The Moss-Woman
According to German folklore, one of the moss or wood folk
who dwelled in the forests of Bavaria, in southern Germany.
Their stature was small and their form strange and uncouth,
bearing a strong resemblance to certain trees. They were a simple,
timid, and inoffensive race, and had little intercourse with
humankind, approaching only at rare intervals the lonely cabin
of the woodsman or forester to borrow some article of domestic
use or to beg a little of the food being prepared for the family
meal. They would also, for similar purposes, appear to laborers
in the fields that lay on the outskirts of the forests. A loan or
gift to the moss-people was always repaid manifold.
But the most highly-prized and eagerly-coveted of all mortal
gifts was a draught from the maternal breast for their own little
ones; for this the moss-people held to be a sovereign remedy
for all the ills to which their natures were subject. Yet it was only
in the extremity of danger that they could so overcome their
natural diffidence and timidity as to ask this boon—for they
knew that mortal mothers turned from such nurslings with disgust
and fear.
It would appear that the moss or wood folk also lived in
some parts of Scandinavia. Thus it was believed that in the
churchyard of Store Hedding, in Zealand, there were remains
of oaks that were trees by day and warriors by night.
Sources
Arrowsmith, Nancy, and George Moorse. A Field Guide to the
Little People. New York Wallaby, 1977.