The Time Before Is Again: An Icelandic mystery-horror (Blog 18) Dan Watt and Gunnhildur Gudbjornsdottir  (the Icelandic translation may take longer)

The Time Before Is Again: An Icelandic mystery-horror (Blog 18) Dan Watt and Gunnhildur Gudbjornsdottir  (the Icelandic translation may take longer)

The Gullskinna (Goldskin) “the book that could not be burned” is a grimoire of staves no one but Jochum Magnús Eggertsson (b. 1896 d. 1966) has ever seen.  Jochum wrote under the pseudonym Skuggi (Shadow), his most famous work being the Galdraskræða (Sorcerer’s Screed).

As they talk to the professor her father’s cellphone ringtone to the tune of Björgvin Halldórsson’s “Don’t Walk Away Renee” comes on.  Brynnhildur knows that means her mother is calling.

“Ástin mín,” her father says with a loving tone.  She keeps quiet while he listens to her mother.  “Professor Pétursson’s,” he says after a few moments.  “I think so.”  Turning to the professor her father asks, “Can I leave Brynn with you?  I must get back.  Andrea says the hudafolk think they know where some of the children are.  But she can’t see the folk so I need to be there.”  Looking at Brynnhildur he asks, “Are you okay to go with the professor Bryn?  Your mother and I will join you as soon as possible.”

“Yes,” she replies torn between fear and excitement.

She watches as her father, still talking to her mother on his phone, leaves.

“We have to go to Lagarfljót now where the worm is?” she asks the professor.

“No, Galdra would not have gone that far.  As I said there is more than one.  Others are like the Hudofolk, they make strange waves in the water that baffles sailors and fishermen but are otherwise invisible to most eyes.  You and I will go to Hofsós and see if we can contact the Hofsóssormur.”

“How?” she asks.  Her head hurts from trying to comprehend invisible giant seaworms.  She sees Professor   Pétursson pull out a gold coloured book that looks like it is made from some kind of skin.  “What is that?”

“Gullskinna,” he replies as he diligently opens the book.  He flips through the skin pages with their staves that appear to be drawn in blood.  “Yes,” she hears him say to himself.  He pokes a stave.  “When we get to Hofsós I will need to draw this symbol in the sand at low tide.  When the tide comes back in it will wash the message to the Hofsóssormur.”

Brynnhildur looks at the size of the professor and wonders what type of truck he drives.  He scoops up the Gullskinna and the other grimoires and two motorcycle helmets.  She follows him through the Univerisity to the outside parking lot.

“No,” she says, her eyes lighting up.  She has never been on a motorcycle and this one has a sidecar.  Its ruby red paint glitters.

“It’s an electrically powered Triumph Rocket Three.  I asked for a sidecar so I could carry supplies for overnight field trips.”

As she adjusts the helmet straps she warns, “Don’t let my father know you took me on a motorcycle.”

“Oh, what about your mother?”

“She would be jealous.”

The Time Before Is Again: An Icelandic mystery-horror (Blog 17) Dan Watt and Gunnhildur Gudbjornsdottir  (the Icelandic translation may take longer)

The Time Before Is Again: An Icelandic mystery-horror (Blog 17) Dan Watt and Gunnhildur Gudbjornsdottir  (the Icelandic translation may take longer)

This is a fascinating website:

The Museum of Icelandic Witchcraft and Sorcery at Hólmavík in the Westfjords of Iceland

By Regína Hrönn Ragnarsdóttir

If you go I don’t think you’re allowed to try on the necropants!


“Real or not the Lagarfljótsormur is fascinating but that is all,” Brynnihildur tells the professor with a shrug.

Professor Pétursson’s blue eye flashes brighter for a moment.  “We need to ask the the Lagarfljótsormur to find the bones of Galdra Loftur.”

Brynnihildur shivers.  She sees her father’s jaw drop in shock.  Gulping before speaking her father says, “But Galdra Loftur studied the dark arts, here, at the university.  He nearly gained access to Rauðskinna but Gottskálk grimmi Nikulasson refused to give it to him and Galdra went mad.”

“And was pulled into the sea by a hairy hand,” the professor adds.  “He is the only one who knows where Gottskálk grimmi Nikulasson and the red book are buried.”

