Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Icelandic Elves: Is There Reason to Believe?

The belief in elves in Iceland isn’t talked about amongst the people, but if privately polled, a great deal of them believe. The elves are supposedly associated with the Celtic origins of the people and adapted to their rocky surroundings. In fact, people believed the elves lived in rocky caves and rock outcroppings and in gardens that contain a lot of stones. It is for this reason that they’re hesitant to plow down earth and rock for roadways and new construction. A roadway had even been averted to avoid bothering the homeland of elves. Apparently, efforts to break a large rock for a roadway was met with equipment breaking down constantly. They finally gave up and left it.

The country even has mystics and elf communicators when the locals need permission or access to new areas. Such a concept seems quite strange, but remember that in America we have people who burn sage, bless homes, and regularly communicate with the dead through psychics. We also have those who believe they communicate regularly with aliens and ghosts. There are whole industries based on this, i.e. “Ghost Hunters” and “Miss Cleo.” One such Icelandic psychic said, “I think elves want people to preserve nature.” That's the kind of message I want to hear.

When you look at the creation of folklore such as elves, you have to look at it within the context of the surroundings. For instance, the Christian Church uses tote-ism (eating flesh/drinking blood) which was a pagan practice. When a new religion was begun, it took elements from what had been and adapted it. Should people from Celtic lands have elves, they can enter Icelandic mythology but be adapted to the surroundings. This is a country that is extremely beautiful and bleak and yet dynamic. There is seismic activity, hot springs, geysers, and volcanoes, in a mix that can only be called “potent” for phenomenon.

Wikipedia describes the geology of Iceland as,“unique and of particular interest to geologists. Iceland lies on the geologic rift between the Eurasian plate and the North American plate. It also lies above a hotspot, the Iceland plume, which is believed to have caused the formation of Iceland itself. The result is an island of volcanism and geothermal phenomena such as geysers. Because of the special geological situation in Iceland, the high concentration of volcanoes and geothermal energy are very often used for heating and production of electricity.

Imagine that power? Imagine those dynamics of being where two tectonic plates meet? Imagine the volcanic and seismic activity? I like to look for things within their context. Repeatedly, the Icelanders associate elves with rocks. The very rocks from a volcanic, dynamic environment are attributed with magical beings.

What do you think? Is it entirely possible that living in a place with so much Earth activity, electrical interruptions, equipment breakdown, and other strange phenomenon could be associated with the geology of the area? Then, with these things occurring and the people taking note of an extensively rocky environment, blame it on something hiding in the rocks.

Yes, something hiding in the rocks…

I’ve talked about the geology of haunted sites and whether the Earth itself creates phenomenon such as spooklights and strange occurrences like seen in the Romanian forest on the season opener of “Destination Truth” where the man appeared to be thrown. The case of Iceland and its elves seems to be a natural and expected folklore. In fact, where you hear ghost stories and you hear strange phenomenon and elemental creatures spoken of, you might be encountering a combination that’s got some truth to it.

It could certainly be that the sense of “something being in the rocks” is a very astute reaction by people who grew up in this dynamic terrain and have felt this presence and witnessed strange “Earth nightmares,” and have created a folklore to explain it. In the context of where they live, the elves in the rocks story is a perfectly logical explanation in order to continue to live in such dynamics and unpredictability.


  1. Great post - it makes sense that our folklore corresponds to our environment.

  2. another great post -
    the DT episode on elves was pretty cool, i mean they kept having their equipment malfunction and the camera that was apparently unplugged and physically does make you wonder
    eagerly waiting for tonite's episode.

  3. Thanks, Heather. You can see it a lot in folklore, trolls in Norway, Brownies in Great Britain, Puck, Hobgoblin... all adapted to the woods or the waterways or whatever was the mystery in that place.

  4. Sandra;
    Yeah, I wanted to jump into that place on DT. I'd love to see Iceland. I'd love to check the elfin activity and see how equipment holds up. Can't wait for tonight's episode--what a dream--a whole night in King Tut's Tomb!

  5. I remember seeing a documentary on leprechauns in Ireland several years was about the real stories behind leprechauns, not the kiddy versions you learn in elementary school around St. Patrick's day. I don't remember that much about it now, but I do remember it saying something to the effect of most Irish people don't believe in them now, although some of the farmers that claim to not believe in them avoid farming the areas traditionally believed to be leprechaun lands. Hmm...

