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"Hidden People" Lesson #1: Origins

The term "Hidden People" (huldufólk) applies collectively to various humanoid creatures living in Iceland, including elves, dwarves, gnomes, trolls, and so on.

When Viking ships first arrived in Iceland, dragon heads were removed from the prows so as not to disturb the guardian spirits of the land. These spirits are ancestral to the hidden people, who have always been strongly identified with features of the landscape. Hidden people are widely mentioned in sagas written during the first centuries of settlement. For the most part they've remained a folkloric phenomenon parallel to Christian belief, but sometimes they were incorporated into Christian frameworks. In one accounting, Eve was washing her children to prepare them to meet God. God arrived sooner than expected, so she kept the unwashed children hidden, and God saw fit to keep them hidden forever.

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