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Monsters And Mythical Beings X: The Hidden People

Monsters And Mythical Beings X: The Hidden People

Photos by
Hugleikur Dagsson

Published January 12, 2009

This tenth instalment in our illustrated series of Iceland’s monsters and mythical beings revolves around huldufólk, the Hidden People. Actually, the majority of Icelanders will refute claims that huldufólk are a mythical construct, calmly proclaiming belief in the species. Icelandic construction projects and roadwork are often altered to prevent damaging areas where they are thought to reside. If they do indeed exist and you’ve met them, or if you’re an actual huldufólk person who happens to be reading this, please contact us at grapevine@grapevine.is – we would love interviewing you.

Huldufólk often get lumped in with – what most sources claim to be – an altogether different species; the álfar (or “Elves”). Those in the know say that huldufólk share most of their traits with us humans; looks, language and culinary tradition, while álfar are an altogether different bunch; smaller and quirkier, humanoid but not properly human.

Huldufólk set themselves apart from Homo sapiens by being invisible (unless they want you to notice them) and by inhabiting cliffs and rocks rather than apartments or condos. The origins of huldufólk are hitherto undetermined, although there are claims that their existence can be traced back to Adam and Eve, that they are in fact the offspring of Eve’s unwashed children. The story goes that God wanted to pay the lovely couple a visit and Eve, worried that He might judge her, ordered some of the messier ones out of sight. God gave the first crop of new humans He met a vigorous thumbs-up, but when he asked Eve if she had any more laying around she lied she didn’t. The all-knowing deity was angered by her deceit, so He declared “What man hides from God, God will hide from man.”

Huldufólk are said to have co-existed with human Icelanders for as long as they’ve populated the rocky island. Icelandic folklore is ripe with tales of humans interacting with huldufólk. They are as varied as they are many, with most of them depicting huldufólk as kind and helpful folk that are often curious about humans and are even prone to seek out their companionship. There are anecdotes from this very century of huldufólk assisting people in danger, there are tales of huldufólk men seeking help from humans when their wives have trouble giving birth. Hell, there are even graphic descriptions of inter-species huldufólk-on-humanoid intercourse out there (those fortunate-slash-crazy enough to have participated in such shenanigans describe them as “mind blowing”).


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