In Norse mythology, a vǫrðr (“warden,” “watcher” or “caretaker”) is a warden spirit, believed to follow from birth to death the soul (hugr) of every person. In Old Swedish, the corresponding word is varþer; in modern Swedish vård, and the belief in them remained strong in Scandinavian folklore up until the last centuries. The English word ‘”wraith” is derived from vǫrðr, while “ward” and “warden” are cognates.
At times, the warden could reveal itself as a small light or as the shape (hamr) of the person. The perception of another person’s warden could cause a physical sensation such as an itching hand or nose, as a foreboding or an apparition. The warden could arrive before the actual person, which someone endowed with fine senses might perceive. The warden of a dead person could also become a revenant, haunting particular spots or individuals. In this case, the revenant warden was always distinct from more conscious undeads, such as the draugar.
Under the influence of Christianity, the belief in wardens changed, and became more akin to the Christian concept of a good and a bad conscience.
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