“You want to speak to a spirit?” Brynnhildur asks.  She is very confused with what is going on here.  She wants to believe and after meeting Skessuhorn anything is possible.  But imaginary creatures and speaking to the dead are just too farfetched.

“I am one of the few remaining seið-menn Brynn,” the professor tells her.  “But at some point I will become invisible as the Hudofolk are and turn to stone as lesser ogres and trolls do.”  His voice sounds tired and sad.  “So much to do in so little time,” he continues with a toothy grin.

“Well, we too have little time,” she says.  “We must get back to the farm and also check on my mother.”

“Then let me go over some staves I have made.”  The professor opens the top drawer of his desk and pulls out two scrolls of black paper.  He opens one and Brynnhildur sees the intricate drawing of a capital E and a cross with added details.  “This is the Lukkustafir stave that will protect you from evil on land and sea.”  He unrolls the second scroll and Brynnhildur sees tree symbols from top to bottom.  The top is in the shape of an hourglass within a rectangle, below that is an X with circles at each end; next a straight line with circles at either end, and last another X.  All the symbols are connected by a vertical line.  “This is the Stafur til að vekja upp draug stave.  I will use this scroll after we have retrieved the bones of Galdra.”


The Time Before Is Again: An Icelandic mystery-horror (Blog 16) Dan Watt and Gunnhildur Gudbjornsdottir  (the Icelandic translation may take longer)

The Time Before Is Again: An Icelandic mystery-horror (Blog 16) Dan Watt and Gunnhildur Gudbjornsdottir  (the Icelandic translation may take longer)

Lagarfljót Lake is on the eastern side of Iceland.  It connects to the Jökulsá á Brú (river) that begins in the northern part of Iceland where it connects to the Norwegian Sea.  Lagarfljót is home to the Lagarfljót worm, a giant creature similar to Nessie of Loch Ness.


“This place has a long history,” her father says as they drive up to the long white building with its red peaked roof and six dormer windows.  “It started as the Hólar Agricultural College back in 1106.”

Inside the university Brynnhildur gazes at a plaque with the names of the different departments and professors.  She sees Professor Aron Pétursson’s name under Aquatic Biology.  “How is Professor Pétursson going to help us; he studies marine life?”

“As a job,” is all the reply she gets from her father as he leads her down a corridor.

Her father raps on the door to Professor Pétursson’s office.  When the door opens Brynnhildur gasps!

Brynnhildur blinks her eyes rapidly.  The professor is a very tall, broad shouldered man, with one completely evergreen eye and one completely arctic blue.  His auburn hair is thick and unruly on top.  He is wearing dark blue suit and a pale blue shirt.  She unintentionally presses her face closer to him, and he shimmers.

“You can see me,” he says with a booming voice.

“Sort of,” she replies.

“Come in.”

Inside she sees posters of fin whales, mink whales, and one long painting of the giant blue whale.  There are also charts of the Icelandic fish.  She recognizes the basking shark, the rabbit fish, the birdbeak dogfish, and numerous others.  Then she notices a painting of a creature she has only seen in fairytale books, Lagarfljótsormur, the water worm that many compare to Nesse, the Lochness monster.  “Why do you have a painting of the fictious Lagarfljót worm?”

The thick curly eyebrows of his left eye, the evergreen one, arch in a quizzical fashion.  “Because they’re real.”

The Time Before Is Again: An Icelandic mystery-horror (Blog 15) Dan Watt and Gunnhildur Gudbjornsdottir  (the Icelandic translation may take longer)

The Time Before Is Again: An Icelandic mystery-horror (Blog 15) Dan Watt and Gunnhildur Gudbjornsdottir  (the Icelandic translation may take longer)

Using geothermal energy Iceland can grow bananas, tomatoes, and other fruits and vegetables.  At the  Fridheimar restaurant you can even order tomato beer.


Brynnhildur stares out the front passenger window of her father’s truck as they continue down Highway One towards Hólar University College.  She sees the free standing modern buildings intermingled with the older farmhouses built into hills.  She often sees a free standing boulder in an open field.  Too many of the boulders appear to be sitting giants made of stone.  She rubs her eyes and wonders how tired and shaken up she is from the strangeness of the last few months.  Like seeing shapes in clouds she seeing things in rocks that aren’t there.

