MessageToEagle.com – Known in various mythologies under different names such as ‘Knocker’, ‘Coblynau’, ‘Kobold’ or ‘Skarbnik’ (The Treasurer), these mythological spirits were believed to be a species of fairies that had their dwellings in the rocks and crevices, but their homes were invisible to mortal eyes.
They made noises and knocks to announce their own presence, the presence of metal and minerals or they could assist a miner giving helpful tapping warnings of looming danger.
These ugly and often naughty creatures were stealing candles, hiding clothes and picks. Sometimes they were malevolent by threatening miners during their hard and dangerous work.
Belief in these mine spirits was once widespread especially in Celtic areas which were heavily mined, for example Wales and Cornwall. In German folklore, known as Kobolds they were known as Kobolds (“good house” or “rogue”) of German fairy lore are a species of fay very similar to the knockers of England living in mine and take pleasure in playing tricks on people.
Originally, they seem to come from Cornwall, but there are many variations across Europe. In Finland, they are known as Paras and in Scotland called the Black Dwarves.
What all these figures have in common is that they both can help the miners, and make them troubles.
In Cornwall, they are known as ‘knockers’ and their German relatives are ‘Kobolds’. The Cornish ‘knocker’ is a ‘Coblynau’ in Wales.
In ancient Slavic beliefs, there is a ‘spirit living in the underground (especially mining), guarding the natural resources of the earth and buried treasures. The so-called Treasurer’, (in Polish ‘Skarbnik’, is known under different Slavic names) and is very similar to the ‘knicker’ or ‘Coblynau’
People believed the spirit was the ruler of the underground kingdom, which took the souls of the miners who died while working in the mine.
The ‘Treasurer’ appeared most often in the form of an old, bearded miner with torch of the hand, he could also take the form of a goat, horse, dog, mouse, frog, spider, flies. He might as well be invisible; the miner could sense their presence or hear knocking.
The worst thing one can do is to swear or whistle. The knocker does not like it, so the miners used to to leave some to be on good terms with the knocker. In Germany, the miners greeted the knockers by lifting their helmets before they went into the mine.
The knockers appear under different names in folklore of many cultures as the most persistent of all mining superstitions that accompany miners.
At night, knockers – almost as long as humans and dressed in red coats, knees belts and handkerchiefs tied round their heads – leave the mines to dance in the moonlight.
In Bohemia, a historical region in central Europe, flanked by Germany, Poland, the Czech historical region of Moravia, and Austria, ancient people also believed in ‘knocker’, an underground creature known as the haus-schmiedlein (“little house-smiths”).
Bohemia’s mythological knockers were also associated with the sound of a smith working hard at his anvil or with a miner.
People believed that whenever a miner’ death is imminent, they would knock three times upon the wall; when an accident was about to occur they could imitate the sounds of miners at work.
It is rather easy to understand that the dark, confined and dangerous interior of a mine would be conducive to creating belief in supernatural creatures, and other superstitions that ‘surrounded’ hard working miners.
Many miners considered them to be ghosts of dark underground realms and to keep on their good side, miners would leave a portion of their food for them.