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MY ICELAND: The hidden people

Here in Iceland, there is a long tradition of believing in Huldufólk, or ‘hidden people’. Huldufólk are mystical beings – people – who inhabit the natural world, living in rocks and appearing only to humans when they themselves wish to.

According to lore, Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden one day when God decided he would come down for an impromptu visit. And Eve being representative of her sex [many of us, anyway] she panicked because she hadn’t had time to wash and dress all of her children. So when God came down, she sternly instructed the children that were unwashed to stay out of sight. The clean children, she presented to God. And when He asked if these were all her children she replied yes, at which he became very angry [because obviously being God and everything, he knew she was lying] and declared that from now on, all the children that were hidden would remain hidden, as would all of their descendents.

And these became the Huldufólk.

Innumerable stories of Huldufólk sightings and experiences exist, and every Icelander grows up reading and/or hearing about them. These stories are as different as they are many. [For those of you who can read Icelandic, here are a few.] Sometimes the Huldufólk appeared asking for help, if they had a sick child for instance, in which case the human who came to their aid received something valuable in return, like a precious object or lifelong prosperity. If you crossed a Huldufólk person, however, you were in trouble. Terrible things could happen to either you or your loved ones if you went against their express and sincere wishes.

The Huldufólk live[d] in cliffs and large boulders, that in many cases were amazingly lavish on the inside. Many stories exist of instances where construction was to take place on sites where there were boulders, that some thought to be Huldufólk homes. Strange things would happen – equipment breaking down, workers having accidents or somehow coming to harm, and sometimes Huldufólk would appear in people’s dreams and entreat them to leave their homes alone. Famously, a road in Iceland was re-routed several years ago for this very reason.

Unfortunately it’s impossible to convey the mystique of the Huldufólk and their importance to the Icelandic nation and character – not in such a short post, and not without the actual stories. However, the picture above, taken at the same time as my sunset pic a few weeks ago, comes a little close.

… Not so hidden, I’m afraid, but rather full-on. We’re in for another storm like the one last weekend [and just when they’d got the running path cleaned up!], tonight and tomorrow. Which means I’ll likely have to resort to sweatyclammy treadmill running in some fitness studio tomorrow – I have such an aversion to those places, it’s quite remarkable. Winds from the southeast up to 25m/sec tomorrow, with buckets of rain. Sunrise this morning at 09.36 and sunset at 16.46.