Tag Archives: Huldufolk

Tracking Elves in the Icelandic North

While searching for elves in North Iceland, I found this farm. It has a church and a manure spreader and a human house, so pretty well-equipped. Plus an elf house, of course.

Cold Rainy Day!

Here’s the elfin view of the, um, colonial improvements. A tractor and mower, too, as you can see, just south of the Arctic Circle. Brr.

It’s always this way. It’s not that there were elves here before humans. They came along in human heads, but they needed a place, and so houses (and churches) were allotted for them too, which means that the humans had to choose well. Here’s the view out over the human camp to the sea.

And look at the tumble of elves crowding up agains the road, unable to cross! Tut tut.

Humans are sweet. When you build a new house down by the water, in the wind, you put a graveyard in the old one, where your ancestors lived while alive. They can live on there, with their elf neighbours.

So, all in all, a good social relationship!

The Secret of Álfaborg

You can go visit the elves in Borgarfjörður Estri, if you like.

Off to Álfaborg with you!

You can read all the magical traditions about this rock here: The Alfaborg Story.

Still, it would do your mind well to forget all that and go walking among the stone heads in the rain.

You will find magic enough as the fog rolls in.

As the contours of the land turn to air and water, you will  begin to feel like rain yourself.

Every stone takes on great significance as the sky vanishes.

And that’s the point. The fjords south of here have been abandoned. The weather is just too terrible. You are alone with rock. There is no sky, only earth that has become it, and maybe a homestead you can scratch together out of mud.

The stones, though, are a kind of sight. You see them because out of this dissolving world, they stand out. Birds use them to see. They are, in face, eyes, or islands of sight in the rain.

They are shelter. Whether they are rising from the earth or sinking into it, is not the point, because both are true at once.


On Álfaborg, one sees in at the same time one sees out. It is you who becomes the person of the stone, as you gain its vision, and see with more-than-human eyes.

Don’t even try to come home.

The Right Gifts to Leave in a Dwarf’s Church

So, you’ve made it through the fog …

… and across the bridge …

… and the other bridge …

…carefully! …

… to the Troll Church in Seyðisfjörður…

… with its skylight and its steeple …

… but what do you leave for the dwarves? You want to be a good guest, right? Well, a needle and some wool, maybe?

A flower? Heather is a good choice.

And the blue of the sky and the sea and the white of the waves.

And shiny things. 1 kronur coins with their flashing codfish are perfect. Dwarves love shiny things.

Might as well admire the view, eh.

And the human church next door. Not so well-built, of course. Not so experienced with stone work. Poor things.  Great with plastic, though!

And then back. What else? Easy does it.

And to town.

And, yes, the dwarves have come along. The Icelanders will call it “nature,” because they’re polite and they know that the rest of us like that stuff. They know better. They even call it a “town”…


… when it is really, two. Such good manners! Such sneakiness!

Christmas Between the Worlds

On the woman’s hill on Viðey, it is possible to walk between worlds.p1340121

It is here the stones speak a language that is neither Icelandic nor English. It is an eruption of physical presence.

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Whatever words we who are human speak, it is no less and no more than this ability to walk through bodies lifted into the air until they become it, and then to breathe them in the same moment as our walking.

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This breathing is our way of talking to our ancestors, who the living call the dead. They’re hardly dead.

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Not as long as we keep walking among them.

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Not as long as we continue to honour them with devotion to each other.

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Let us listen with all that we are.

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Let us trust the old paths of care.

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Let us honour the conversation and the giving forth and the point at which we become the earth at the point that it becomes us.

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For it either goes on without us or with us, and we can so be there.

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Let us go give thanks by being there.p1310489

Let us be honourable children. Let us be there.

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Let us give praise, however we can.

p1310671However you can, let us find the silence at the heart of speech. Let us stand aside. Let us give each other that much honour.p1400536 Let us be the speech at the heart of silence. Let us be gathered in.

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For we are all the living.

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We have much to talk about. bright2

We have much to walk together through the stillness that gives us movement and stills us at the same moment.troll

 

Let us rejoice.