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The Daily Volcano Quote: the legend of Katla 11 July 2011

Posted by admin in daily volcano quote.

Once it happened that the Abbot of the Monastery of Thykkvabœ had a housekeeper whose name was Katla, and who was an evil-minded and hot-tempered woman. She possessed a pair of shoes whose peculiarity was, that whoever put them on was never tired of running. Everybody was afraid of Katla’s bad disposition and fierce temper, even the Abbot himself. The herdsman of the monastery farm, whose name was Bardi, was often dreadfully ill-treated by her, particularly if he had chanced to lose any of the ewes.

One day in the autumn the Abbot and his housekeeper went to a wedding, leaving orders with Bardi to drive in the sheep and milk them before they came home. But unhappily, when the time came, the herdsman could not find all the ewes; so he went into the house, put on Katla’s magic shoes, and sallied out in search of the stray sheep. He had a long way to run before he discovered them, but felt no fatigue, so drove all the flock in quite briskly.

When Katla returned, she immediately perceived that the herdsman had been using her shoes, so she took him and drowned him in a large tubful of curds. Nobody knew what had become of the man, and as the winter went on, and the curds in the tub sank lower and lower, Katla was heard to say these words to herself: ‘Soon will the waves of milk break upon the foot-soles of Bardi!’

Shortly after this, dreading that the murder should be found out, and that she should be condemned to death, she took her magic shoes, and ran from the monastery to a great ice-mountain, into a rift of which she leaped, and was never seen again.

As soon as she had disappeared, a fearful eruption took place from the mountain, and the lava rolled down and destroyed the monastery at which she had lived. People declared that her witchcraft had been the cause of this, and called the crater of the mountain, ‘The Rift of Katla’.

Jón Arnason, ‘The Legend of Katla’, from Icelandic Legends (London: Richard Bentley, 1864), pp. 134-5.

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1. Johan - 12 July 2011

Nice reading, thank you!

2. Rustynailer - 12 July 2011

That was really good, thank you.
A housekeeper. A bully. How interesting, these “Icelandic Legends” sound like they need reading to me, must have a google. Sometimes there is more to legends than just a nice or not so nice story. There are elements of truth, slight connections to written history, or in Iceland, I believe spoken history.

3. Ugo Bardi - 14 July 2011

An ancestor of mine?

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