Grumpy Goblin Lore
Ghouls, ogres, trolls, gremlins, imps, nilbogs, hobgoblins… Goblins have been called many different names. The variety of names for goblins is a clue that they are very common throughout the world.
No matter what name you use, a goblin is a strange, mischievous, evil-like creature. And they are all so grumpy! Some of them are small in size—sort of like elves, but not so cute. (Maybe if they weren’t so grumpy, they’d be cuter.) Other times they are almost as big as humans. Many goblins are shape-shifters, which means they can make themselves look like other living creatures.
They almost always possess unique magical abilities. What most people don’t know is that Goblins have terrible allergies to humans, which might be why they usually try to hide from us. When we get near them, sometimes they sneeze so badly that gobs of goop come flying out of their noses! Well, that goop is not like the yucky snot we’re used to seeing on our tissues when we have a cold.
Goblin snot sparkles! And, oddly enough, it possesses a magical ability to cure human grumpies if we’re ever infected with them. Try it! No matter how bad a mood you start out in, you might just laugh yourself silly.
But, when they aren’t sneezing out glittery goop, goblins are most well known for wreaking havoc on unsuspecting folks.
Here is one creepy tale about the strange creatures:
At the southern end of the Hudson Highlands is a wooded hillside called Dunderberg (or Thunder Mountain), where lives a crew of stout goblins, whose leader, the Heer, is a round goblin who still wears clothes like those worn by Dutch colonists two centuries ago. The Heer carries a speaking-trumpet, through which he bawls his orders for the winds to blow and lightning to strike. These orders are given in an old language we wouldn’t understand, and the imps follow the instructions, hurling into the air and tumbling about in the mist, sometimes smashing the flag or topsail of a ship to ribbons, or leaning the vessel over until she is in peril of sinking.
At one time a sloop passing the Dunderberg had nearly sunk in such a storm as this, when the crew discovered the sugar-loaf hat of the Heer perched on the mast-head. None dared to climb for it, and it was not until she had driven past Pollopel's Island—the far edge of the Heer's land—that the ship righted. As she did so the little hat spun into the air like a top, creating a wind tunnel that drew up the storm clouds, and the sloop made her way safely through the rest of the voyage.
How did this happen, you ask? The captain, always having been superstitious, had nailed a horse-shoe to the mast, and its powers of good luck were proven on that very night.
The Hat Rogue that lives above the Devil's Bridge at St. Gotthard’s Pass in Switzerland is most likely some kind of goblin or twisted gnome. While his mischief is usually of a harmless sort, to be on the safe side, the Dutchmen who once plied along the river and passed under the bridge used to always lower their sails to honor the creature, who was thought to be the keeper of the mountain. For many years this was a common practice.
Likewise, mariners who honored the Heer of the Dunderberg in this way were never disturbed by his imps. However, forgetting this custom, on one voyage skipper Ouselsticker of Fishkill—who at the time had a parson and his wife on board—was stricken by a heavy storm, and the goblin came out of the mist and sat astraddle of his bowsprit, guiding his schooner straight toward the rocks. The parson chanted the song of Saint Nicolaus, and the goblin, unable to tolerate either its spiritual potency or the parson's out-of-tune singing, shot upward like a ball and rode off on a gust of wind, carrying with him the nightcap of the parson's wife, which he hung on the weathervane of a church steeple forty miles away.