Upside-Down Rakes And White Sheep: A Sampling Of Icelandic Weather Superstitions - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Upside-Down Rakes And White Sheep: A Sampling Of Icelandic Weather Superstitions

Upside-Down Rakes And White Sheep: A Sampling Of Icelandic Weather Superstitions

Published July 8, 2019

Andie Fontaine
Photo by
GAS

It’s long been established that if there’s one sure-fire way to start a conversation in Iceland, all you need do is say “how about this weather?” The weather is seriously important in this country, deeply embedded in a culture dependent on fishing and agriculture for most of its history, so its unsurprising that there are so many superstitions about the weather in Iceland. Some of them are of foreign origin, some of them are homegrown, but they are all very much a part of the Icelandic pantheon of superstitions.

What dreams may come

The main concern almost all of these superstitions is foul weather, both how to predict it and how to avoid it. As on so many other occasions, dreams are used in this case for divination.

For example, if you dream of white sheep, snow can be expected to come soon. In another superstition, most common amongst fishermen, there is the occasion of being visited by the dead in one’s dream. A passed-on relative might warn you of an upcoming storm or, less precisely, if the departed is angry or otherwise agitated, stormy weather is then definitely on the way and it would be a bad idea to go to sea.

Mind your rake

While science has yet to devise a way to dependably and accurately control the weather (unless you count cloud seeding, which really just hastens the inevitable), superstitions have long imbued people with the power to drastically alter the weather in the most innocuous ways.

One of the most common and persistent weather superstitions of this nature involves the common rake. It is inadvisable to leave a rake in the yard with the prongs pointed skywards, and not just because you could induce some Sideshow Bob hilarity—you could also literally make it rain. Which is pretty rude in a country that already gets its fair share.

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