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The Revenge Zombies of Iceland

Atlas Obscura talked with Sigurður Atlason, Manager of the Museum of Icelandic Sorcery & Witchcraft, about some of the weirder parts of magic as it is known in Iceland. He spoke of revenge zombies, summoned from the grave in order to haunt your enemies. For seven generations. It's pretty gruesome.

[In order to wake up a dead person] you have to shout out some poetry, some invocations, over the grave. And walk around the church graveyard. And spit on the grave. It can be quite nasty. It is the words or the language that [are] most important to get correct in order to get them up. And it’s very dangerous because of course, once you get the dead man up, he’s nine times stronger than he was in life. So you would never chose a very strong fisherman or farmer, you would choose a teenager or some guy who is not very strong.

You have to fight a little bit with him once he gets up. You have to manage to put your head in front of his and lick up all the liquid that streams out of his nose and mouth, and actually clean him with your own tongue. That’s how you tame him. After that you can just tell him whatever he has to do.

Then there’s the necropants, made from the skin of a dead person, and the worm that comes alive from a stolen human rib, and the elves …all part of ancient Icelandic mythology that you can read about at Atlas Obscura.

(Image credit: Flickr user Bernard McManus)


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