As they drive through Varmahlíð Village she gazes at all the greenhouses powered by geothermal energy.  On one of her school trips they were brought inside the greenhouses.  Brynnhildur was amazed at the sight of bananas and other tropical fruit growing inside.  Many of the fields they pass have short but stout Icelandic horses grazing on rye and barley as their double coats protect them from the often harsh weather.   Here her father turns onto Highway 75 and they head north.

She sees the wide peak of Hólabyrða mountain and knows they have entered Hjaltadalur valley.

“I need you to be,” her father says in a clipped voice as they head towards the university.  “To understand that Professor Aron Pétursson is, unique.”

“How is that?” Brynnhildur asked.  After meeting Skessuhorn she didn’t think anything would surpise her.

“You’ll see,” is all he says.


The Time Before Is Again: An Icelandic mystery-horror (Blog 14) Dan Watt and Gunnhildur Gudbjornsdottir  (the Icelandic translation may take longer)

The Time Before Is Again: An Icelandic mystery-horror (Blog 14) Dan Watt and Gunnhildur Gudbjornsdottir  (the Icelandic translation may take longer)

Borgarnes is a town on a peninsula in West Iceland.  The Borgarnes Museum is one of the buildings in the Settlement Centre and has a winding wall of photographs that tells Iceland’s history.  There is also a display of Icelandic birds by Snorri Freyr.


As her father drives over the Vesturlandsvegur bridge that crosses the Faxa Bay to the promontory of Borgarnes, Brynnhildur stares with wonder at the sea water dotted with battery and wind powered boats.  This is one of the first areas that humans settled Iceland.

Her father pulls off of Highway One beside a two storey house made of foreign looking wood and vinyl siding.  Near the house is giant boulder that has been sheered in half by machinery.  Brynnhildur lets out a gasp as she sees her father’s face turn grey with disbelief.  “We need to make a pit stop at the museum,” her father says with a shaky voice as he clenches the steering wheel so hard his hands turn white.

“Are you well?”  Brynnhildur asks.

“Not now.”  Her father shakes his head as though to wake up.  “There is a reason Huddofolk live in certain areas and why those areas are to remain sacred and unmolested.  We must stop wounding the Earth.”

She stays silent as he speeds away from the foreign house towards the museum.

Years ago she went to museum on a school trip to learn about Iceland’s history.  The building is still brick red with dark grey edging.  MUSEUM is written across the front beside the glass entrance that juts out.  Inside is the green carpet that winds around the curving walls of pictures.  There are a few adults explaining the history of some of the pictures to their children.

Her father leads her up a staircase to the second storey.  They step into a white walled room full of famous paintings.  She watches her father from the centre of the room as he gazes at paintings of sacred areas of Iceland.  His finger traces one of the paintings of an ancient church made of stone and mortar.

“Where is that?” she asks with a gulp, afraid to interrupt his intense concentration.

“It’s the oldest known church on the Isand,” he replies.  She sees his eyes squint at the caption.

“Why is it important?”

“Eðvald believes Gottskalk Nikulausson and Rauðskinna might be buried there.”

“So let’s go there!”

“It doesn’t say where it is.”  She sees him rub his forehead and pats his shoulder.

“Did you check the library or the Internet?”

“Yes, but the information is no longer available.”

“We’ll solve this problem,” she assures him.

“Your uncle Búi and your cousins cannot take care of our farm and theirs for very long Brynn.  I do not have a lot of time.  I was hoping we could find the church quickly.  Let’s get to Hólar University College.”

As they drive Brynnhildur’s heart skips a beat.  The shadow of a giant cat has been seen lurking around schoolyards.  Each time it appears another child goes missing.

Tíminn áður er aftur: Íslenskt leyndardómur hryllingur (Blog 8) Dan Watt og Gunnhildur Guðbjornsdóttir (þýðingin getur tekið lengri tíma)

Íslenskar lopapeysur eru búnar til úr ull íslensku sauðkindarinnar (Ovis aries). Þær eru oft bláar og hvítar með þríhyrings, eða demantalöguðu mynstri, prjónuðum í bekk eftst á bolnum Þessar peysur eru afar hlýjar. Þær hjálpuðu ömmu með að útbúa málsverð úr súrsuðum hrútspungum, ásamt kartöflum með sýrðum rjóma og salati.

