Monster Of The Month: Skuggabaldur - Shadow Baldur - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Monster Of The Month: Skuggabaldur – Shadow Baldur

Monster Of The Month: Skuggabaldur – Shadow Baldur

Published April 27, 2017

Photos by
Arngrimur Sigurðsson

A skuggabaldur has a cat for a father and a fox for a mother. They are no less a menace than foxes or other beasts that sorcerers send to kill the livestock of others. Guns are of no use against them. One time, a skuggabaldur who had done much harm to sheep in the county of Húnavatnssýsla was cornered in a hole and killed by a flock of men. As it was stabbed, the skuggabaldur uttered: “Tell the cat at Bollastaðir that skuggabaldur was stabbed today in the ravine.” Those present found this highly peculiar. Later that day, the man who killed the skuggabaldur came to Bollastaðir to stay the night there. That evening, he recounted the tale as he lay on his bed. An old tomcat sat on a crossbeam. But when the man recited the words spoken by the skuggabaldur, the cat leaped on him and fastened its claws and teeth into his neck. The cat could not be removed until its head had been cut off, but by then the man was dead.

Jón Árnason, Íslenzkar þjóðsögur og ævintýri I, p. 610.

Our Monster of the Month comes from the project Duldýrasafnið (“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. You can buy the English language book in our store and read our interview with the artist here.

See more monsters here.

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