The Moss-Woman

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The Moss-Woman

According to German folklore, one of the moss or wood folk who dwelled in the forests of Bavaria, in southern Germany. Their stature was small and their form strange and uncouth, bearing a strong resemblance to certain trees. They were a simple, timid, and inoffensive race, and had little intercourse with humankind, approaching only at rare intervals the lonely cabin of the woodsman or forester to borrow some article of domestic use or to beg a little of the food being prepared for the family meal. They would also, for similar purposes, appear to laborers in the fields that lay on the outskirts of the forests. A loan or gift to the moss-people was always repaid manifold.

But the most highly-prized and eagerly-coveted of all mortal gifts was a draught from the maternal breast for their own little ones; for this the moss-people held to be a sovereign remedy for all the ills to which their natures were subject. Yet it was only in the extremity of danger that they could so overcome their natural diffidence and timidity as to ask this boonfor they knew that mortal mothers turned from such nurslings with disgust and fear.

It would appear that the moss or wood folk also lived in some parts of Scandinavia. Thus it was believed that in the churchyard of Store Hedding, in Zealand, there were remains of oaks that were trees by day and warriors by night.


Arrowsmith, Nancy, and George Moorse. A Field Guide to the Little People. New York: Wallaby, 1977.