Þær fengu sér allar bjór með matnum því amma sagði að þær þyrftu á því að halda. “Það verður nægilega bjart til að fara upp á fjallið á miðnætti og ég er með nokkrar auka lopapeysur frá Brynju, sem þið getið fengið lánaðar“ sagði amma við Brynhildi og mömmu hennar. “Ertu virkilega að biðja okkur að fara í fjallgöngu til að leita að skessuhelli?“ hreytti Brynhildur út úr sér. Þá mundi hún eftir útlimalanga manninum og veiku stúlkunni í hellinum við Dranginn. “Í fjöldamörg ár hafa verið gerðar skopstælingar af þrettán börnum Grýlu og Leppalúða, eins og risastórar leikbrúður,“ sagði amma, augu hennar köld og blá störðu á vantú Brynhildar. „En jöklarnir eru að bráðna og ef þeir eða einhver sem hatar mannkyn finnur rauðu bók Gottskálks Nikulássonar munum við breytast í afturgöngur.“ „Afturgöngur“ spyr Brynhildur skelfingu lostin ömmu sína. „Við munum breytast í þjóna sem muna frelsið en aldrei öðlast það á nýju“ „Allir Íslendingar myndu þjást?““Allir“ fullvissaði amma hana. „Fyrir mér, mömmu þinni, þér og fleirum sem hafa blandað blóð, mun sanni sökudólgurinn vera augljós. Fyrir þeim sem einungis hafa mennskt blóð í æðum munu endalokin koma fram eins og óhamingja. Þeim finnast örlögin leika þá illa, drekka óhóflega og taka eiturlyf, sem þeir hefðu annars ekki gert. Án þess að velta því fyrir sér af hverju eða skilja neitt munu þeir gera það sem Gottskálk Nikulásson biður þá að gera. Gerðu þig nú klára í fjallgöngu dótturdóttir.“

Tíminn áður er aftur: Íslenskt leyndardómur hryllingur (Blog 7) Dan Watt og Gunnhildur Guðbjornsdóttir (þýðingin getur tekið lengri tíma)

Skessuhorn er fjall í Borgarfirði, á vestur hluta landsins. Skessuhorn er um það bil 967 metrar á hæð og lítur út eins og aflangur píramídi, með þrepum eða stöllum.

Brynhildur starði í fjarskann, þegar rútan nálgaðist endastöðina í Borgarfirði. Hún dáðist að bröttum hlíðum Skessuhorns, hvernig fjallið myndaði aflangan píramída. Amma hennar bjó á gömlum sveitabæ við rætur fjallsins og á þeim hálftíma sem tók þær mæðgur að ganga að bænum velti hún því fyrir sér hvort eitthvað eða einhver í fortíðinni hefði grafið út stallana í fjallinu. Nútíma vélar myndu ráða við það, en í gamla daga voru varla til tæki til þess. Grasið var hátt í aflíðandi hlíðunum og hún fann hvernig hitastigið féll þegar hús ömmu birtist. Húsið var gamalt sveitabýli úr steini, framhliðin súkkulaðibrúnn viður. Þakið var grasivaxið og bratt, upp úr skorsteininum liðaðist reykur.Sitt hvoru megin við rauða útidyrahurð voru hvítir gluggar, með fjórum rúðum hvor. Búlduleitt andlit með ísbláum augum starði á þær gegnum annann gluggann. Hún var komin út, áður en mæðgurnar náðu að útidyrunum. Hún var í hvítri ullarpeysu með ljósbláu mynstri, bláum gallabuxum og strigaskóm. Hún var hærri en bæði Brynhildur og mamma hennar og faðmlag hennar var þétt og kraftmikið. Þegar inn var komið krafðist amma að þær mæðgur settust niður við eldhúsborðið úr birki a meðan hún hitaði vatn í te í yfir litlum eldi sem logaði í arninum. Brynhildi þótti vænt um gamaldags birkieldhúsborðið og stólana sem voru í kring. Einu trén sem voru upprunaleg á Íslandi, fyrir utan birki voru ösp og reynir. Þau voru þó svo sjaldgæf að þau voru einungis notuð í eldivið þegar þau dóu. Eftir að aðalbláberjeteið hafði verið drukkið, sá Brynhildur ömmu fara inn í herbergið sitt. Þegar hún kom út hélt hún á risastóru eggi, sem virtist vera búið til úr bláu og glæru efni, sem fléttaðist hvert inn í annað og myndaði mynstur. Það var svo stórt að amma þurfti að halda á því með báðum höndm. „Hvað er þetta amma?“ spurði Brynhildur, heilluð af fegurð eggsins. „Þetta er blátt kalkspat egg, Bryn,“ svaraði amma hennar og brosti dapurlega. „Þú þarft að finna helli tröllsins í miðjum hlíðum Skessuhorns.“

