A journey to Iceland, Elf School and stepping out of the comfort zone of a skeptic — unveils surprising connections and even collective healing
Yes, it’s true…I just completed an Elves and Hidden People research course in Iceland! Are you rolling your eyes? I did too.
Three years ago, almost to the day — a young woman whom I’d just met in an intensive training course in Santa Fe, told our diverse group of 6 about having recently returned from Elf School. Oh please, I thought to myself and silently rolled my eyes. Elf School? Yep. Elf School.
Truth be told, I don’t think I was alone in the group with my initial assessment…but rest assured, after falling in love with my magical new friend, Anna — both traveling to Iceland and Elf school were added to my bucket list. There I sat in the same room, cluttered with book shelves of elf paraphernalia, twinkly lights and statues, that I had seen photos of Anna in. There too, not only did I did I sit mesmerized, listening to hours of folk lore, story-telling and wonder — I indulged in the most ridiculously delicious pancakes filled with fresh whipped cream and jam, Icelandic bread and butter…and coffee, too. How much better does it get than that?
Have you ever had something so simple and yet so scrumptious? Yeah, that’s close to how this tasted.
But let’s be clear…of course I had my doubts. Hey, I’m from New York! I wasn’t going into this whole ‘elf thing’ blindly — even as I entered the school, I wondered what the hell I had gotten myself into.
At the end of the day, it’s not important what people say or do (or how cluttered their space is), it’s how people make you feel…what they awaken within you.
When I was first in the company of Anna a few years back, I was intrigued by her stories, her conviction and, literally, the sparkle in her eyes…and quite honestly, a little sad. Where, why and how had I lost that part of myself — weren’t my eyes once sparkly and full of wonder? Where was the part of me that would have found this all so incredibly enticing and adventurous? When did I become this person whose first reaction was to roll their eyes? Most importantly, what was I going to do about it?
Book a trip to Iceland of course. So, when a friend who wanted to do something new and extraordinary for her birthday asked me to jump on board, it was a Hell Yeah out of the gate, and the rest was history as they say.
Yes, Elf School may sound silly to some. So what. Have you ever questioned where all the wonder in the world has gone? Did we say goodbye when we hit a certain age, took on certain roles and responsibilities?
I know I’ve written about wonder, whimsy and catching fireflies before…but I’m definitely onto something — and the more I travel out of my comfort zone and into the unknown of newness, the more affirmations I receive.
Do you believe in something that perhaps you hide away? So much history and family lineage is lost in an effort to ‘fit in’ to some construct or norm.
When my father was born in a small coal mining town in Pennsylvania, his parents refused to speak their families’ native tongue, Lithuanian, because my father was once called a derogatory racist term as a small child because of it. My grandparents were bound and determined from that point forward to conform and raise an English-speaking ‘American’. And while my Dad did benefit from the ‘American Dream’ in many ways, and was the first in his family to graduate from college — so much rich heritage was lost in the process, a dear price to pay for the ancestry to come. It was no melting pot of diversity for my father— sadly, the goal was to assimilate into sameness.
Sitting in Elf School all these decades later, listening to the impassioned and highly educated historian, founder and headmaster speak, not only transported me…it had me reciting silent prayers of gratitude to my ancestors for all the seeds they sowed that led to here in this moment — that allowed for me to travel, expand, explore — and step out of sameness.
Over 50% of the country of Iceland believe in elves and hidden people. When was the last time you heard someone reference an amazing story of wonder outside of a Disney movie? Where did our family stories disappear to?
And as I sat there in class, I wondered, what in the world could I possibly lose by believing the stories that were being shared with me? There were delightful, full of hope and re-infusing the belief in the kindness of strangers. Wouldn’t you agree that a bit more wonder and belief in possibility could serve us all — especially a divisive, sick and suffering world — a world of intolerance, injustice and abuse of Mother Nature?
Somewhere along the way, we disconnected from it all and are paying the price in our own ways. What if we could reconnect — to ourselves, our wonder, each other, our natural environment, our intuition…and maybe even elves?
Iceland is a remarkable place, quite other-worldly in more ways than one. (In fact, the U.S. astronauts like Neil Armstrong came to Iceland to practice for their expeditions…but I digress.) And I have to say, it’s been a long time since I’ve been anywhere that I didn’t bring along certain preconceived notions or ideas. Iceland got me and reawakened within me a sense of curiosity and excitement.
Somehow as a country, they’ve managed to retain much of their individuality, uniqueness and history by being so geographically isolated from the rest of the world. It is a country of simplicity, natural beauty and an austere, modern aesthetic. There is no clutter. No pollution (or at least on the levels that we have all sadly become accustomed to around the world). The people are environmentally conscious. They do not waste. You can drink water straight from the faucet (as a matter of fact, plastic water bottles are frowned upon). The coffee, bread and butter are delicious.
Faith is the glue of any civilization — however, how we define ‘faith’ is a whole other story.
So what if we could expand our minds, our hearts, our consciousness? What if we create space for our humanness in all shapes, sizes, colors, races, creeds, beliefs, sexual orientations — and what if we could simply befriend, be kind and believe? Much has been done throughout history to discredit the existence of elves and hidden people and yet, the stories of thousands upon thousands of living people tell us differently. And the stories are much the same — they convey how we have benefited from the kindness of the elves.
What if you could move the needle a smidge on your belief-ometer? And allow magic, wonder, goodness, love, kindness, compassion, generosity of spirit in.
As headmaster, Magnus says, “We have benefited so much from the elves — it would be quite stupid to shut down this friendship.”
So friends, what if? What if fairies, elves, hidden people and the like, exist and you are missing out on all the fun? And what if this is all a part of collectively healing the consciousness of the planet that we have been so cavalier with? There is room for you and me, your beliefs and mine. Where there is love, tolerance and openness…there is your best self. It is all connected. We are all connected.
Here’s to expansiveness (and a few of those pancakes filled with fresh cream and jam!). May the sweetness of life prevail to all beings.
As always, I love hearing from you and learning from your experiences. Where has the undercover, eye-rolling skeptic in you held you back from the magic within your own life? Share away in the comments below.