The Mythical Aurora

The Icelanders of yore were quite the superstitious bunch. They believed in ghosts and spirits, elves, trolls and even sea monsters and while the modern Icelander may not be as susceptible to myths and legends, roads are still being built in loops around known elf-rocks, just in case.


Picture by Sævar Helgi Bragason

The inspiration behind the mythical tales is mostly derived from nature; scary creatures lurk in the long winter shadows, the rosy skies of summer give the land a magical hue and the colorful dance of the Northern Lights pushes the mind to search for meaning.


Another Icelandic myth claims that if a woman looks at the Aurora or twinkling stars during pregnancy, her child will be cross-eyed.

According to Norse Mythology, the Aurora Borealis was light reflecting off the shields of the Valkyries leading their chosen warriors to Óðinn, the god of wisdom and war. The original settlers in Iceland worshipped the Norse gods and believed there was no higher honor than to die in battle and take their place in Valhalla where they could eat, drink and fight until the final war: Ragnarök.


Another Icelandic myth claims that if a woman looks at the Aurora or twinkling stars during pregnancy, her child will be cross-eyed. It was also believed however, that seeing the Northern Lights during labor could ease the pain of childbirth.


The veil of lights was also thought to predict the weather: if it is filled with color and movement there’s a storm brewing but if the lights are still, the weather will be too. When they are visible during late winter, there is yet more snow to come.


The most typical colors of the Aurora are green and yellow but should they turn red, beware, for in Icelandic folklore red Aurora is a sign of impending unrest – a time you would want to stay away from any sword wielding Vikings.