||[Sep. 22nd, 2008|06:02 pm]
Mythical Realms: Folklore & Mythological Arts
Article from Iceland Review:|
A couple of weeks ago Eygló wrote her Daily Life about “Iceland's hidden people” and referred to a study concluding that Icelanders are more superstitious than any other people in the Western world.
While I can't personally vouch for the existence of elves and trolls who hide in rocks and hillsides in Iceland (after all, they supposedly remain invisible to humans most of the time), I can tell you about my recent visit to the Ghost Centre in Stokkseyri, south Iceland.
The centre, which is set up as a maze, features Iceland's most famous ghost stories. Upon entry you are given a CD and Discman to help guide you through the 24 tales. The idea is that you are guided around the centre by listening to the stories as you pass certain scenes depicting the environment in which the events took place.
It would spoil the whole experience if I revealed too much about this place but let’s just say that you can literally feel the presence of the “ghosts” around you. And I know I wasn't the only one to scream more than a few times—and that's before the ground started rumbling with a simulated earthquake.
The 40-minute tour introduces different kinds of ghosts in Iceland. For example, it was believed that if an infant was not baptized before its death it was doomed to haunt. Another story tells of a man who saw the crew of a ship at Stokkseyri naked on the street. Legend has it that the men drowned the following winter. Ghosts also appear in the Icelandic Sagas and thus have been part of Icelandic history and storytelling for centuries.
Apparently what sets Icelandic ghosts apart from others is that they tend to carry weapons. Icelandic ghosts also come in many different forms. Stories tell of talking skeletons, male, female and infant ghosts, drunken ghosts, and ghosts disguised as animals. There is even speculation as to whether ghosts immigrated along with Icelanders to Canada in the late 1800s. One theory states that immigrant ghosts did exist but that their survival in the new country was short due to difficulties of being accepted by the native ghosts, assimilation and reproduction. [...]