Cryptozoology is that weird place where mainstream science met folklore, and then they decided to run away together. Whether or not you believe in the existence of Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster or any one of a number of other crytpids, it is undeniable that they have had quite an impact on our collective consciousness. Sometimes, that impact goes all the way to the government.
10 Iceland’s Elves
When the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration set about completing a road that would help connect the Alftanes peninsula with the rest of the country, groups were outraged. Part of the problem was environmental, with some saying that the road was going to destroy bird habitats and not a few of Iceland’s most beautiful lava formations. But another huge part of the outcry was on behalf of Iceland’s oldest native creatures: their elves. Even then, in 2013, the elves came first for countless people who had grown up with stories of just what happens when you cross them.
The voice of the people’s protest was led by a seer and elf garden owner-operator named Ragnhildur Jonsdottir. Jonsdottir claimed—among other things—that one of the largest rocks that was slated to be demolished for the road was an elf church. How does she know this? Because she could see it and sense it, having a connection to the elves that many Icelanders also claim. The problem was compounded by the idea that all elf churches are connected, and destroying one would set off a disastrous chain reaction.
Jonsdottir is not alone in her beliefs, and in 1998, a survey suggested that around 54% of people believed in elves and their power to do good or evil. Protests against building projects made on behalf of elves are so common that the government has a 5-page “standard reply” that they issue when the debate comes up. In the 1970s, a road-building project was stopped because it supposedly went through an elf area, and since then, it has been said that the elves now protect those in the area. They protect those in other areas, too; In 2010, a former member of Parliament walked away from a major car accident with only superficial injuries, and later found out about a belief that there were a group of elves living in a nearby boulder. After consulting with them through Jonsdottir, they accepted his offer to be moved to a safer location in a sheep field near his home.
The debate over the new Icelandic road was no short-lived argument, either. The Icelandic Supreme Court got involved in 2013 to listen to the arguments for the church—which was said to be the legendary church Ofeigskirkja. It wasn’t until March of 2015 that the matter was settled with the moving of the 70-ton “church”. Jonsdottir reported that the elves were happy after being given a year and a half to prepare for the moving of their church, and noted that they were usually more than happy to comply with a request that would benefit their human neighbors.