The spirit of Karujärve

A more interesting and clear version of the forest spirit was the lake spirit. He would let himself be seen, heard, and you could even feel his physical force. The beautiful Karujärv is right next to where I grew up. He was there for sure, we all believed it, the young and the old: he had been seen by well respected people.

He could take many forms: an animal, a person, a ship and so on. He appeared on Saturday night, and then the lake was his. No boats would be on the lake on Saturday night, whereas on Sunday, for example, it was full of them, with singing and cheers to be heard. There were fishermen on weekdays as well, but on Saturdays, the lake was completely empty.

When I was on vacation there ten years ago, I went to the lake all alone on Saturday. I didn't feel very good: I felt like I had invaded another country and its peace. And I can't say I didn't try to see whether anything's in sight. There were also those who had gone to the lake on Saturday night, and had been punished. Here's a story like that.

The owner's father lived in our neighboring family, maybe 65 years of age or more. He was very big on fishing. It had been nice, windy and warm weather on a Saturday night. He could never resist that – great weather for fishing, and if you're on the lake at night, you can go out during dawn, when the fish bite the best.

He had been fishing about a verst from the shore. The fish had been biting well. The sun had gone down, but the midsummer light let him see the entire lake. Then he saw a boat coming towards him from afar, with sails high. He knew that it can't be right, because sailboats weren't used on lakes back then.

He pulled up his anchor stone and rowed towards the shore. But he couldn't get far, before the big boat hit him. He had screamed, waved his fishing rod at it – and then it suddenly disappeared. After a while he had seen a pig on the surface of the water, with a bunch of piglets feeding. The waves brought the animal lying on the water under the side of his boat very fast.

He hit it with a fishing rod, prayed – and then it disappeared. After a while, the waves brought a dead wolf under his boat. That as well disappeared after fighting it. A horse had ran towards him, and that had also disappeared. In that time, he had almost made it to shore, and without pulling it out of the  lake, jumped into the water and escaped, leaving the fish in the boat.

There are five beautiful islands in the lake, and on one of them there are a few hay barns. My brother Juhan and another man had been sleeping in one of the barns after a successful night of fishing. During the night, they suddenly heard a child desperately crying behind the barn. It was the lake spirit, because no child could have gotten on the island.

The men fell asleep in the barn, and in the morning, two of the biggest basses were missing from their bags.