Fylgjur in literature

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay

Eric Bryan (Missouri University of Science and Technology)
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The Old Norse-Icelandic term

fylgjur

(sg.

fylgja

) is generally understood to refer to pre-Christian supernatural attendants in one of several forms: female attendant spirits, animal attendant spirits, or something akin to a soul that can exist outside the body. In Icelandic sagas, animal and female

fylgjur 

often occur in visions or dreams in which they represent the coming of an individual or group of people. As external souls,

fylgjur

may be seen going out ahead of someone for the purpose of doing harm to their enemies prior to battle, such as causing them extreme drowsiness or fatigue, so that the attendee might have better fortunes when the battle ensues.

Fylgjur

are heavily bound to an individual’s fate and the appearance of one’s

fylgja

might portend one’s death. Some

fylgjur

1879 words

Citation: Bryan, Eric. "Fylgjur in literature". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 22 January 2024 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=19662, accessed 26 February 2024.]

19662 Fylgjur in literature 2 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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