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Ghosts and necropants

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Ghosts and necropants

Museum of Sorcery & Witchcraft in west Iceland, where visitors can observe obscure magical objects and learn how to scotch ghosts, is steadily growing in popularity.

The Witchcraft Museum in Hólmavík, Strandir, opened in 2000. “The Strandir area has always been notorious for witchcraft and that sparked the idea of the museum,” Sigurdur Atlason told icelandreview.com. He is the manager of Strandagaldur, the company behind the museum’s exhibitions.

The Witchcraft Museum has gained popularity in recent years, last year it had 8,000 visitors. So far mostly Icelanders have visited the museum, but tourists are becoming increasingly interested.

“All the information is in Icelandic, English, German, French, and by next summer in Italian too,” Atlason says. He adds: “It is important to us that tourists from all nations can enjoy the exhibitions.”

In Hólmavík visitors can learn about the witch hunt in Iceland in the 17th century, take a look at magical objects on display and take part in scotching ghosts on special ghost days. The most popular object in the museum are the so-called necropants.

“Necropants are part of a complicated sorcery for gaining money,” Atlason explains. “The owner of necropants had to make a deal with a male friend while still alive about digging up his body after a natural cause of death, skinning it below the waste and wearing the skin as necropants.”

Atlason continues: “Then the necropants-owner would have to steal money from a poor widow and draw a magical symbol on a piece of parchment. After placing both in the necropants’ ‘pouch,’ the owner would magically come into possession of money.”

The original idea of the Witchcraft Museum was to spread the exhibitions out over the Strandir area. Apart from Hólmavík there is a magical exhibition in Bjarnafjördur fjord called the Sorcerer’s Cottage.

Two other exhibitions are planned: One in Trékyllisvík inlet, where sorcerers used to be burned alive, and another one in Hólmavík to be finished in 2011, comparing the witch hunt in Iceland and in the rest of Europe in the 17th century.

“In Iceland mostly men were accused of witchcraft, while in Europe mostly women were burned alive after being condemned as witches,” Altason says.

To read more about the Witchcraft Museum, visit www.galdrasyning.is.

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