In Norse worldview the ice, snow and arctic winds of Iceland were seen as evil giants. Thus Iceland was known as Jötunheimr, land of the giants. Jötunheimr in turn was one of the nine homeworlds joined by the world tree Yggdrasill. Several other geological features of the Icelandic landscape also have a mythological meaning. For example, Hekla one of Iceland’s most active volcanoes which was seen as the fire giant Surtr also known as the giant with the flaming sword. When Hekla threw its eternal fires high into the southern skies it became Surtr and once he moved he set the world aflame. In modern day Iceland Surtr is still seen as a giant of fire. The volcanic island of Surtsey which emerged out of the ocean in 1963 was even named after him. The name Hekla comes from the old Norse word for cloak since it’s summit is often hidden in a cloak of mist.
In the later middle ages Hekla (and volcanoes in general) was infamously known ...Continue Reading