A while back I wrote a post about our visit to the Museum of Sorcery and Witchcraft, on the West Fjords, and posted a picture of their famous necro pants. I failed to elaborate on the necro pants legend in that post, but alluded to the fact that I would do so later.
So here it comes.
First of all: there is a reason why the Museum of Sorcery and Witchcraft is on the West Fjords. It’s because this was the site of Iceland’s witch hunts in the old days. The folks up there were a bit, shall we say, heavy on the paranoia. “They travelled to some pretty dark places, metaphysically speaking. For instance, someone would get it into their head that someone else was causing some third person grief (sickness, misfortune, or whatever), and before you could say voodooforyou they’d be accusing them of witchcraft and burning them at the stake.” (That quote is taken directly from my brand-new, hot-off-the-presses The Little Book of the Icelanders in the Old Days, which is loaded with trivia and information about Iceland back in the day plug plug.)
First, just to recap, here is a picture.
And the legend:
Whosoever wanted to obtain a pair of necro pants has to gain permission from someone he knew to use his skin when he was dead. When that happened the first guy was supposed to go to the graveyard and exhume the corpse of the donor. He then skinned the corpse up to the waist to make a pair of pants (of sorts) that he put on. Next he had to go out and steal a coin from a poor widow (!) during one of the main church holidays. He put the coin into the scrotum of the necro pants, along with a magic stave. If he did that, the scrotum would never be empty of coins. Also, it was not advisable to remove the stolen coin and the magic stave from the scrotum of the necro pants at any time.
Apparently the mental health of the person in question was dependent on him getting rid of the necro pants before he died (er … you mean he was of sound mental health before he put on the pants?). If he was not able to he would not only go insane (aside: did it matter? He was soon going to be dead), his corpse would also wind up crawling with lice. To avoid this he has to find someone willing to put on the necro pants before he died. When he found that person, the new necro wearer had to put on the right leg of the pants before the original guy has removed the left leg. In the event that the first guy started to have second thoughts, that was tough balls because once he has the one leg on the other leg automatically followed.
And that’s the story of the necro pants.
At one point I heard that there was this really foul flour that the Danes sent over to Iceland (this is back in the day when Iceland was a poor, oppressed Danish colony and forbidden by law to trade with anyone but the Danes) and there was some kind of chemical reaction in that flour that made people kinda high, but not in a fun, happy kind of way - in a dark, seriously morbid kinda way.
I don’t know about you, but I’m willing to bet good money that all that rancid flour went to the West Fjords.