What unique things happened in the national consciousness of Iceland; the land; the language; the culture? Headmaster of the Elf School Magnus Skarphedinsson explains it like this:
1. Most people in Iceland know somebody personally who has had an encounter with hidden people or elves.
Throughout its history Iceland has known difficult living conditions, with the long winters, unpredictable volcanos, times of not enough food, fishing accidents. At one time, one in four young men would die from fishing accidents. There are seemingly as many stories from a relative, grandparent, neighbor who have been helped in some way by kindly elves and hidden people. They have been rescued from being lost in the forest; were taken in from the cold, fed, and taken care of; were guided about when to go out fishing and when to stay on shore. Many of the accounts are about life and death survival moments.
2. The Age of Enlightenment did not arrive in Iceland until much later than the rest of Europe.
Being further away meant that the shift towards a clockwork universe did have the same impact. The price of the rationalistic way of thinking from the Enlightenment was a loss of faith. For Magnus, faith is the key to why in Iceland people have been able to hold on to their beliefs this far into the modern era.
In 1941 during WWII the British and American armies invaded Iceland. With it the Enlightenment arrived more quickly and is now cleaning the elves away.
How do you study elves, hidden people, and phenomena that not everyone experiences?
Magnus is a historian and has not personally had encounter with hidden people. He thinks that is because the elves know who he is. “Hidden People have described me as their worst enemy,” he said. “They think I’m some kind of maniac.”
He says that the only way to study them is through collecting accounts from people who have. By this point, he has taken more than 1,300 witness interviews and, convinced that we need to take this longstanding friendship more seriously, is always looking for more.
After doing this for 30 years Magnus is so well known that witnesses come up to him in the grocery stores with their accounts. But on a slow news day, he is known to go around town, asking anyone and everyone:
Walking thru nursing homes and talking to the elders is often particularly fruitful.
This phenomenological way of working is a similar approach taken by the Institute of Noetic Sciences in their rigorous studies about consciousness and the mind-body connection.