Skip to content
Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by Medieval Institute Publications 2020

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night: Haunted Saga Homesteads, Climate Fluctuations, and the Vulnerable Self

From the book Paranormal Encounters in Iceland 1150–1400

  • Miriam Mayburd


This article interprets the natural physical topography of medieval Iceland as a zone of paranormal radiation exercising alterity upon those “exposed” to it. This dynamic is extended to “acts of nature” and severe weather phenomena as depicted in Íslendingasögur, and links between meteorological turbulence and revenant hauntings are explored. The central focus is on the psychological and physiological effects of these ecological entanglements upon the sagas’ living characters trapped in these adverse conditions. Of especial interest to the present study is the concept of the open body, borrowed from neuroscience, as well as the phenomenon of the dissolving self-an estrangement from oneself that occurs when all the perceived boundaries between self and environment begin to collapse. These concepts’ proposed applicability and relevance to the medieval Icelandic context enrich our understanding of how medieval Icelandic minds and bodies were perceived and how they functioned (or malfunctioned) under stress limit conditions.

© 2020 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/Boston
Downloaded on 11.12.2023 from
Scroll to top button