It’s rare that this blog features a helpful spirit–even if he’s a bit on the mischievous side. (And what’s the point of being a spirit if you don’t have a mischievous side, I ask you.) But the Kobold is a spirit you want to take home with you. To do your laundry.
Kobolds are house spirits, who love doing household chores, a real boon if you happen to live in Middle Ages Germany, where laundry day means first boiling the water. And making the soap yourself.
Kobolds can look like animals, humans, or they can be completely invisible forever. Though they’re beneficial when given their way, they don’t like people being too curious about them, and there are many bad stories about what happens when people try to see what a Kobold looks like against its will. In fact, all the Kobolds of Cologne, Germany, left the city because a tailor’s wife set a trap for one of them, to trip it so she could see it. Kobolds have also appeared as naked children with knives in their backs, and drowned babies.
Most sources say that Kobolds make their own decisions on choosing houses. If you come home and there are wood chips on the floor and cow dung in the milk, a Kobold might be testing to see if you’re a good master. Drink the milk and leave the chips, and the Kobold will stay. But Benjamin Thorpe said that you can take a bag into the forest between noon and one on June 24 and look for an anthill with a bird on it. If you say the right incantation, the bird turns into a person and jumps into the bag. Then you can carry it home.
Not only will the Kobold do the dishes, keep the floor clean, and keep unwanted pests away, it might also bring you food and gifts from unknown sources. It might turn out those unknown sources are your neighbours, though.
Don’t cross the Kobold. If it takes a dislike to you, it’ll make your life wretched. And it might take a spontaneous dislike to some of your guests. It’s just like that. If a Kobold decides it doesn’t like someone, it will play pranks on that person until they leave.
Never mock or disrespect the Kobold. See the previous paragraph. The Kobold expects to be fed at the same time, in the same place every day (though some only eat once a week). They enjoy grits, gruel, and bread soaked in milk.
Come back next week to hear about a famous Kobold from Hanover, Germany.
Donald Grant Mitchell, Fresh Gleanings; Or, A New Sheaf from the Old Fields of Continental Europe, Harper, 1847
Melville, Francis; The Book of Faeries: A Guide to the World of Elves, Pixies, Goblins, and Other Magic Spirits, 2002, Quarto Inc