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Illustration of an Útburð.

In medieval Iceland, there are times when mothers weren‘t able to afford to care for their newborns as they already had enough children, then they would leave the babies alone out in the lava fields where they would eventually die. It is said that the babies after death would turn into a ghost known as Útburður. Their appearance is that of a bird, a raven, their colour is dependent on the colour of the cloth the mother wrapped her child in. Útburður flutter around, if one is seen, you shall not hesitate to follow it, as it'll eventually lead to their mother. "They howl immensely during bad weather"[1], they don't speak, with an exception, when an Útburður visited its mother in a sheepfold, reciting the following verse:

"My mother in the fold of sheep,

Do not worry, do not weep,

I shall lend you my blood-red rag

For you to wear, for you to wear."

Sources:

  1. https://grapevine.is/culture/art/2016/04/10/monster-of-the-month-utburdur/
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