  6. That was a great post! I would like to visit iceland one day!

  7. Jeff;
    If you listen to legends closely enough, you can tell what the people are sensing about their environment. Even if you look at make-believe things like Godzilla, it makes perfect sense the Japanese would design such a threat. You take crowded people on small islands being attacked by quakes and imagine that they feel very small and helpless in such an environment and the worse evil would be a giant stepping on their crowded streets. What we see in places like Ireland and Iceland are people reacting to things they feel in their environment. It could be that the ancients who built stone monuments were more in tuned with what that was and as time has gone on, it's just man noticing a fleeting sound or shadow and chalking it off to ghosts or fairies.

    I agree! Iceland is the top of my list, as are all the cold countries from Norway to Nova Scotia!

  8. That eppy of DT was another good one. I'm not sure about visitng Iceland, too cold for this desert dweller, but I enjoy seeing documentaries on it. Another cool post and interesting subject.

  9. YAY! Icelandic Elves! When I saw that DT episode on them, I got hooked on the whole thing. Read up on them on the web, and even bought myself a couple gnomes for my desk, that while not the same are similar in a respect. Now if only I could find a book on Icelandic elf folklore...

  10. Naveed;
    For pure entertainment, I suggest

    This one was written by one of their top psychics (can't find out of it's in English or not)

    They do an interview with Erla the psychic who talks to fairies.

  11. I am so glad you covered this Autumnforest!! I think the Icelandic elves (and the sociology with them) is so fascinating-I never thought a thing about Iceland's geology when encountered the story on them-but that makes a lot of sense!! Great article as always and like I say congrats again on your one year anniversary blogging!! ps -thinking back to Reykjavkik sometime around 1985 -I wonder what the Gipper and Gorby would have done if they would have seen one of those things:-) sorry I just can't avoid the political or parapolitical sometimes-all the best!!

  12. Dev;
    I wish they had sent elves in to give them a talking to. I'm hoping to spread the same theory to other areas like Mexico with its similar tectonics and mining and their issues with strange little creatures. Hmm...

  13. I must apologise, Autumn, for not quite having kept up w/ your PROLIFIC web log. But! Two days after you had originally posted this wonderful article, I had synchronistically posted this clip on facebook. Of course, then there's "my people's" own blog, perusable here. Please stop by & comment. Unfortunately, too, there ARE some elf supremacists about, witness Nicholas DeVere's archived online version of his pricy trade paperback, "The Dragon Legacy: The Secret History of an Ancient Bloodline", initially entitled, "From Transylvania to tunbridge Wells". Thank you for writing this piece, Autumn. i'd've never expected it from you.

    One of der Huldr Volk,
    Anadæ Effro (•8-D}

  14. Anadæ;
    I just knew you'd enjoy that. I have to admit, I feel a huge affinity for the people and the landscape of Iceland. I do have family there--my father's cousins, but I relate to it more than my father's home in Trondheim, and even grandmother's home in Lapland Sweden. I think I'm going to teach myself the language, just because I can. :-)

  15. Isn't there a possiblity that the Islandic Elves are homaniod group much like the ones found on the Island of Florence. I believe there could be a possibilty. That would be cool in the anthropological standpoint. I am currently at student at SIUE-Illinois whose major is Cultural Anthroplolgy

  16. ……. Wow, bettyeu69, this particular blogticle on this prolific blog site is over two years old and you just now responded. Kudos to you for going back to school. I always think that there's something us more mature students can always benefit from in attending an institution of higher learning at any age.

    Interesting speculation you posit there, but I personally think that the Scandinavian notion is less about an evolutionary model than about a parallel world model. See my earlier comment (above) with its hyperlinks, but also, refer to the excellent Kveldulf Gundarsson title, Elves, Wights, and Trolls for more insight along those (parallel dimension) lines. Happy researching! ~ (•8-D

  17. Hello. My name is Daniel Blom. I'm the founder of ghost hunters Overschie. A paranormal group from Holland. I have a question.. I'm looking for a paranormal group based in Iceland. Do someone know if there's a research groups in Iceland? Thanks.