Tíminn áður er aftur: Íslenskt leyndardómur hryllingur (Blog 6) Dan Watt og Gunnhildur Guðbjornsdóttir (þýðingin getur tekið lengri tíma)

The Time Before Is Again: An Icelandic mystery-horror (Blog 6) Dan Watt and Gunnhildur Gudbjornsdottir (the Icelandic translation may take longer)

Jöklar Íslands hopa um metra á ári hverju, rétt eins og í Kanada, Rússlandi og annarsstaðar í heiminum. Það sem mun koma í ljós við bráðun þeirra gæti verið áhugavert, svo sem útdauðar verur, fornir munir og sjúkdómar.

Brynhildur teygði úr handleggjunum á leið hennar með móður sinni að rútustöðinni. Það var hlýtt, 14 gráður, og hún var einungis í skærbláum físjakka sem hún hafði frárenndan utanyfir bláum stuttermabol með áletruninni: „Betra er autt rúm en illa skipað“. Bláu gallabuxurnar voru aðeins slitnar yfir hnén, en þetta voru bestu buxurnar og hún var að fara að hitta ömmu. Fólk kinkaði kolli til þeirra, er þær gengu framhjá, en enginn nam staðar til að spjalla. Andlitstillit móður hennar var vingjarnlegt en strangt. Ákveðið augnaráðið varð til þess að ísblá augunun glömpuðu í sólinni. Þær greiddu fyrir farmiða á stöðinni og klifu um borð í vetnisknúinn tveggja hæða Hop-Off-Hop-On vagninn. „Sestu í gluggasætið“ bað móðir hennar „ég útskýri á leiðinni.“ Á leiðinni að Skessuhorni horfði Brynhildur á hæðir, ár og stöðuvötn þjóta hjá. Móðir hennar sagði frá fólkinu á Íslandi með sinni tónfögru röddu. Forfeður mínir komu frá Noregi og það er þeim sem þú líkist. Þeir settust að í þorpum á Írlandi og í Skotlandi. Til að byrja með gerðu þeir Skota og Íra að þrælum, en stofuðu síðar fjölskyldur með þeim. Faðir þinn líkist Skotunum og Írunum. Þessi blandaði hópur kom til Íslands í kringum 930. En annað slagið koma upp rökræður um innfædda Íslendinga sem fáir þekkja og trúa á. Risar, tröll, skessur, álfar og huldufólk; fólkið úr sjónum selafólkið. Sagan segir að tröllin og skessurnar hafi fangað og blandast fólki af norrænum uppruna, á meðan huldufólkið og afar sjaldan selafólkið, þeim af írskum og skoskum uppruna. En núna er heimsmyndin að breytast. Jöklarnir bráðna og höfin hitna, það sem liggur í dvala grafið undir ísnum kemur í ljós og vaknar enn á ný!

The Time Before Is Again: An Icelandic mystery-horror (Blog 13) Dan Watt and Gunnhildur Gudbjornsdottir  (the Icelandic translation may take longer)

The Time Before Is Again: An Icelandic mystery-horror (Blog 13) Dan Watt and Gunnhildur Gudbjornsdottir  (the Icelandic translation may take longer)

Tales of Grýla started long before her association with Christmas time.  The first mention of Grýla is around 1300 A.D. when she is described as a hideous giantess who knows when a child is good or bad.  She asks parents to give her their troubled children with the intention of eating them.  To scare her off parents must give her food or shoo her away.  Considering her size it’s not likely they could just shoo her away.  Best to give her food with meat in it.


