Few Icelandic cultural constructs have undergone as much change as the Völvuspá. Which stands to reason, given that it’s a concept that’s been around since at least the 10th century. While Icelandic might have changed very little over this period of time, what a Völvuspá is has changed so much that today’s version is essentially a completely different thing today from what it was in the Settlement Period. The original Völuspá is the first poem of the Poetic Edda. Its name can be loosely translated as “the prediction of the seeress,” and is for very good reason probably the most popular poem in the Poetic Eddas. In it, an unnamed seeress reveals how the world came into being, and how the pantheon of the Icelandic deities were formed. Things take a dark turn later on, as she predicts how the twilight of the gods—Ragnarök—will come into being.
Pretty heavy stuff, to be sure, but today’s Völvuspá is anything but. As each year draws to a close, various media outlets will release their own Völvuspá, wherein a usually unnamed author makes predictions about what major events will come to pass in the year to come. While no one seems to take them very seriously, they are nonetheless very popular. You can think of today’s Völvuspá as pop astrology: entertainment that no one seems to believe in yet everyone pays attention to. The phenomenon of the modern Völvuspá is a true Icelandic superstition.
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