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The curse of the Icelandic lava stone!

Bizarre report in Fréttablaðið this morning. Seems a British [ex-] tourist who took a lava stone back home with him a couple of years ago experienced major misfortunes in his private and public life on returning to the UK. He blames the stone, and has now mailed it back to Iceland, asking that it be returned to its natural habitat.

Removing stones or rocks from Iceland is actually illegal. [Don’t know why — maybe it stems from the old paranoia that the big scary foreigners will take all our land if we let them.] [Or maybe it’s because there are all these precious stones to be found here.] [I dunno.] So this dude was clearly breaking the law — and paid for it. [Moral: don’t mess with the Icelandic elves!*]

“This is tied to folklore about stones,” ethnologist Kristinn H. Schram tells Fréttablaðið. He goes on to say that natural stones feature highly in many Icelandic folk tales, and that there are stones that create fortune [magic stones], and also those that create misfortune. According to those folk tales, a person needed a great deal of insight and knowledge to know the difference between the two. The best time to find the lucky stones is reported to be on Midsummer Night.

[Indeed, I can reveal that Yours Truly was quite fascinated with these myths as a child, and distinctly remember trying to pump my grandmother for information about how to know which stones were good, and which were bad. I also remember that I found her answers totally inadequate.]

Kristinn Schram: “On the other hand you could link this with the belief in charmed places. There is an old folk myth that these different locations were actually owned by some sort of spirit or elf, whose wrath would come down on any farmer who made use of them [i.e. the locations]. It would be to his advantage, on the other hand, not to do so.”

Be that as it may, we can only hope that the poor British tourist will get some respite from his troubles now.

The nasty stone being returned to its habitat

[Photo nicked from visir.is]

* And lest any of you think this proves I believe in elves, let me state: I am being sarcastic.



Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Michael Lewis June 30, 2010, 12:22 pm

    Thanks for the warning, got my fishing trip coming up. Any rocks I take back to Blighty will be those I bring with me!

  • Karen June 30, 2010, 12:42 pm

    What’s wrong with believing in elves?

    I don’t necessarily believe all the stories, or that they are exactly as described, but I do believe that……

    “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, then are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

  • Lissa June 30, 2010, 12:43 pm

    Back in Sept. of 2008, one of my tour guides told this story. He later on pointed to a pile of “safe” stones, slag from some kind of mining, that he said we could safely take.

    The Natural History Museum at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC has a huge chunk of volcanic rock from Iceland on display. I spotted it from across the room.

  • d June 30, 2010, 1:24 pm

    Oh my holy moses, I had exactly the same experience as that guy! I brought a few of the wonderfully shiny black stones from the top of a mountain in the East that took me a day of city-boy scraggling to climb. And when they got to the UK – no when they got to the outdoor smokers gas chamber on the Norona – they became dull and I had a crap year!

    Like this guy, I returned the stones. And of course, my luck has been better ever since.

  • Mike June 30, 2010, 2:39 pm

    Iceland isn’t the only place with cursed lava. The volcano observatory on Big Island, Hawaii regularly gets lumps of rock in the post from tourists who think they’ve been cursed by the goddess Pele who lives in the crater Halemaʻumaʻu.

    Though if this were true, I’d be the most cursed man on the planet – there’s enough lava in my house to make a sizeable mountain of my own. Having said which perhaps its the curse of the lava that’s stopped me meeting that beautiful millionairess?


  • Tom Harper June 30, 2010, 3:21 pm

    Not gonna lie, I took a loose lava rock back for my father. No misfortunes!

  • Carol T. June 30, 2010, 5:26 pm

    This reminds me of taking sand from Hawaii. I nearly took some and was warned that I would be mailing it back there. There is also a superstition that anyone taking sand from there will have tons of bad luck, once home. I thanked the people who warned me and put the sand back!

  • Egbert June 30, 2010, 5:35 pm

    Nasty stones and black helicopters! That’s some double deadly stuff you’ve got up north.

  • idunn June 30, 2010, 7:14 pm

    As others have spoken of Iceland is not alone in this respect, with Hawaii, surely among others, with a mystical prohibition against natural souvenirs. It is very real for some, but evened by others who probably never knew or cared. National parks in the US have such a prohibition, enforced with man’s law, which is probably a good thing as tourists can eventually cart off an amazing amount of stuff.

    Elves or not, there are many positive and negative places of energy on this Earth which will affect anyone. Strangely the more obtuse more be more resistant at first. In this a rock from Iceland, or elsewhere, would carry some of its native energy with it. If taken from the wrong spot . . .

  • Michael Lewis June 30, 2010, 8:38 pm

    Having said which perhaps its the curse of the lava that’s stopped me meeting that beautiful millionairess?

    Have a read of the comments, its the negative energy in your stones that are putting them off…

  • Mike June 30, 2010, 9:58 pm

    @ Michael Lewis

    Damn! Sometimes I think this whole ‘science’ thing is overrated 😉

    Though I’ve just been told my own negative energy could put most people off. It’s nice to have friends – or so I’m told.

  • Meagan June 30, 2010, 11:14 pm

    Well, I definitely (unknowingly) broke the law when I visited last year. But I haven’t had had any bad luck, or no more than usual!

  • R.L.Dogh July 1, 2010, 12:02 am

    According to the Iceland’s Tourism agency carried away stones found to carry curses should be carried back by in person, who should, to obtain the most effective removal of the curse, remain for a minimum seven-day stay. Mailing may or may not work, depending if the curse is or is not homesick.
    And according to the dyslexic high-priest, “Those who poo-poo the Elves in Iceland can find themselves in a world of tish.”

  • None July 1, 2010, 2:20 am

    i water my(figure of speech) Icelandic mosses with imported Icelandic water,my(figure of speech)lava rocks also get a dose…these were carefully selected for travel to usa.Believe i have Thor and Gods’ Blessings to posse ,as us customs x-ray equipment failed to detect.
    in closing,as in (miracle on 34 street)There are ELVES.
    May the spirit of peace fill the, air ,we each believe is there,yet can only see when polluted

  • kay July 23, 2010, 10:09 pm

    damn i took mine from that black stone beach above akrane about 2 months ago. No bad luck yet, seeing them makes me very happy in fact !