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  • It's kind of unimaginable not believing in them.

  • My grandmother had an elf friend in a rock.

  • The elves come to me in my dreams.

  • I'm convinced elves do exist.

  • I'm professor of Folkloristics at the University of Iceland.

  • One of the areas of research that I've been working on

  • is so-called 'elves' orlfar',

  • along with 'huldufólk', 'the hidden ones',

  • that Icelanders are so interested in.

  • I can picture some kind of idea of a hidden person,

  • kind of looks like a human.

  • They have a little bit old-fashioned clothing.

  • They have their own society here, emotions and feelings.

  • They are born, grow old, and die.

  • I think they live in rocks.

  • They can show themselves if they choose to, but rarely do.

  • But you never know when it will happen.

  • You have maybe 10% say that they don't believe,

  • and then those that do believe is again about 10%.

  • But in between you have all of the rest, who are 'maybe', 'possibly',

  • 'probably', 'who knows'.

  • INTERVIEWER: So if I asked you then if you think literally

  • that they exist?

  • We can't say no. Yeah, you can't say no.

  • They will come haunt us.

  • It's not that they believe,

  • they are worried that there might be something there

  • when it comes down to it, that you're not going to mess with.

  • My name istur Matthíasson

  • and I'm Head of Communication with the Icelandic Road Administration.

  • So this is the rock that we moved, from the place where the road is,

  • and we moved it over here.

  • People thought that this might be an elf church,

  • and these people asked us if we could maybe move the rock.

  • We will look into it. Not because we believe so much in elves

  • at the Road Administration,

  • we look at is as part of our cultural inheritance.

  • We know that people in the Viking times were buried in mounds

  • which showed above the earth.

  • As each generation goes by,

  • the living memory of the people within the ground,

  • turns into a much more hazy idea,

  • about beings that live out of sight.

  • The nature of Iceland makes you feel really strong emotions.

  • A nation where your house can be destroyed by something you can't see.

  • We naturally try to explain these things by means of

  • personifying the environment.

  • And everyone is surrounded by nature, you see the mountains,

  • you see the ocean, everywhere.

  • The belief started because of this strong connection that we still have.

  • I think there is a pressure from the society as a whole,

  • that we are the people who believe in elves

  • and we should tell everybody that.

  • Because we have been trying to get more tourists for a long time.

  • I think a lot of people will say they believe in elves,

  • but in heart, they don't.

  • If we couldn't have moved it, we would have smashed it down.

  • It's just a rock.

  • Whether you believe it or not, these stories about the elves

  • and these creatures, they teach us to respect nature.

  • And the elves here are,

  • for the most part I think, respected.

  • Should the law consider the huldufólk?

  • Maybe not, but I think maybe the law should try to consider

  • what rights the nature can have,

  • because it doesn't really have a voice.

  • Even though it's quite outdated,

  • maybe the huldufólk is giving nature a voice.

  • There are people coming from countries

  • who've in a sense lost this connection, this magic.

  • In Iceland you can talk about the elves and these other worlds

  • to everybody and people will not lock you up.

  • It makes Iceland different and they like being different

  • to other nations, in all ways.

  • We want it to be like this.

  • It would be a nicer place to live if there were hidden people there.

  • Don 't you think?

  • Thanks for watching. Don't forget to subscribe! :)

It's kind of unimaginable not believing in them.

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Iceland's magical world of elves | BBC Ideas

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    Summer posted on 2020/04/23
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