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Contemporary tales

The following stories are true stories and testimonies of friendship or of communications between Icelanders and the elves or the Hidden people here in Iceland, - in modern times.


The hidden people of Álftaver

Two halfsisters, Hallbera Eiríksdóttir and Þóra Brynjólfsdóttir, lived on the farm Hraungerði in Álftaver. They were clairvoyant and claimed to see things invisible to other people; they even said they saw the hidden people.

One New Year's Eve they were alone in the house, as all the others had gone to church at Þykkvabæjarklaustur. The sisters were about to play cards when Þóra suddenly couldn't keep her eyes open and fell asleep. At the same instant Halla heard some beautiful singing. She walked to a window facing west, looked out and spotted a group of people singing on a nearby hill. They looked very dignified and walked slowly past the house at some distance, then continued eastwards past Sjónarhól. They continued their singing during their march until they finally disapperared. Þóra woke up feeling much refreshed after her sleep.

(These sisters were good and trustworthy women.)


The hidden-priest

At the farm Þverdalur in the district of Sléttuhreppur a great rock called Steinshóll stands in the middle of the hayfield. It is forbidden to cut the grass around it or else a great disaster falls upon the people.

Halldór Guðnason was born and bred at this farm. One New Years's Eve, when he was twelve years of age, he was playing with five other children from nearby farms. It was a cloudless, clear night and there had been some snow the night before. It was nearly ten o'clock and the childrens' games had brought them to Steinshóll.

Suddenly one of the children said:
'What are you staring at, Halldór?"

Halldór had stopped playing and watched instead Steinshóll turn into a church blazing with lights. It was the size of an ordinary county church, and a priest, unusually handsome, was walking out of the door. He was wearing a robe woven with golden threads and a shining red cassock reaching down below the knees. The priest was holding something in his hand. He took no notice of the children except for casting a quick glance towards where Halldór stood. Then he stopped in front of the church and lit some fireworks which exploded with spectacular colours high up in the air. When it had gone out he lit another one, and then yet another.

Having done this the priest disappeared.

Watching this, Halldór felt happy and surprised, but the other children didn't see anything out of the ordinary and wondered what Halldór was staring at.

No-one else at Þverdalur or at the three neighbouring farms ever saw this priest.

Halldór's grandfather, Borgar Jónsson, never cut the grass round Steinshóll. When Guðni, Halldór's father, took over the farm his father-in-law, Borgar, warned him against haymaking around the rock. Thinking this was only superstition, Guðni didn't heed the warning and made hay in the area the first three summers, and each summer he lost a sheep in the vicinity of the rock. Then he started to believe that the rock was indeed under a spell, and stopped all haymaking around it. From then on he never lost a sheep.


An angry shout from an elf-house

Near the farm Arnórsstadir on Bardaströnd, a short distance from Brjánslaekur, an eight-year-old girl had a curious experience. At that time this was a farmstead with two households, this girl, Lára Bjarnadóttir, was living with her parents and ten siblings at the lower farmhouse.

In front of the higher farmhouse there stood a great rock, called the Dwarf, which had a rather strange appearance as it really looked like a house built of bricks. It was believed that it was inhabited by elves and fairies. Therefore, the children were always well behaved in its vicinity. Thus, as others did too, they showed a degree of respect for it. Also, they never dared to climb upon it or make any commotion near it. They were a bit afraid of it due to the rumors about it. Many people believed they even saw some light shining from it in the dark.
At this time some of the islands offshore were also inhabited. For example, the inhabitants of Saudey at one time said they saw an unmistakable light emanating from the Dwarf while rowing their boat from the island to the shore.
In front of the lower farmhouse there was also a large and strange rock, somewhat bigger than the Dwarf. No stories had been told of elves or fairies inhabiting it, so it had not been given a name.
The event being told here occurred in the summer of 1937 while little Lára was playing near the larger rock which had never been associated with any fairies. At one time she had climbed upon the rock and was skipping around and enjoying herself. Then, all of a sudden, she heard an angry female voice calling to there from the rock right beneath her feet: "If you do not come down from the rock at once, you will be punished.!" This frightened the little girl so much that she jumped at once down from the rock and ran directly to her home. Several children had been playing in the vicinity, among them Adalsteinn, her elder brother. They had not witnessed any grown person near this peculiar stone.
The girl had no idea that anybody would be living in this rock, and therefore she had dared to climb on top of it. It is out of the question that the other children had been teasing her, or trying to deceive her, as the voice coming from beneath her feet was very definitely a strong female voice. Anyway, no grown woman had been near the rock who could have shouted to her in this manner.

Little Lára said that she had she had never been so frightened in her life, as this had come as a big surprise to her. No other stories that have been told of any other confrontation between humans and fairies concerning this rock, and this tale lived for a long time in the memory of the people living there.

(This girl, Lára Bjarnadóttir, was born on the 24th of August 1929. She related this tale to Magnús Skarphédinsson, the Director of the Elfschool and the Elfmuseum, (Álfasafnið), during a telephone call in the year 2003, still being very spry and clearly thinking. She recalled every part of the story very well. Lára is still living in spring 2013, 83 years of age and is currently living in Reykjavík. She is now a widow, both of her parents being descended form the Western Fjords of Iceland. Her account, along with other such accounts, are held for safekeeping in the Sound Recording Library of the Elfschool and the Elfmuseum).


