Hiisis are a kind of tutelary spirits in mythologies
The term mythology can refer either to the study of myths, or to a body or collection of myths. As examples, comparative mythology is the study of connections between myths from different cultures, whereas Greek mythology is the body of myths from ancient Greece...

 of the Baltic Sea
Baltic Sea
The Baltic Sea is a brackish mediterranean sea located in Northern Europe, from 53°N to 66°N latitude and from 20°E to 26°E longitude. It is bounded by the Scandinavian Peninsula, the mainland of Europe, and the Danish islands. It drains into the Kattegat by way of the Øresund, the Great Belt and...

 area, especially in Finland
Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

. In Christian tradition, they are most often considered to be malicious or at least very horrifying. They are found near salient promontories
Promontory may refer to:*Promontory, a prominent mass of land which overlooks lower lying land or a body of water*Promontory, Utah, the location where the United States first Transcontinental Railroad was completed...

, ominous crevasses, large boulders, potholes, woods, hills, and other awesome geographical features or rough terrain. Originally, the term meant "holy place". In the related Estonian language
Estonian language
Estonian is the official language of Estonia, spoken by about 1.1 million people in Estonia and tens of thousands in various émigré communities...

 'Hiis' still means sacred forest.

The eponymous chief Hiisi is helped by a number of smaller hiisis in the Kalevala
The Kalevala is a 19th century work of epic poetry compiled by Elias Lönnrot from Finnish and Karelian oral folklore and mythology.It is regarded as the national epic of Finland and is one of the most significant works of Finnish literature...

. In Poems 13-14, Lemminkäinen
Lemminkäinen or Lemminki is a prominent figure in Finnish mythology. He is one of the Heroes of the Kalevala, where his character is a composition of several separate heroes of oral poetry. He is usually depicted as young and good looking, with wavy blonde hair.The original, mythological...

 pursues the chief Hiisi's elk.

"Hiisi" was also one of the twelve sons of Kaleva, the great king of Kainuu in Kalevala
The Kalevala is a 19th century work of epic poetry compiled by Elias Lönnrot from Finnish and Karelian oral folklore and mythology.It is regarded as the national epic of Finland and is one of the most significant works of Finnish literature...

. Those sons were later transformed into twelve constellations in the sky.

Later the original aspect of nature's awesomeness inherent in the hiisis was diminished, and they passed into folklore as purely evil spirits vaguely analogous to troll
A troll is a supernatural being in Norse mythology and Scandinavian folklore. In origin, the term troll was a generally negative synonym for a jötunn , a being in Norse mythology...

s. According to this later view, Hiisis were often small in size, on some occasions gigantic. Hiisis could travel in a noisy procession, and attack people who did not give way to them. If somebody left his door open, a Hiisis could come inside and steal something. If you were chased by a Hiisi you should seek safety in a cultivated area. In folklore, it was the cultivated areas which were blessed in contrast to the pagan holiness residing in the awesome and forbidding features of raw nature, and evil hiisi could not step inside areas sanctified by human cultivation.

Pre-historic stone structures and large stone boulders were thought to have been erected by Hiisis or giants
Giant (mythology)
The mythology and legends of many different cultures include monsters of human appearance but prodigious size and strength. "Giant" is the English word commonly used for such beings, derived from one of the most famed examples: the gigantes of Greek mythology.In various Indo-European mythologies,...

. The Finnish term for a Bronze Age
Bronze Age
The Bronze Age is a period characterized by the use of copper and its alloy bronze as the chief hard materials in the manufacture of some implements and weapons. Chronologically, it stands between the Stone Age and Iron Age...

 cairn grave (consisting of a pile of rocks) is still called a hiidenkiuas, Hiisi's pile of rocks.
A giant's kettle is called a hiidenkirnu (literally, a hiisis churn
Butter churn
A butter churn is a device used to convert cream into butter. This is done through a mechanical process, frequently via a pole inserted through the lid of the churn, or via a crank used to turn a rotating device inside the churn.-Process:...

) in Finnish.

Often, the English "goblin
A goblin is a legendary evil or mischievous illiterate creature, a grotesquely evil or evil-like phantom.They are attributed with various abilities, temperaments and appearances depending on the story and country of origin. In some cases, goblins have been classified as constantly annoying little...

" is translated as "hiisi" in Finnish, due to the numerous similarities between the typical goblin and hiisi. In the Finnish translations of the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, where the word "goblin" is a synonym for "Orc
Orc (Middle-earth)
In J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy writings, Orcs or Orks are a race of creatures who are used as soldiers and henchmen by both the greater and lesser villains of The Silmarillion and The Lord of the Rings — Morgoth, Sauron and Saruman...

", hiisi is used as the translation for "goblin", whereas "orc" is translated as "örkki".
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.