According to a 2007 examine by the university of Iceland, an estimated 62% that the nation believe the the existence of elves is an ext than a fairy tale.

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When she to be nine years old, Jófríður Ákadóttir to be punished for disturbing an elf. Or at least, she to trust she was.

“We would play in this field between apartment structures in Reykjavík,” the icelandic singer/songwriter called me. “There was one absent bigger 보다 all the other ones that towered over the field. We were particular it’s an elf rock, and you shouldn’t disturb the elves. That was twice my size, and with some struggle I regulated to get up there. Mine friends warned me it to be a bad idea. And also then as I had my moment on height of it, i jumped down and as ns landed I little bit the within of mine mouth so blood was putting out that it. I ran residence crying, and also never touched the rock again.”


Ákadóttir’s story is solid unique. Iceland is a country riddled with stories the elves (smaller, human-like creatures with pointy ears), ‘hidden people’ (interdimensional human-like beings, called huldufólk in Icelandic) and fairies (if you’re reasoning Tinkerbell, you’re not far off). They’re believed to be peaceful creatures, co-existing together humans and also indulging in the same day-to-day activities, including fishing, farming, elevating families and also – if the legends are any kind of indication – sometimes lending a help hand to humans who otherwise would die without intervention.


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According to a 2007 research by the university of Iceland, much more than 60% that Icelanders think that elves could be much more than a fairy story (Credit: Ian Young)


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According to a 2007 study by the university of Iceland, an approximated 62% the the nation believe that the presence of this beings is more than a fairy tale. However, this statistic covers both thank you very much believers and agnostics that lean towards the ‘why not’ end of the spectrum.

It’s the latter, open-minded-but-questioning camp the Sigtryggur Baldursson, a Reykjavik local, drops into. His mom says she prospered up on an icelandic farm with invisible playmates the other children couldn’t see. (An anecdote he yielded with a disclaimer the it can have been a instance of “souped-up imagine friends”.) yet it’s the story the his grandmother’s brush v terminal cancer and her resulting recovery that provides him important wonder if his mother was friends through the huldufólk.

“My mother, one night she wakes as much as see physicians come into the room and also start treating my grandmother,” the recalled. “She was complying with the conversation the the nurse and two doctors. They to be talking amongst each other and also one that the medical professionals said, ‘Well ns think this is walk to it is in OK’. My mother was sort of relieved, and also went ago to sleep. In the morning, she asks her grandmother, that was just waking up: ‘Did girlfriend speak come the doctors last night?’. She grandmother said ‘What doctors? There were no medical professionals here’. The thing is, after ~ this, she had actually a miraculous recovery.”


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Huldufólk, or ‘hidden people’, are thought to be calm creatures that indulge in the very same daily activities as people (Credit: Ian Young)


Magnús Skarphéðinsson has a theory. Skarphéðinsson operation Reykjavik’s only Elfschool, an extension of the Paranormal structure of Iceland the introduces visitors to the topic of Iceland’s magical creatures. Billed together a lecture (used in the loosest sense of the word), it’s much more of an open up forum to talk about magic and also folklore, hosted over pancakes and coffee in a library lined with elf paraphernalia, including human-sized, light-up statues.


Tossing liquid bars to the class and also cracking jokes around elf sex, Skarphéðinsson confessed that he’s never met an elf or huldufólk in person. (“In the elf world, lock think i’m a maniac!” that cackles.) However, he is interviewed much more than 900 Icelanders who have. The number contains 75 who claim to have struck increase a friendship v an elf, and also 35 who claim to have actually been invited into elf homes. It’s much more than just believing the experience of her friend, or brother or mother. Iceland, the argues, has actually been uniquely primed to be open to non-traditional ideas, making that a safe location for elves to reveal themselves. Even though the Elfschool is a playful take on what Skarphéðinsson sees as crucial subject, he is an extremely serious when mentioning the topic of Iceland’s declining belief in elves.

“We would be life in a totally different society if the enlightenment had not began in the 1700s,” the told a recent Friday afternoon class. “But the knowledge had a terrible price. It eliminated faith. Faith is among the glues that keep civilisation together. Not just did it death faith, it killed myth. And also psychic ability. Many people think in elves in Iceland due to the fact that we to be isolated. The knowledge didn’t involved Iceland till 1941 once the American military invaded Iceland. Climate we had actually the Enlightenment and it began cleaning the elves away.”


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Magnús Skarphéðinsson, who run’s Reykjavík’s Elfschool, has met 35 world who say they have been invited right into elf homes (Credit: Ian Young)


Icelanders that do think in elves it seems ~ unconcerned through it sit side-by-side v atheism or timeless religion. During his class, Skarphéðinsson tells stories of Icelandic priests baptising huldufólk youngsters (a move, the theorises, to develop a bridge between the 2 communities); and also the icelandic Fairytales handbook the passes the end to the class contains a story that The Elfchurch that Tungustapi, about a person discovering one elf church.

