Trolldom use of - Trollsländor (Dragonflies);
Dragonflies are called trollsländor in Swedish. The prefix troll- implies their involvement in magic and spiritual activity and -slända means spindle.
In old days it was thought that the dragonfly weighd the soul of all people they flew over on behalf of the Devil. An old Danish name for dragonfly is Fandens Ridehest meaning the horse of the devil. Experiencing it was regarded as a dangerous tyda that could mean someone had sent them to cause harm, disease or even death. They were also believed to be able to take away eyesight of people by stabbing them in their eyes or by stitching the eyes up.
Due to all these things it does not come as a surprise to anyone that they are used as gandflugor – “flies used to send gand” (gand being an old word for harmful trolldom) – and kept in boxes similar to the spiritus. Some lore describes their ability to find bad souls and take out their eyes also applies to the mouth and people lying. So in practicality these little beings can be used to find a thief and take out their eyes as well as put an end to slanderers.
I have been told that such flies are also painted on the Goavddis – the Saami magical drums and called upon when needed.
On the side of amusement it is possible that these old uses spread with the Danes to the British Isles and the folklore of these islands – where it has similar connections to devilishness and witchcraft. One can also speculate that this belief is far older since the dragonfly have a similar lore in Portugal and we have previously talked about how the Norse Vandals spread their lore in that direction (see “alecrim – ellegren – rosemary” in another post).
//Johannes Gårdbäck, The root doctor.