Icelandic Elf School

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Coordinates: 64°7′57.54″N 21°52′32.58″W / 64.1326500°N 21.8757167°W / 64.1326500; -21.8757167

The Icelandic Elf School, known as Álfaskólinn in Icelandic, is a school in Iceland that teaches students and visitors about Icelandic folklore.

The school teaches about the hidden people and the 13 different kinds of elves that the school believes inhabit the country of Iceland.[1] According to the school's headmaster, hidden people "are just the same size and look exactly like human beings, the only difference is that they are invisible to most of us. Elves, on the other hand, aren’t entirely human, they’re humanoid, starting at around eight centimetres."[2] He also claims there are gay and lesbian elves.[3] The school is located in Reykjavík, the country's largest city.

The school is headed by Magnús Skarphéðinsson. Magnús has a full curriculum, and certificate programs for visitors that can be earned in as little as half a day. However, the school also publishes texts on hidden people, partly for its own use in the classroom. There is also ongoing research on the elves and hidden people of Iceland.[4] He also collects stories about trolls, fairies, dwarves, and gnomes, but says that "nearly 70 percent of our stories are about hidden people, because they are most seen here."[5] These stories have been collected for the purpose of preservation.[6] Magnús organizes five hour long educational excursions for visitors, and finishes the tour with coffee and pancakes at the school.[7] Despite never advertising his school, Magnus typically gets 5–10 people per excursion.[8] Since opening in 1991, over 9,000 people, most of them foreigners, have attended the school.[9] The Álfaskólinn also provides "aura readings" and "past-life explorations".[10]

The question of the "level of belief in elves" in Iceland is somewhat of a cultural topos, with survey results published in 1975, 1995, 1998, 2006. Interpretations of the survey results vary. Based on the 2006 figures, Magnús claims that while only 26% of Icelanders believe in elves (summing the responses 'certain' and 'probable'), 80% "do take notice" (including the replies 'possible' and 'unlikely').[11]


  1. ^ "VIDEO: Belief in Elves Strong in Iceland". National Geographic News. 2008-12-11. Retrieved 2009-05-30.
  2. ^ Vincenz, Marc (2009-05-27). "To Be or Not to Be; Álfar, Elves, Huldufólk, Fairies and Dwarves: Are They Really All the Same Thing?". The Reykjavík Grapevine. Archived from the original on 2010-04-04. Retrieved 2009-06-14.
  3. ^ Frömming, Undine (2005). "Schwule Elfen". Fucking Different (in German and English). Kristian Petersen Filmproduktion. Archived from the original on 2011-07-19. Retrieved 2010-12-11.
  4. ^ McArthur, Douglas (1996-03-13). "Elfschool tries to make a believer out of everyone". The Globe and Mail (Canada).
  5. ^ Gruber, Barbara (June 2007). "Iceland: Searching For Elves And Hidden People". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 2009-10-31.
  6. ^ Heijnen, Adriënne (2005). "Dreams, Darkness and Hidden Spheres : Exploring the Anthropology of the Night in Icelandic Society". Paideuma: Mitteilungen zur Kulturkunde. 51: 203. Retrieved 2010-02-11.
  7. ^ "Ferðast um huliðsheima". Morgunblaðið (in Icelandic). 1997-06-15. Retrieved 2009-05-30.
  8. ^ "Alfar og huldufólk flutt út". Alþýðublaðið (in Icelandic). 1997-07-09. p. 1. Retrieved 2009-06-07.
  9. ^ Honoré, Carl (2005-07-01). "The Hidden Beings Of Iceland". American Way. Archived from the original on 2009-02-20. Retrieved 2009-06-14.
  10. ^ Rakoff, David (2002). Fraud: Essays. New York, NY: Broadway Books. p. 85. ISBN 978-0-7679-0631-9.
  11. ^ Johnson, Gillian (1996-07-26). "Looking for the hidden folk". Lögberg-Heimskringla. p. 3. Retrieved 2009-06-14.

Further reading[edit]

  • Rakoff, David, Fraud: Essays (Broadway Books: 2002) pp. 85 ff.
  • Baldacchino, Godfrey, Extreme Tourism: Lessons from the World's Cold Water Islands (Elsevier Science: 2006) pp. 121–122
  • Sullivan, Paul, Waking Up in Iceland (Sanctuary Publishing: 2003) p. 117
  • Baedeker: Iceland, (Mairs Geographischer Verlag: 2009) p. 246
  • Packard, Mary, Ripley's Believe It or Not!: Strange School Stories (Scholastic: 2010)

See also[edit]

External links[edit]