Baldursson recalled the his mother, a devout Christian, felt likewise on the subject. “There’s a many in the spiritual life I have no idea about,” Baldursson remembers she commenting. “But I believe that ns a friend of Christ and also he’s a girlfriend of mine, and I’ll it is in fine.”


Pam Shaffer, a license is granted therapist, suggests that believing in something bigger than yourself deserve to inspire other positive beliefs. If your people is already vast enough to encompass elves, why not think also bigger?

“Magical thinking is in reality an advantage for people in general,” she explained. “Even if girlfriend haven’t interacted with elves or huldufólk yourself, believing the they space out over there can broaden your people view, which leader to adaptability of thought and also open-mindedness. This is beneficial due to the fact that being mentally and emotionally versatile helps human being overcome obstacles in life and also have much better relationships overall. Essentially, believing in a human being outside of ours own broadens the horizons that what our people can be.”


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It is believed that elves and also huldufólk do their houses inside huge rocks discovered mainly on beaches and lava fields (Credit: Ian Young)


It’s difficult to determine how countless Icelanders host a sincere id of elves or huldufólk. Certainly, the really fact part do believe has end up being tied up with the country’s ever-expanding travel market. Next to puffins, lock a renowned souvenir topic – and ‘seers’ ready to take tourists on walks to satisfy elves has come to be a cottage industry.

However, the idea that daily life in Iceland is design to be elf-inclusive is very simplified.

In 2013, a group led by Ragnhildur Jónsdóttir protested a roadway that was reserved to reduced through the homes of a huldufólk ar located in a lava field. (It’s generally believed that elves and huldufólk do their houses inside large rocks found mainly ~ above beaches and also lava areas – i m sorry Skarphéðinsson claims are more stable between dimensions.) The construction was stopped while the government operated to find an amicable solution. However, G Pétur Matthíasson, head of interaction at the Icelandic roadway and coastal Administration, watch the adjust of plans as a helpful move, not one motivated by belief.

“One the the protesters, she was doing the elf angle,” he described of the protest and resolution. “She was interested in this one huge rock that remained in the heat of the road. We then look at it, not with believing in elves, yet believing that elves or hidden world are component of our social heritage. Us looked at this huge rock formation and also saw that it to be unique, and decided that due to the fact that we could move , us would shot to do that.”


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Certainly, in a populace of around 340,000 people, taking your neighbour’s beliefs and also values into factor to consider is crucial in maintaining the peace. In the Reykjavík suburb that Hafnarfjörður, because that example, elf shrines (small altars, sometimes with candles) and undisturbed lava rocks dot the yards that houses, particularly those bordering Hellisgerdi Park – a spot recognized for its considerable elf activity, and the ar of countless elf-seer walks. There’s also a big stone in the garden of Þjóðkirkjan, the neighbourhood’s branch of the Icelandic national church, that has actually been left in ar rather than risk disturbing any inhabitants. These, together with cartoonish signs mentioning the visibility of elves, serve as a reminder that Iceland’s otherworldly presence, also as daily life grinds on.

Michael Nawrocki, the American co-director the the forthcoming documentary Iceland: A Story that Belief, go the same roads while filming. He defines encountering a similar level of acceptance in the id of huldufólk during his an initial trip to the country in 2016.


We look at it, not through believing in elves, yet believing that elves or hidden world are part of our cultural heritage


“Say you’re a homeowner and you have actually a rock formation in your backyard that has been designated as an elf rock, and you want to put in a hot tub. You start to break that elf absent apart, and also your neighbour comes out and says ‘What room you doing, it is an elf rock?’,” the said, recounting one of the story he uncovered if filming.

“That’s walk to typical trouble for you. Around 80-90% that Icelanders will leave alone. Part of that is that belief that maybe there’s miscellaneous there. Part of the is a social heritage. I’ll give up my hot bath tub for my elf rock.”


But for believers like Skarphéðinsson, the existence of elves is more than just a opportunity to play ‘what if’. He defines his id as an opportunity to use science and reason to some of life’s greatest questions – and adopt the truth that no-one will ever have every the answers.

“We don’t have a proviso why these creatures are pulled back and forth between dimensions,” he said. “The only thing you have the right to do is to collection all people’s experiences. The only resource of details is to find all possible witnesses and ask castle in detail: What do they look like? What to be they wearing? What is your opinion top top God and eternity? Why are they here?”

At this, he becomes much less serious and also takes a moment to laugh at himself.

“My friends have actually asked the elves ‘Why nothing you invite Magnús?’,” that said, chuckling at your reply: “‘We can’t. We’re afraid wednesday never get rid of him again’.”

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