutter from dire fate for daring to interfere with the Elder Mother”  and her ways.  

To relieve oneself under the elder was potentially dangerous especially during the blossoming period, to make camp or sleep under the aegis of the elder tree could cause headaches and other ailments. To stand in good favour with the elder and its inhabitants one sacrificed beer, mead, milk or cream by its roots.

Upon harvesting or collecting anything from the eldritch black elder I would advise against using any form of iron or steel and instead only pluck and gather what your intuition, hands and conscience deem prudent. The day of Saturn in the hours of Saturn and Mercury and on the day of Mercury in the hours of Mercury (both when the Sun is up and when it has set will serve well) during a waxing moon would be my suggestions for the appointed times of harvest. I would furthermore suggest it to be wise that upon drawing near the noble elder tree and its wise ruler, the Elder Lady, one should come bearing milk, salted butter and beer, make a bow and then move widdershins three times round her. During each lap one pour the libations and give the butter offering while repeating this :

Hyldemor, Hyldemor, Hyldemor - giv mig noet av ditt träd
så skall jag giva dig något av mitt i gengäld  

HiddenMother, HiddenMother, HiddenMother grant me some
of your boughs bounty and I will give you some of mine in return.

After each lap offer an outward breath towards the bark or a blossoming flower, thereupon, with words or in mind, state one’s errand and if upon receiving a benevolent reply proceed to gather the gifts of the Elder Lady. In England it was feared that if one cut down an elder tree the Elder Mother residing in it would wreak havoc upon those responsible. Howard explains this folk-belief as harking back to the “pagan worship of the Moon Goddess, who had the elder as her sacred tree”.

Predominately its roots, bark, berries and leaves were used to cure many ailments but also its branches and flowers were featured in herbal remedies. It was not only a power- and wilful tree its mere presence and scent was believed to protect against evil, chasing off ill-wishing witches and to lessen the affliction of their magic. Furthermore, it was said to keep vermin, mice, rats and the ravages of flying insects at bay. In England, however, country-folk considered it unlucky to have in their gardens  despite its plethora of good uses and noble traits.

In Sweden sorcerers have found that not only the branches and wood of the Elder tree which belongs to the royal house of Sambucus apt for carrying out magical operations pertaining to the wise Queen that a large part of my life has been dedicated to: Skogsråt/Skogsrået, the ruling Lady of the desolate Woods, but also from these noble houses:

The House of Tilia

•    Bohuslind (large-leaved linden, Tilia platyphyllos)
•    Skogslind (the small-leaved linden, Tilia cordata)

The House of Alnus

•    Gråal, grey Alder (Alnus Incana)

La Maison des Ormes

•    Skogsalm (wych elm, Ulmus glabra)

« Huldra II » by Ronja Irving

In Sweden Skogsråt is also called Skogsfrun, Forest-wife and she is the sublime and enchanting Mistress of the Woods. She bears many other names that are more complicated to translate. In the historical, cultural and linguistic region of Bergslagen in Sweden she was called råhanna or råndan and in the south of Sweden Skogssnu(v)an was her name. Other names were Skogstippa, Tallkotte-Kari, Middagsbergs-jullran, Talle-Maja, Skogsnymfen, the Forest nymph, and Huldran .
The Lady of the desolate Woods is, my view and tradition interpreted as, is one of the guises of Lilith. Why that is I describe in my upcoming book She of the Night (2023).

In Denmark one in the, aforementioned elle- and hyldetræer i.e., Alnus trees and elder bushes found the Danish elle- or hyldefolkene, the Hidden Folk or People named after the tree of their residence but other than that described identically (they were the same). The Norwegian equivalent the huldrefolket sometimes lived in oldertræer i.e. trees of the Alnus family such as the grey alder or speckled alder (Alnus Incana).

The Ellefolkene sometimes are called Elvefolkene , the Elv-folk, and fairy folk. These beings and especially the Hyldefolkene hails from Hyllfruen, the Hyllwife, this title can variously be translated as the Hidden Wife, the Hidden Lady, or finally Mistress of the Hidden ones, I have also seen mentioning’s of Hylde Mor, Mother of the Hidden.

In the Swedish provinces of Skåne, Scania, and Blekinge Hyllfruen, Lady of the Hidden ones/the Hyllwife, resides in hylleträdet/fläderbusken, the elder tree. These two mentioned provinces along with the province of Bohuslän had been Danish up until as recently as 1658 C.E.

The kin of the Danish hylde - and ellefolkene, the vætter, lives in barrows, mounds and mountains (to the degree that Denmark have mountains) hence they are called höj- or bjærgfolk, in direct translation People or Folk of the Mound or the Mountain. The vætter, especially the Mountainfolk among them, are said to wear red, green and sometimes blue clothes paired with a grey, red or white cap or stocking cap but sometimes they even sport a black one. Once upon a blue moon they also appear as if naked.

