Monster Of The Month: Sögusteinn - Tale Stone - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Monster Of The Month: Sögusteinn – Tale Stone

Monster Of The Month: Sögusteinn – Tale Stone

Published September 19, 2016

Photo by
Arngrimur Sigurðsson

Several accounts of tale stones exist. Ólafur of Purkey says that it can be found in the nest of the wagtail in May. It is to be kept in a bloody neck scarf and put in your right ear when you wish to learn something from it. It will then tell you everything that you might want to know.

Others describe the stone thus: When the first day of summer arrives during Holy Week, the raven will lay on the eggs on Good Friday. One should approach the nest while mass is being said. When the Passion is recited, the raven will lie on the eggs as if dead, and a stone will fall from its head and into the nest from where it can be retrieved. One should then harden it and carry it on one’s person in a bag. When placed at the root of the tongue, one will be able to understand raven language.

A man who wants to acquire some knowledge is to tie the stone under his right armpit when he goes to bed and wrap his clothes tightly around his body. “Set your mind on that which you want to know before you fall asleep, and remember what you have learned when you awake.”

One stone, grey in colour, can be found in sea foam. When placed in a lake, sediment appears, in which one can see one’s face. “Then ask that which you want answered and be steadfast.”

Source: Jón Árnason, Íslenzkar þjóðsögur og ævintýri I, p. 649-650.

Duldýrasafnið Arngrimur Sigurdsson

Our Monster of the Month comes from the project Duldýrasafnið (“The Museum Of Hidden Beings”) by Arngrimur Sigurðsson. He takes firsthand accounts of creature sightings, like the one above, from Icelandic historical texts, and creates a painting of each one. An English language translation is out now.

Read our interview with the artist here.

See more monsters here.

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