|Heimaey in Vestmannaeyjar (Westman Islands). This is where the devastating volcanic eruption occurred in 1973. Homes where burned to ground and buried under lava. Picture is taken from Eldfell which is the volcano on which the eruption occurred. The wiped out part of the town can be seen where the dark area is next to the town. Courtesy of Hansueli Krapf|
Guðrún Guðmundsdóttir (1900-1967) or as she was often known as: Guðrún from Berjanes, worked as a medium for Sálarrannsóknafélag Íslands (Icelandic Society for Psychical Research) from 1930-1939. Before then, she lived for a short time in Westman Islands with her husband where she worked privately as a medium.
|Berjanes on Faxastígur 20 The house Guðrún and Sveinbjörn lived in. Courtesy of Daníel Steingrímsson|
One such individual was Bjarni Einarsson (1869-1944) from Hlaðbær in Westman Islands. In 1917, Bjarni started feeling sick. Instead of getting better through the years, he seemed to get progressively worse. Bjarni finally went to the doctor in 1920 and was told it was most likely a liver ulcer, so in the fall of 1920, he went to Reykjavík for surgery.
|Halldóra Jónsdóttir and Bjarni Einarsson. In the back are their three children, from the left: Sigurður Gísli Bjarnason, Ingibjörg Bjarnadóttir and Björn Bjarnason. On June 4th, 1959, their grandson, Björn Ólafur Björnsson aka Daddi, was with a group of people on Bjarnarey collecting eggs when he fell off the cliff and into the ocean. He was 24 years old when he died (born 1935). Courtesy of Heimaslóð|
|Egg collecting in Fiskhellar in Westman Islands. The church in the background is Landakirkja. Source|
After the surgery, Bjarni went back home. The surgical site healed fast. Towards the end of the year, the sickness flared back up again, suffering so much pain that he was bedridden for seven weeks. In April 1921, Bjarni went back to Reykjavik for another surgery. The surgeon (Guðmundur Magnússon) refused to operate on him due to the heart disease Bjarni was battling with. He was forced to return back home to a life in constant pain.
Three years went by and Bjarni was still in need of help, so in 1924 he went back to Reykjavík for help. The story was the same, he was unable to get help. Bjarni didn't know what to do. During a conversation, it was suggested to him to write Margrét J. Thorlacius (1908-1989) from Öxnafelli a letter. She was a clairvoyant and her otherworldly contact, Friðrik, might be able to help him. This was Margrét's first year as a healer. It is believed that thousands of Icelanders have received help from Friðrik.
|Margrét J. Thorlacius|
Bjarni had no faith that she could help him, but wrote the letter anyway. Time passed and he didn't hear back from her. Then in October 1924, Bjarni's brother, Jón Einarsson, told him that the day before, on October 15th, he was visited by some kind of spirit-being and he somehow knew that it was Friðrik. He wasn't asleep, but he wasn't awake, either. It was some kind of altered state between sleep and awake. Friðrik had told him he couldn't do anything for Bjarni until the 24th, as he needed tools for the surgery. Jón didn't know which month he was referring to, just the date.
On October 24th, Bjarní received a letter from Margrét Thorlacius telling him that Friðrik was going to do what he could to help him. October came to an end and nothing happened.
Around this time, people had started talking about Guðrún from Berjanes' clairvoyance. He wanted to know more about her abilities, so on February 22nd, 1925 he went to see her. He showed her his back and asked her if she saw any imperfections. She examined him and felt she could see cavities or scratches on one side of his back.
Time passed and in the following spring (1925), both Bjarni and his wife Halldóra noticed that his shirts were wet along the spine. It wasn't sweat, but rather a strange reddish-brown fluid that seemed to be secreting from the spine. When they looked closer at his back, there were no abnormalities. However closely they looked, there was no logical explanation for the secretion. One time it was so bad that he had to wring it out of his shirts.
|Bjarni Einarsson's home which he built in 1909: Hlaðbær on Austurvegur 28 is the dark house on the right. It was buried under lava in 1973. Courtesy of Heimaslóð|
Bjarni went to the doctor, most likely Dr. Ólafur Óskar Lárusson, for help. The doctor examined Bjarni's back, but couldn't see any openings of any sorts on his back. There was no explanation where the secretion was coming from, but it was most likely from the glands in his back. The doctor told him to come back the next day.
Bjarni was out walking when he met his son, Björn and his wife. A woman was keeping them company. She was a clairvoyant and visiting the island. Out of the blue, the woman told Bjarni that there was some kind of trauma or injury to his back. This caught him off-guard, because there was no reason she would know anything about it.
On the night of January 24th, 1926 Bjarni woke up in the middle of the night. His entire body was completely numb. He couldn't move at all, not even his eyelids. He felt a powerful electrical stream coursing through his body. It was like it was thrust into his conscience that it was Friðrik causing this. Bjarni couldn't tell how long it lasted, but it happened twice with a week in between. After the two sessions, his health finally improved and the secretions and pain disappeared completely. He could finally do work he was never able to do before.
|From left: Svanhóll, Háigarður, Hlaðbær, Mið Hlaðbær, Litli Hlaðbær and Vilborgarstaðir. The small island in the background is Elliðaey (further away) and the larger one is Bjarnarey. In the background you can see Eyjafjallajökull. Courtesy of Heimslóð|
Midwife, Helga Guðmundsdóttir (1863-1931) was from Ármót in Westman Islands. Her daughter Jórunn had been suffering from poor health for several years. She took her daughter to numerous doctors with very little or no success.
