Laura Bisgaard Krogh

The hidden people, 2018

More than half of the Icelandic people believe, that there are two civilizations on the isolated island of cliffs in the north: The Icelanders and a magical people, who lives among them. They are called The Hidden People – and are hiding in the cliffs and rocks. Only few Icelanders have a connection to their world but many will go far to protect them and the stones they live in.

Ragnar Johansson was 12 years old when he met The Hidden the first time. By a waterfall behind his family farm, he tried to push a stone in the river. A voice rang out from the depths of the mountain. A call from The Hidden to leave their home alone.

The water fall behind Ragnar’s farm. He knew of the stories about the people but never expected to meet them in real life. When he told his parents they warned him to never challenge the people again.

“What is most important to me, is to leave no trace behind in nature. When I was a kid I would retreat into the cliffs to find hiding places. Back then my grandmother told me about The Hidden People and how to respect them. The Hidden People explain the things that happen in our family. If you loose something it’s The Hidden People. And if you find it again they brought it back to you.” - Jon Oskar Arrason.

“As a child I played among the lava stones, and when I was alone I would wait for The Hidden People to appear. If a child acted in a weird way the adults would say, that it was probably one of the Hidden who had gotten to him. Today I go to the lava fields with my friends. Here we find peace and a distance from the rest of the world.” – Kári Hrafn.

Few Icelandic people have the ability to communicate with the hidden world. Thorbjorg Jonsdottir possesses this rare and respected gift. Her kind, Seers, serve as mediums between our world and the other world.

When a road in the lava fields southwest of Reykjavík had to be build, the tractor broke down each time it came close to a rock inhabited by The Hidden People. Usually the roads are build around the rocks or they are moved to a safe location. They are everywhere. Wedged between the houses in the city or in the public swimming pool. One stone even got its own name and house number.

“It is simply not possible that trolls and giants exist. But everyone knows that The Hidden People exists. My grandmother told me stories about them. They live here in our neighborhood too, you know – In all of the rocks.” Oliver, 8 years old.

“One summer my uncle tried to remove a hill known to be the Hidden’s territory. The tractor fell and broke his chest. He died three days later. It was a common truth in my family that it was the revenge of the Hidden People.” - Ingibjörg Ingadottir.

Iceland is known as the land of ice and fire, with good reason. Snæfellsness Peninsula is a volcano with a gletcher on top. Warm springs stream out of the ground and melts fields of ice.

According to Terry Gunnell, a professor of folklore in the University of Iceland, the Icelandic people grew up with two different belief systems, who coexist without surpassing each other: Christianity and the belief in the Hidden People. According to a nationwide screening made at the university more than half of the Icelandic people believe in Huldufólk. “The belief springs from the Icelanders close relationship with nature. They fear it and respect it,” Terry explains.

In a small suburban area of Hafnarfjordur lies “Little Rock”. Here a family of The Hidden live - A mother and her two children. In the house next to Aslaug lives with her family. She is a firm believer. Every winter they put out a bowl of cream for the Hidden family.

"Sometimes I drive to the outskirts of town. Everything is pitch black. And then – the sky explodes in pink color. When I look at the northern lights, I understand why most Icelanders believe in magic. The night sky is alive.” – María Ellen.

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