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Forget the somewhat creepy and definitely over-done Elf on the Shelf.

In Iceland, ‘hidden folk’ elves have been living throughout the Nordic country’s wilderness since Viking times — and they’ve got respect. So much so that a 2007 study by the University of Iceland found that 62 per cent of respondents thought that elf existence was “at least possible”.

Now ‘elf advocates’ and environmentalists  have organized to stop a highway project from the Alftanes peninsula, to the Reykjavik suburb of Gardabaer, claiming the development would not only harm the environment, but disturb an elf habitat and church. For now, the project is on hold, waiting a supreme court decision.

It’s not the first time elf lore has stopped development in Iceland. Hidden World Walks, which gives tours in “one of Iceland’s largest colonies of elves, dwarves and other spiritual beings” claims that elves can only be seen by people with the second sight, but:

“In several places, where new roads or housing developments have been built, and workers attempted to move certain boulders or rocky formations, their equipment strangely malfunctioned or even broke down, not just once, but time and again. This happened without any real explanation, and rather than experience expensive repairs, these rocks have repeatedly been left alone and roads made to curve around them, and building plans have been changed.”

elf homes in Iceland

PHOTO: SLATE

Why elves? Folklore professor Terry Gunnell told The Associated Press:

“This is a land where your house can be destroyed by something you can’t see (earthquakes), where the wind can knock you off your feet, where the smell of sulfur from your taps tells you there is invisible fire not far below your feet, where the northern lights make the sky the biggest television screen in the world, and where hot springs and glaciers ‘talk’. …  Everyone is aware that the land is alive, and one can say that the stories of hidden people and the need to work carefully with them reflects an understanding that the land demands respect.”     

Here’s what National Geographic has to say about it:  

Source: The Associated Press

 

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