A museum dedicated exclusively to witchcraft
The chilling Strandagaldur Museum welcomes you in western Iceland.
Few places do justice to being considered extraordinary sites as blatantly as Iceland. Cultural peculiarities and natural phenomena abound and have proved to be more than enough New Window to fascinate all those who undertake the adventure of reaching those shores.
One of the most intriguing aspects of Icelandic culture is without a doubt the daily communion among its inhabitants, like an innate feature, with magic and mysticism – a communion forged from the dialogue with the natural forces that manifest themselves there with unbelievable intensity. Witnessing the violence that molds its many waterfalls or the volcanic force that reigns over much of the territory, it is almost ridiculous to try to assimilate their presence without recurring to supernatural resources. Perhaps for that reason Iceland is not only full of myths and legends, but it also boasts a rich tradition of mysticism and witchcraft.
In the year 2000, the Strandagaldur Museum of Witchcraft and Sorcery opened its doors in Hólmavik, on the western side of the island, a region that is particularly prosperous in the performing of spells. Inside are talismans and various instruments for practicing magic. The museum also widely documents the witch-hunts that, as in many other places in the world, took place in Iceland toward the end of the 17th century. The collection is complemented by the description of various spells included within the island’s witchcraft traditions.
Without a doubt, the pièce de résistance is something called the “necropants,” made of dissected human skin from the legs and which was used as part of a sophisticated spell designed to bring money. Although no other part of the exhibition is as maudlin as this garment, the space as a whole and the experience of the visit leave a chilling, even terrifying sensation. In this sense, Strandagaldur confirms the popular saying that “witchcraft is not for everybody.”
Images courtesy of Strandagaldur Museum of Icelandic Sorcery and Witchcraft / by Sigurður Atlason.
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