Ghosts in Northern Countries

 [This is taken from Augustine Calmet's Phantom World, originally published in 1850, revised and edited by D. J. McAdam, 2010.  Copyright as such.]

Thomas Bartholin 

Thomas Bartholin, the son, in his treatise entitled "Of the Causes of the contempt of Death felt by the Ancient Danes while yet Gentiles," remarks that a certain Hordus, an Icelander, saw specters with his bodily eyes, fought against them and resisted them. These thoroughly believed that the spirits of the dead came back with their bodies, which they afterwards forsook and returned to their graves. Bartholinus relates in particular that a man named Asmond, son of Alfus, having had himself buried alive in the same sepulcher with his friend Asvitus, and having had victuals brought there, was taken out from thence some time after covered with blood, in consequence of a combat he had been obliged to maintain against Asvitus, who had haunted him and cruelly assaulted him.

He reports after that what the poets teach concerning the vocation of spirits by the power of magic, and of their return into bodies which are not decayed although a long time dead. He shows that the Jews have believed the same—that the souls came back from time to time to revisit their dead bodies during the first year after their decease. He demonstrates that the ancient northern nations were persuaded that persons recently deceased often made their bodily appearance; and he relates some examples of it: he adds that they attacked these dangerous specters, which haunted and maltreated all who had any fields in the neighborhood of their tombs; that they cut off the head of a man named Gretter, who also returned to earth. At other times they thrust a stake through the body and thus fixed them to the ground.

"Nam ferro secui mox caput ejus,
Perfodique nocens stipite corpus."

Formerly, they took the corpse from the tomb and reduced it to ashes; they did thus towards a specter named Gardus, which they believed the author of all the fatal apparitions that had appeared during the winter.


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