Icelandic folklore tells of a time, during the spring month of Easter, when covens of witches would gather. Their stomping ground of choice? Why, a world renowned 4,892 foot stratovolcano known as Hekla – of course.
Situated in the south of Iceland, roughly a 2 hour drive east of Reykjavik, Hekla is an imposing towering Mount that dominates the local skyline. Translated from Icelandic, Hekla is the word for a short hooded cloak, possibly inspired by the recurring cover of cloud typically found at its peak, a phenomenon you can see for yourself on this week's episode.
Revered as one of Iceland’s most notorious volcanoes, it's fierce reputation is perhaps fitting, considering it’s nickname as the ‘Gateway to Hell’. It's easy to see how the landmark earned this title, considering old world superstitions that proclaimed local birds in flight around the volcano were lost and wretched souls.
In some versions of the lore, it’s also recounted that witches met in order to commune with the devil – doing who knows what – we’ll never quite know. But it’s probably safe to assume that a quiet night in of crocheting was not top order in the agenda.
Though currently dormant, Hekla historically has been one of the most active volcanoes in Iceland to date, with more than 20 eruptions taking place since 874. One of it’s oldest recorded eruptions is documented in a 12th century poem, the composition penned by a Benedict monk, no less. Considering all the fiery hubbub surrounding the site, you can see how the tempestuous location inspired parallels with fiery infernos and portals to underworlds. A back in the day, hotbed (in more ways than one) for curious creatures of the night.
Against this hellfire backdrop, our sixth episode ‘Gates of Hell’, recounts the melancholic musings of a world forgotten, as voiced by our anonymous witch. She weaves a tale of a time, when alongside her fellow sisters they dominated the landscape. A time, in which molten lava flowed scorching riverways across their hallowed earth.
Inspired by Hekla’s vibrant folklore, we fleshed out our narrator as a slippery and nostalgic witch. She speaks to the audience through oracular tenses, teasing memories of when a fireworld ruled, of a time that still believed in magic and in turn where her powers reigned. Now impotent, since the world turned largely secular, she prophesies of a future, where she’ll once again arise.
Since it's been 17 years since the last eruption struck, official scientific wisdom maintains that it’s not so much of a case of if the volcano will stir and reawaken from it’s slumber but rather a question of when. Could there be an element of real world truth to our witchy prophesy? In the words of the Hekla witch – “Wait and see…”
Be sure to click on the link below in case you’ve missed it!