While in a sauna, it is always important to behave respectfully. While sharing a public sauna with others, this is obvious. But even while in your own private sauna you should be respectful, lest you incur the wrath of your sauna gnome.
The blog, Masks of Eris, brought this to our attention in their post “Romancing the Sauna Gnome.” If you are a sauna enthusiast, this short piece is a must-read. Sauna gnomes can take up residence in any inviting sauna. Kept happy, they will help keep the sauna neat and tidy. Should you anger them, the consequences can be dire.
For instance, take a look at the consequences of being overzealous when pouring water on the stove:
Too much water means the sauna will become unbearably hot and steam-filled; the gnome will become reddened and angered, and as you stumble out, unable to take the heat, the gnome will stick out a leg and you will crash head-first against the door. Half the sounds you’ll hear in your ears will be the gnome’s harsh laughter; the rest will be you, screaming. Then when you’ve had a break and return to the benches, the gnome will have had time to place hand-made thumbtacks on them; and when you take the next break, a birch demon has drunk your beers and urinated them full, while the gnome has been on the opposite edge of the roof, loudly saying to itself: “Gee! I’m not guarding the beers! Sure hope nobody will drink them and urinate them full because I’m so old and decrepit I know I wouldn’t notice!” — birch demons are not the sharpest twigs in the forest, but eventually they take a hint.
Other infractions of sauna etiquette can bring about punishment from the sauna gnome. As the author notes, if you contemplate the potential in “a dark and hot room with a pile of red-hot stones in one corner, plenty of basins and bowls of water of varying temperatures in another, and the humans nude on raised benches closer to these than to the door, their privates against the slatted benches and darkness below, the revenge of the gnome can be terrible, surprising and memorable indeed.”
Among the worst of these, is if the sauna gnome decides to feed your towels to a moose, since “once a moose in your neighborhood get the taste of cloth, your washing line isn’t safe.”
So be reverent in the sauna. Make sure you give your sauna gnome ample warning before you throw a ladle of water on the rocks, and… um… keep your sauna gnome satisfied if he or she shows you some signs. (You’ll have to read the original article to understand that.)