From Iceland — More Monsters and Mythical Beings: Meet Skoffin

More Monsters and Mythical Beings: Meet Skoffin

Published September 3, 2008

More Monsters and Mythical Beings: Meet Skoffin
Haukur S. Magnússon
Photo by
Hugleikur Dagsson

Here is where you’ll learn what the offspring of a cat and a fox looks like, and to avoid its deadly gaze at any cost.
n our past and our stories, we’ve got this massive database of monsters and creatures. A lot of their stories are really fascinating, and I think it’s a shame that they’re not used more in modern culture. Many haven’t heard about them,” remarked master comic artist Hugleikur Dagsson in the Grapevine earlier this summer. The subject was his latest graphic novel, Garðarshólmi, in which he depicts many of the aforementioned creatures. This prompted the Grapevine – on a perpetual quest to educate the masses – to draft Dagsson to illustrate a series of articles on these monsters of yore. And for this instalment in the series, you’ll learn the terrible consequences of unprotected fox-on-cat sex: Skoffín.

Icelandic folklore claims that catastrophic events may lead from Iceland’s native land mammal, the arctic fox, breeding with a female cat. Post conception, and a gestation period, the cat will spawn an unholy abomination that can kill you by merely looking your way. This creature is known as a Skoffín, and it is positively evil in every way.

Often referred to as the Basilisk’s Icelandic counterpart, Skoffín seem to have no immediate function sans being super evil and really, really scary. It literally kills you just by looking at you. You don’t get to run, you don’t get to hide. You stumble into its line of sight and its curtains, pal. You are dead. And they talk, too. Say all sorts of wicked, nasty things.

One story goes that a few hundred years ago, when Skoffín were much more rampan, a priest was bidding farewell to his congregation after mass. Strangely enough, every parishioner dropped dead on the church’s doorsteps immediately after exiting. The priest figured that a Skoffín was sitting on the church’s roof beam, so he pushed out a mirror, tricking the Skoffín into killing itself by looking at its own deadly reflection.

There, the priest used one of two known Skoffín-killing ways known to man. And there aren’t any more, the critter is damn near indestructible. Should you encounter a Skoffín on your travels through rural Iceland, try and avert its gaze for as long as possible (assuming you reach it from behind). Showing the Skoffín its reflection is really the only guaranteed way of killing it, but if you left your mirror at home you might try firing silver buttons at it (carving a cross on them really helps). 

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