Wednesday, September 29, 2010
The Vardøgers Among Us.
c. David Grim (taken 8/28/10)
To me there is something fascinating about concepts that have specific words attributed to them in other languages, but lack English equivalents. There are a lot of German terms that seem to describe very abstruse philosophical moods that are inflected by emotional states. Unfortunately I can't seem to remember examples all that well, and I doubt I could interject them into a discussion without achieving some sort of confused silence. When I try to translate them into my native language, they tend to come out sounding like Native American names (ex: "He-Who-Walks-Dourly-in-Complete-Frustration-Over-Inability-to-Truly-Connect").
So it is refreshing to discover a word that I can explain, but that still retains an intriguing hint of mystery. The Norwegians have a specific word to refer to the phenomena of a "warning soul". A "vardøger" is the appearance of a presence announcing the imminent arrival of another human being. It may present itself as footsteps that sound like your spouse coming home, or a smell that reminds you of someone, or the actual visual suggestion of a person you know. The rub is that the person that the vardøger represents is not yet in your presence, but is about to be. The vardøger is a premonition of contact with a living, breathing entity.
Apparently the Scandinavians experience this enough to have generated a one-word descriptor for it. That's amazing because I haven't really encountered many similar claims among my friends or family. Most of the people I know just show up without sending a virtual representative to announce their intentions. But that brings up a further point about the concept that I find interesting- evidently the vardøger will appear sometimes without being followed by a flesh-and-blood visitation. In some cases an individual may merely intend to show up somewhere, but will get distracted by something and not arrive. Still the vardøger will have shown itself, thus confusing the witness.
If this phenomenon does indeed exist, it's questionable as to whether it's an example of some sort of telepathy on the part of the viewer, or if it is an example of precognition (i.e. perceiving the future). The fact that intention is at issue suggests that it is the former, because sometimes the vardøger will not precede an actual appearance. It all makes me think that those Scandinavians are some pretty tricky folks.