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A survey conducted by the University of Iceland in 2007 found that 62% of the 1,000 respondents thought it was at least possible that elves exist.
Ragnhildur Jonsdottir, a self-proclaimed “seer”, believes she can communicate with the creatures through telepathy.
“It will be a terrible loss and damaging both for the elf world and for us humans,” said Jonsdottir of the road project.
Though many of the Friends of Lava are motivated primarily by environmental concerns, they see the elf issue as part of a wider concern for the history and culture of the very unique landscape.
Andri Snaer Magnason, a well-known environmentalist, said his major concern was that the road would cut the lava field in two and destroy nesting sites.
“Some feel that the elf thing is a bit annoying,” said Magnason, adding that he was not sure they existed. However, he said: “I got married in a church with a god just as invisible as the elves, so what might seem irrational is actually quite common [with Icelanders].”
Terry Gunnell, a folklore professor at the University of Iceland, said he was not surprised by the wide acceptance of the possibility of elves. “This is a land where your house can be destroyed by something you can’t see (earthquakes), where the wind can knock you off your feet where the smell of sulphur from your taps tells you there is invisible fire not far below your feet, where the northern lights make the sky the biggest television screen in the world, and where hot springs and glaciers ‘talk’,” Gunnell said.
“In short, everyone is aware that the land is alive, and one can say that the stories of hidden people and the need to work carefully with them reflects an understanding that the land demands respect.”
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