As she waits for her father‘s Arctic truck to fully charge she gathers clothing into a backpack.  Its at least a five and a half hour drive from their farm in Ásólfsskáli to Hólar University College in the District of Skagafjordur.

She gazes at the hills and farms as they head north along Highway One.  Her father is silent and they listen to Rás 1.  The conversation on the radio is about the number of missing children.

“The one common factor about the children missing is that they are all troubled youth,” a male commentator says.  “All of them have gotten into trouble for bullying or stealing.  The authorities and their families are concerned that someone of ill repute is coaxing these children into joining a mobster like gang.”

“Those poor children,” she hears her father say as he turns off the radio.  “Your mother told me Grýla is a awake and active now.  That means her and Leppalúði’s thirteens sons are free.”

“They are abducting these children?” Brynnhildur asks.

“Not necessarily abducting them but charming them by giving them false promises of caring about them and offering them unimaginable wealth.  It’s like the story of Hansel and Gretel.”

“But the witch with the candy house in the Brothers Grimm tale intended to eat them!”

“Grýla is a cannibal Brynn and so are some of her sons.  Unlike the witch in Hansel and Gretel she is not blind.”

“So what are we going to do?”  Brynnhildur feels helpless inside.

“Your mother told me that during the day ogres and trolls must disguise themselves like us, humans or turn to stone.  During that time they are limited to what their human forms can do.  But at night!  They still appear in their human form but have their ogre or troll strength and power.  What we are going to do is go to the Hólar University College and meet…an interesting individual who will help you see Grýla and her sons during the day or night.

The Time Before Is Again: An Icelandic mystery-horror (Blog 12) Dan Watt and Gunnhildur Gudbjornsdottir  (the Icelandic translation may take longer)

The Time Before Is Again: An Icelandic mystery-horror (Blog 12) Dan Watt and Gunnhildur Gudbjornsdottir  (the Icelandic translation may take longer)

Gjabakkahellir cave is a lava tube 360 meters long with an opening at both ends.  It‘s believed to have formed about  9,000 years ago.  Gjabakkahellir is in the Thingvellir National Park in Southern Iceland

Hilda by Gjábakkahellir cave covered by snow by Gunnhildur Gudbjornsdottir
Gunnhildur standing at the snowed over entrance to Gjábakkahellir cave
Freyr by Gjábakkahellir cave covered by snow by Gunnhildur Gudbjornsdottir
Freyr standing near Gjábakkahellir cave

Three weeks after her mother took her to visit Skessuhorn, Brynnhildur hears that the ocean water is at an all time high and volcanic activity is increasing.   She sees a news bulletin about a tourist guide who was leading a group of tourists through the lava tube of Gjabakkahellir cave in  Thingvellir National Park.  About half way down the tube a tremendous cracking sound occurred.  When the tube stopped shaking the guide could see a new hole leading to a much older lava tube.  When she mentioned this to her mother, her mother became antsy and started texting and making phone calls.

“I must leave for an indefinite time, Brynnhildur, so you are the lady of the house until I get back.  Tell your father I will contact both of you as soon as I can.”

“Why are you going?”  Brynnhildur asked her.

“Because Grýla and her sons have decided to come out into the open!  Watch over your father, he is wise but does not have our strength.”

A few days after her mother has gone Brynnhildur starts hearing about children disappearing.   She mentions the missing children to her father and saw him shiver.  She asks him about the book he is searching for and he shakes his head.

“I know you do not believe in the huldufólk Brynn but they exist.  And I need to find the book you mentioned soon.”

“I believe,” she tells him.  “I saw and heard the man you spoke to and the sick girl,” she admits.

She sees a bewildered look in his green eyes.  “But you can’t, you can only see your mother’s ancestors, the trolls and ogres!”

“I can see both.”

“Then I need you to go with me to Hólar and start searching for Gottskalk Nikulausson’s burial place.  Legend says the red book is buried with him in a secret location.   If your mother wasn’t already busy she would go with me.”

“How can I help if no one knows where he is buried?”

“Because you can see and understand both huldufólk and ogres.”