Huldufólk. Why Do So Many Icelanders Believe In Elves?

On February 18, 2015 by Louis Falasha
Norway Troll Believers
Kewaunee River” by Chris RandOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Iceland. Aurora Borealis, hot springs, twisted daylight hours and Bjork. Folklore is still pretty archaic there too. A ridiculous percentage of people believe that Huldufólk, or ‘hidden people’, exist on a plane that runs parallel to the one we live on.

Loads of surveys have been conducted into Iceland’s inhabitant’s belief in the possibility of the existence of Huldufólk (elves, trolls, giants and the like). As satisfying as they can be, I can’t trust the accuracy of all surveys, there are too many social variables, but the number of people that are believers is astounding.

Norway Troll Believers Huldufólk
Elf houses“. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 de via Wikimedia Commons.

In July 1998, a survey conducted by Dagblaðið Vísir (whoever that is) found that 54.4% of Icelanders surveyed claimed to believe in elves, while 45.6% did not.

A 2006 survey found that 8.0% of 650 people were certain about the existence of Huldufólk, 16.5% thought it was likely they existed, 31.0% assumed it was possible, 21.5% thought it was unlikely, 13.5% thought it was impossible and 8.5% did not have an opinion on this.

This is a goodun:

A survey conducted by the University of Iceland in 2007 found that 62% of the 1,000 respondents thought it was at least possible that elves exist.

I’m sure this is subjective to the social and cultural position of who was surveyed but still, quite a lot of Icelanders have such fantastic beliefs.

Norway Troll Believers - Peat House
Glaumbaer9” by TommyBeeOwn work. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

It gets crazier. Many road construction projects have been halted due to the disturbance it may cause to the little Elf dudes that live in the area. Bonkers. In December 2013, The Guardian printed a story about one of the many super-natural construction obstructions. The headline was brilliant:

Elf lobby blocks Iceland road project

Supreme court to rule on case brought by Friends of Lava, who cite environmental impact of highway and effect on elf culture

I can’t imagine the authorities are too concerned about disturbing the local Huldufólk residents but have to pretend to act when so many nationals kick off about it.

Considering only psychic mediums can communicate with the Hidden People and their houses appear to us as massive rocks, it’s not really evidence enough for me. Which is a shame because I REALLY, REALLY WANT ELVES TO EXIST! Can just imagine how funny it would be to play the clairvoyant game in that situation. “Hold on builders! Yep, all clear. The trolls are a bit grumpy but are settling into that boulder over there nicely.”

Norway Troll Believers Troll House

An Icelandic Troll House – apparently.

Álfaborg, Iceland” by I, Schorle. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Icelandic painter Karl Jóhann Jónsson, waxes it like this:

If I paint something that doesn’t exist I could think that the painting becomes proof of its existence. Elves exist in people minds. But do they exist in the real world? Indeed what is the real world?

That’s a bit ontological for my liking. If I imagine a man named Peter Pookoohausen from Lemington Spa hopped on one leg continuously for eleven hundred years, resulting in the ability to hop to the moon whist eating eight billion pork pies consecutively, does that mean it actually happened? Where do the lines of existence cross?

The land of eternal twilight. Iceland in June has 21 hours of daylight and December has 4. That would twist anyone’s melon.

Iceland Troll Believers aurora
Red and green auroras” by Arctic light Frank Olsen, Norway – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Science fiction is fun but it’s not quite science fact yet. Ananda Bosman, an English fractal cosmologist, gets all David Icke:

Strange phenomena can be explained when we understand that our reality is like one radio station of a plurality of radio stations, or frequencies. Our brain registers less than 0.5 degrees or percent of all emanations that are actually out there. Our life is tuned to one radio station however sometimes there is an interference between other radio stations and our radio station creating strange anomalous phenomena.

Speaking on Iceland’s many Nessy-type sighting; Ananda comes up with a corker:

In Iceland there are tunnel systems which are made of volcanic material which contain super conducting elements that resonate in time and space linking the past the present and the future. It is possible that an aquatic creature, 80 million years ago, in swimming in these tunnel systems would go into a gravitational anomaly and find itself in our time and space. 80 of these gravity anomaly zones have been found on our planet and mapped scientifically at these tectonic juncture points strange phenomena occurs such as UFOs paranormal activity, ghosts, elves, all kinds of strange creatures, phantom boats and monsters.

How dramatic and ridiculous. It’s a fun thought though.

Isn’t all this dusk and breathtaking scenery enough magic? Seems to me these people are just a bit too imagination hungry.

Iceland Troll Believers - Turf House
Grassodenhäuser“. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

My guess? Tourism. Like every other Bigfoot, Roswell, Lochness holiday destination. Reykjavic is home to Elf School. A place tourists pay to go and learn all about Huldufólk culture. I want to go there!

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