I’ve noticed that both Iceland and the Isle of Man have striking similarities when it comes to their belief in mystical land protectors and fairies.
I find it fascinating, and with the barrier between the spiritual and physical world thinning at this time of year, I believe now is the perfect time to delve into how Iceland’s and the Isle of Man’s folklore align!
In Norse and Celtic mythology, Þjazi (a Norse Giant) and Manannan (a God) share intriguing parallels as super protectors with extraordinary abilities.
Þjazi, a mountain-dwelling jötunn, and Manannan, the Celtic sea deity, guard specific domains. Þjazi's association links him to Norse regions and protector of the mountains, while Manannan shrouds the Isle of Man in mist, concealing it from view. Both possess remarkable powers—Þjazi shape-shifts into an eagle, displaying cunning, while Manannan commands the seas and manipulates weather. Þjazi and Manannan both stand as great and fierce protectors of their realms.
Known as "Huldufólk" in Iceland and "The little people" in the Isle of Man, these fairies are deeply ingrained in both cultural fabric, with stories passed down through generations and still living to this day! In both traditions, fairies are often associated with natural features, such as rocks, hills, and bodies of water. They are believed to dwell within these landscapes, safeguarding their enchanted domains. Additionally, both Icelandic and Manx folklore depict fairies as guardians of the land, responsible for its well-being and prosperity. Their presence is considered a blessing, and offerings or gestures of respect are made to honor and appease them. Interestingly, both cultures share a sense of reverence and caution when interacting with fairies.
It is believed that disturbing their habitats or showing disrespect can lead to consequences. Known to be tricksters, one would be wise not to cross the little people and to understand the importance of maintaining harmony with these hidden folk.
To this day, some Icelanders still leave offerings, such as small trinkets, coins, or food, as a sign of respect to the Huldufólk. It is a way of acknowledging their presence and seeking to maintain a positive relationship with these hidden beings. There are even instances where construction or development plans have been altered or rerouted to avoid disturbing areas believed to be inhabited by the Huldufólk. This reflects the enduring influence of folklore and belief in supernatural beings in Icelandic culture.
In the Isle of Man, you will find the Fairy Bridge, where offerings, wishes, and trinkets are hung on a tree alongside the bridge. It is also recommended to say “hello fairies” every time you drive over the fairy bridge!
Maps of Iceland and the Isle of Man.
The barren, rocky terrain of Iceland and the rugged coastlines of the Isle of Man inspire a sense of mystery and otherworldliness. As mentioned earlier, both regions have strong ties to folklore and beliefs in supernatural beings so the use of color, shading, and texture has served to contribute to the perception of a colder or more mystical atmosphere. Cool color palettes, such as blues and grays, evoke to me a sense of mystery and otherworldly beauty.
The Map of Man already incorporates a few of these mystical creatures, and I need to add some to the map of Iceland for sure. Perhaps I’ll depict unique rock formations or secluded glens linked to the folklore, this will add depth to the Map of Iceland’s narrative.
By weaving together elements of landscape, cultural beliefs, and artistic choices, I hope that these maps effectively capture the enchanting and mystical essence of both Iceland and the Isle of Man and evoke a sense of wonder into the deeper layers of these captivating regions.