The elf in the Black Forest in Germany

In late summer 2002 a 34-year-old German named Hartmut Schulze had an interesting experience while taking a Sunday drive with his girlfriend and an acquaintance of his in Germarny. Around five o'clock in the afternoon they were on their way home to the village Mitteltal where they are living in the vicinity in Southern Germany, in and near the Black Forest. The incident occurred a short distance to the east of this peaceful village where industry and lumber processing are the main occupations.
All of a sudden, out of the window of his car, Mr Schulze clearly saw an elf sitting on a pile of newly sawed wood by the wayside. This woodpile was about five feet high and the elf was resting on top of it, like he was enjoying a sunbath, leisurely smoking his pipe.
The car in which Mr Schulze was travelling was moving rather slowly so he was able to study the elf clearly for a while. He was wearing brown clothes with a hat on his head.
While the car was passing the pile of wood the elf noticed that the human was watching him, which is rather rare,. This seemed to surprise him and also make him very happy. So he sprang to his feet and jumped for joy when he realized that he was able to confront a human being for a moment. He started running beside the car, which was moving rather slowly, while facing this strange being who had obviously also seen him. However, the elf only succeeded for a while keeping up with the car on the run. Mr Schulze got the impression that it was like the elf would like to know something more about him, or possibly to try to communicate with him.
But obviously the car moved away from this good-natured elf rather slowly and left him standing there staring after these strange travelers.
Mr Schulze's girlfriend also saw this tiny guest there in the forest. Clearly this was his home and he seemed to be observing the traffic, obviously knowing that most likely few human could see him or be aware of his presence there.
This elf, two feet in height, glared at the moving car while trying to observe this strange person who had obviously seen him.
It should be noted that this German gentleman has some psychic powers to see such beings. Since then he has had a similar experience, both in Germany and Denmark, and also in Iceland while was visiting the country in spring 2003.

(This tale was narrated to Magnús Skarphédinsson who taped the interview at The Elfschool in Reykjavík on 11th May 2003.)


Elves setting out bedsheets and other laundry for drying

Early in the 20th century, on the farm Selá at Árskógsströnd in Eyjafjördur (in north Iceland, close from Akureyri), there lived the artist Björg Arngrímsdóttir and her husband Jóhann Sigurdsson. One of their children, a daughter named Nanna, was born in 1921. Nanna's agemate and friend was also living there, Karólína Hallgrímsdóttir of Siglufjördur, who was working as a farmhand there during the summers of 1932 and 1933.
In late 1932 or 1933 these two female friends went berry picking. In the eastern part of Svarfadardalur valley, above and to the west of Staerri Ásrskógskirkja, they then found two bedsheets spread out far from any built-up area. Those were very ordinary bedsheets which had been weighted down with rocks in all four corners, and the one in the middle to prevent them from being blown away. This was on a sunny day, excellent for drying out such things.
Karólína was of course surprised to see those bedsheets there spread out far from any built-up area, and asked Nanna whether she also saw the bedsheets. Nanna admitted that she did and that she had witnessed such things previously, as this was just the laundry of the elves that were living there. Then the girls went up a bit higher on the slope and picked their berries for a while.
Somewhat later, when the girls were returning to their home, taking the same route, they noticed that the bedsheets had disappeared from the spot where they had been spread out for drying. Karólína was surprised and asked her friend how this could be. Nanna said it was simple, the bedsheets had become dry and therefore the elves had gathered them and taken them to their home which seemed quite natural, which it possibly was.
Karólína said she never witnessed anything else like this during her long life. She remembered this incident very clearly.


An elf-lady provides coffee for the assistance at childbirth

The wife of the artist Arngrímur Jónsson, Thórunn Hjörleifsdóttir, was both a midwife and a homeopath. She was very experienced and knowledgeable in the use of herbal medicines for fighting the diseases of both humans and animals, along with advice for her needy neighbors and others.
At one time it occurred that elves sought her assistance, asking her to assist a lady elf who was experiencing some difficulties in giving birth. This went so well that they became good friends from then on, Thórunn and the lady elf.

Sometime later, when Thórunn intended to brew herself some coffee, she realized that her coffee box was empty. So instead of making coffee she lay down to rest. Then, in her dream, she met her female friend from the elf world during which her lack of coffee powder came up.
Nothing is known about what was exactly said, but when Thórunn awoke after having this dream all of a sudden her coffee box had become full of the finest type of coffee. Most likely this did not surprise her, this simply resulting from their conversation and her assistance rendered to the lady elf some time ago. From then on Thórunn met this elf lady, her friend, a number of times, possibly only meeting her in her dreams.

(The last two stories are from Karolína Fridrikka Hallgrímsdóttir. She related this to Magnus, the recorder of this account, who taped it in summer 2003 when she was 82 years of age. Karólína was a very lucid woman, recalling these events very clearly. She passed away in 2012 at the age of 91.
This account of the lady elf's help in providing the coffee was related to her by her young and best friend Nanna. This event occurred at the home of Nanna's mother, Björg Arngrímsdóttir, Thórunn and the painter Arngrímur's daughter. Nanna died in her twenties. She though gave birth to two sons in this life, one of them reaching adulthood.)