Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Good News for Leprechauns

Iceland's’s otherworldly dimension doesn’t only surface in isolated locales. Around Reykjavik, roads have been diverted so not to disturb lava rocks where Huldufolk live. This chimes with beliefs in rural Ireland that interfering with "fairy" thorn bushes brings bad luck. As the Vikings had Irish slaves, it’s possible Celtic lore traveled with them.

Some Icelanders build "elf houses" in their gardens. Mentioned in the Sagas, elves were a race of minor gods associated with nature and fertility. They usually only appear to those gifted with second sight, but you can never be sure who you’re talking to. As elves (alfar in Icelandic) come in all sizes, larger ones are tricky to recognize.

As a powerful Icelandic spirit swore me to secrecy, I can’t reveal the exact whereabouts. But north of Borgarnes, there’s a roadside mound covered with dwarfish dwellings. The colony’s church strikes an odd note. Have these Huldufolk decided to abandon their pagan past?

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