In Norway the name huldrefolkene dominate the sources, especially in the southern and central parts of the land. While in Jæderen and Telemark one hears the name of vetterne instead of huldrefolkene, in Mandal one call them vitt and north of Trondheim one call them ei godvetter or ei godvetra . These vetter, vitt and vetra are often not taller in stature than a 10-year-old child; they dress in grey and wear black hats or skauts.
Among the Norwegian vetter and huldrefolk an interesting aspect is displayed namely having a hollowed out back, this occasional trait the Good Folk of Norway have inherited from their kin the Danish ellefolk. The Norwegian Good Folk have inherited their tail from the Swedish Skogsrå. The tail is often said to be the coppery red tail of a fox, the cunning and eternal trickster of the Borean lands.

In Bottna socken, province of Bohuslän on the Swedish west-coast, a hunter happened upon the Lady of the desolate woods and she took him to a fancy castle deep in the woods, later that night upon waking up next to her he saw that she had a hollowed out back, as a baking trough, and was equipped with a tail. Upon the hunter’s dreadful discovery of his bedfellows’ traits, he was so taken aback that he cursed and/or took God’s name in vain whereupon the spell of the Skogsrå was broken and he found himself laying far out on a mire . The Skogsrå was known for her joyous and resounding laughter, her beautiful, long, seductive hair that often appeared as if spun gold and for her ability of turning the sight of humans, especially men, and to in such manner lead them astray.

Aside of huldrefolk they are also called vette or vätte and they often wear old-fashioned clothes, blue shirts, red or blue skirts and white skauts and headscarves. It appears as if the Norwegian huldrefolkene, mayhap due to various lineages, external influences or mayhap owing to the potentially intoxicated and/or spellbound state they put those that beholds them in, varies in height. As the Subterranean Ones they are quite small in size, but when they are described as the paramour of a human or when humans suddenly stumble upon their farms in the desolate and remote waste and wilderness they are described as being populated by a huldrefolk in human, or close to human, stature. Variations in size occurred among the Danish ones too but the Subterranean Ones were predominantly considered to be small in size.

The huldrefolk of Norway had their own cattle, said to be both far more fair, better and fatter than the livestock of their human cousins. This cattle tradition seems to run from the German dwarves, through the Danish bjærgfolk, mountain-folk, via Sjöfrun, The Seawife/Lady of the Ocean, along the provinces of the Swedish west coast (i.e. the old former Danish provinces). Sjöfrun was well renowned for her astonishing and highly desired cattle and it seems this trope continued into Norway since this tradition was found there as well. Yet this influence/tradition can in Norway also have emigrated from the east, but it also can simply display an actual fact, an aspect that tends to be forgotten or disregarded.

Another potential Swedish influence upon Norwegian lore are the tales of Skogsråets beautiful and eminent cattle. She also had saddled elks to carry her round her domain. Her elks easily outran any human horse. According to a later myth one of the attendants of, or someone close to, the Swedish regent Charles XII (1682-1718 C.E.) found himself in the woods and there happened upon an elk, these magnificent creatures that up here are referred to as Skogens Konung, the King of the Forests. When Charles XII got wind of their tremendous speed and momentum he got inspired enough, to start up training elks to be utilized in the military, for no use might I add since these creatures bend for none but their Mistress, the Lady of the desolate Woods.


The themes and contents of this article will in edited form end up, and be elaborated, in four chapters of my upcoming tome on Lilith, “She of the Night” (2023) to be published by the great folks of Theion Publishing ( : Jessica Grote ( and David Beth. My heartfelt thanks to them for their support and for believing in me.

Thank you Ronja Irving ( for the permission to share your great “Huldra” artwork. Thank you also to Kazim from Hexen Press for sharing it here.


This article is dedicated to the memory of Ebbe Schön
(December 13th 1929 – August 4th 2022) tack för allt Ebbe!


Idlu Lili Regulus



Howard, Michael, Traditional Folk Remedies: A Comprehensive Herbal Century paperbacks, London, England, 1987

Liungman, Waldemar, Sveriges sägner i ord och bild, part IV, Förlagsaktiebolaget Vald Litteratur, R. W. Statlander, Stockholm, Sweden, 1961,

Schön, Ebbe, Älvor, vättar och andra väsen: en bok om gammal folktro av Ebbe Schön Rabén & Sjögren, Stockholm, Sweden, 1987.

Schön, Ebbe, Folktro i Bohuslän, Warne Förlag, Partille, Sweden, 1992

Schön, Ebbe, Älvor, troll och talande träd, Bokförlaget Semic, Media Print, Uddevalla, Sweden, 2000