May 27, 2019
As indicated earlier, the Three Maidens can take on a staggering variety of guises. Here are four more of them:
The Kirnberg at Berchtesgaden
There are three rock pinnacles called the “Drei Jungfrauen” (“Three Maidens”) on the Kirnberg mountain near Berchtesgaden. Once, these three maidens braided each others' hair when the church bells called for the rite of Eucharist. Upon hearing this, they did not bother to make the sign of the cross, and one of them said: “Eucharist? Who cares!” For this blasphemy all three of them were turned to stone.
Commentary: Here we have a rare instance of the three maidens in the actual process of committing the sin that dooms them, instead of haunting their former home and waiting for salvation. The petrification is a bog-standard form of divine punishment, however.
The Castle Hill at Wolfratshausen
There once stood a castle near Wolfratshausen inhabited by three maidens, but the castle has long since sunk into the ground. A treasure is hidden within it, and once a brave man was able to take as much with him as he was able to carry.
He first took the precaution of carrying an amulet dedicated to the Lord God and the Virgin Mary so that the Devil would not be able to harm him. Then he approached the site and came to a black dog with fiery eyes sitting in front of a cave, but the dog did not bar his passage. He entered a room and saw three maidens lying in three beds. One of the three maidens, with a white upper half and a black lower half, was awake while the other two slept.
As he admired the fine bed linen, the half black, half white maiden told him to touch it with his fingers, but a fire arose that burned his fingertips. He did not let that deter him from his goal, however, but walked towards two chests filled with money. On one of the chests there was a snake with a key in its mouth, which he was able to take without any problems.
He opened the chest, and the half black, half white woman told him not to take more than he was able to carry, which he heeded. He was able to get out of the cave without any problems, but he was greatly harassed on his subsequent way home. The Devil appeared to him in all sorts of forms and attempted to hinder him. At one point he was thirsty and the Devil offered him something to drink. However, he didn't take any - for all of it was just illusions conjured to distract him from his goal.
The three maidens themselves were once very rich women who wanted to divide their wealth between each other. Two of them were blind and were cheated by the evil, half black and half white maiden. The money was measured with a measuring cup. Whenever she distributed her own portion she filled the cup entirely. However, when she measured her sisters' portions she turned the cup upside down and covered only its bottom with money. She then let her sisters touch the bottom so that they could feel that the cup was full.
Because of this betrayal she is damned. The Devil whips her with sticks until her skin hangs in tatters. At midnight he throws her on her bed, where she heals immediately. This punishment will continue until all money is carried away.
Commentary: Here we have a rare case of someone actually succeeding in getting (some of) the treasure. The key seems to be to be brave, and to trust in God and the saints - which apparently helps with the classical treasure guardians (the black dog and the snake).
The three maidens appear in their guise of “damned souls” (though it is not clear why all three of them can be spotted in the room if only the third one is damned), and we also get a clear description of which half of the “evil maiden” is black and which is white. Finally, “taking the treasure of ghosts” is a fairly common trope if you want to release them from purgatory - do a good deed and get rich at the same time!
Translation notes: The text doesn't explicitly state that the fire appeared when the treasure hunter touched the fingertips, but this interpretation makes more sense than him touching something burning without need.
The “measuring cup” in the story represented the “Viertelmaß” or “Futtermaßel”, an Austrian grain measuring unit equaling approximately 0.96 liters.
The Three Maidens at Deisenhofen
A very long time ago, three maidens were frequently spotted in the cellar of the Forsterbauer farmers. The farmer's wife left cream in the cellar for churning butter, and they also spun flax and completed other domestic chores. However, since they were naked, one day the farmer's wife decided to give them newly made shirts in order to reward them for their labors. Since that day they were never seen again.
The farm where they had been seen is located on a small hill, and the local farmers claim that several underground chambers are located within it.
Commentary: Here we see the three maidens at both their lowest and their strangest - instead of being saints or damned souls, they are now reduced to mere household spirits. Naked household spirits, at that - and they have the same aversion as other household spirits to being given unasked-for payment (particularly newly-made clothes).
Deisenhofen is now part of the town of Oberhaching, slightly to the south of Munich.
Translation notes: The German “Forsterbauern” might refer to a family name, or simply to farmers who lived and worked close to a forest. It is also likely that both of these were true at the same time, as old descriptions gradually became official surnames.
The Three Mojes of Aislingen
Whenever there is a fire in the village of Aislingen, it never burns more than the ridge of the roof and doesn't spread further. This is thanks to the Three Mojes, three maidens who once crawled on all fours along a circle around the village. To honor their memory, a stone was erected with a relief depicting the three maidens, and every Saturday prayers are dedicated to them in the local church.
Commentary: Once again, German folklore refuses to categorize what precisely happens. Were these maidens able to work their blessing because they were fairies, saints, or mages of some kind? We will never know, and it is quite possible that the original storytellers never cared.