From around 1914, Jórunn was in very poor health and didn't seem to be getting any better. It started with neurological defects in one arm. Jórunn went to Reykjavík seven times to seek help from Dr. Jón Kristjánsson, neurologist. It usually helped for a short time afterwards, but always returned to the same pain before she went back home. The doctors thought it was neuritis or neuralgia. The pain overtook her entire body.
|Helga Guðmundsdóttir and her husband Gísli Gíslason (carpenter). Their children from left: Halldóra, Jórunn and Jón (aka Jón from Áramót)|
A decade later, in the fall of 1924 it got even worse. Jórunn often suffered heart pains followed by fever and complete weakness, forcing her to stay in bed. At this point Jórunn wrote Margrét Jónsdóttir Thorlacius a letter asking Friðrik for help.
Jórunn never received an answer to her letter, but some time later, she had the dream that a girl came to her and told her that Friðrik said hi. She asked the girl if that meant he was coming to help her. The girl then told her that he would be there Monday night.
Around the same time, Jórunn's mom, Helga had gone to Guðrún from Berjanes asking for Friðrik's help.
Monday night came and Jórunn did not sense a visit from Friðrik. Then on Friday, December 25th, 1925 Helga became very sick. The doctor told her she had pneumonia. She laid in bed with a fever of 40 °Celsius (104 °Fahrenheit) and it was only getting worse. The following Sunday she was in such bad shape that she was expected to die.
The doctor prepared Jórunn and the rest of the household for Helga's death. Her son, Jón stayed with her all night and around 11:00 p.m. on Sunday night something strange happened. She found herself in an altered state where she didn't know whether she was awake or asleep. Helga's eyes were rolled back, but it was as if she could see a spirit-being approaching her. Such intense power came with the being that she lost all control of her body. As she lied there completely limp, she started moving her hands, arms and feet and then her entire body moved in a very strange fashion. She was later told it looked like a man performing gymnastics. She had tossed and turned face down.
|Helga lived in Áramót on Skólaveg 14. The house was built in 1924. Courtesy of Daníel Steingrímsson|
Helga felt the skin and flesh on her back moving around to the left and right, up and down. It was like something was pushing down on her back, but no one was touching it. Same thing happened to her skin on her upper extremities and other places on her body. This went on for a while and the people present in the room watched in shock and awe at what was happening in front of their eyes. During all this, Helga could feel herself transforming and feeling like a brand new human being.
Helga hadn't slept for days, but this night she slept, but it was off an on all night. First she slept for 10 minutes. Then she woke up and slept for half hour, then woke up again. The sleeping windows increased a little each time.
In the morning the doctor came to check on her. She was feeling great and sat up in her bed. The doctor was shocked to see the quick improvement as he was expecting something completely different.
During the strange activities it felt like it was Friðrik doing the strange things to her body. It was like he was penetrating her mind and Helga could send him her thoughts without speaking and receive answers in the same manner.
Time passed and Jórunn didn't hear more from Friðrik. Then early in the winter of 1924 while she was lying limp and sick in her bed, it felt like she woke up, although she later understood that she probably wasn't awake. She sensed a man and a woman walk into her and her husband's bedroom and somehow knew that they were spiritual beings visiting her.
Jórunn watch the man hold out a glass and pour drops from it into a spoon. He then told the woman who was with him to sit her up in bed. Jórunn would not have been able to sit up in bed without someone helping her. She could sense the woman walking towards her head, take one arm around her shoulders and sit her up. She was then given the drops in the spoon. Jórunn said out loud that it tasted really gross. The spirit-being told her just to drink water. They then took a glass of water that stood next to her bed and gave it to her to drink.
Then they laid her back down in bed. While lying there she suddenly felt the worst pain she had ever felt in connection with the heart. Just as she felt the pain, it was like a lukewarm euphoric stream coursed through her body. With this the pain was gone and she was wide awake.
Jórunn's husband turned towards her in bed and was very surprised to see her up and sitting. He then proceeded to tell her that he wasn't sure whether he was awake or asleep, but it felt like there were people in the room checking on her. He had seen a man standing between her side of the bed and the door. This was the exact same spot she had seen the man the first time as well.
After that night, Jórunn's health improved and the heart pains disappeared. It took a long time and her other illnesses were slow to heal, but nonetheless she was at least able to get out of bed.
Then in February 1925, she met Guðrún from Berjanes and asked her if she knew if Margrét from Öxnafelli had received her letter. That same evening Jórunn received a message from Guðrún that Friðrik was going to look after her and that she needed to relax. Two nights later, Jórunn woke up with a man in a white coat or shroud entering the bedroom. He walked over to the foot of the bed and at the same moment she felt an electrical charge coursing through her body. The spirit-being told her to sit up. She did as she was told. Between his hands she saw something that looked like a goblet. He brought the goblet to her lips and she drank from it.
She could clearly see the goblet and the liquid inside it. It was clear, but thicker than whole milk. Jórunn lied back down and immediately felt the electricity coursing throughout her entire body. Then the spirit-being walked over to the head of the bed and checked her ears. Jórunn had been suffering from deafness since she was three years old. Doctors had told her it was due to a defective eardrum. Jórunn could feel that the spirit-being was poking something into her ear and it hurt.
At the same time as this was happening, Jórunn saw a man standing by the foot of her bed. He was beautiful. She had never seen such bright, deep and beautiful eyes in any person. Jórunn was experiencing all this with her mind's eye. The spirit-being at the foot of the bed was hiding his face behind a veil. She was in such awe that she started reading the psalm "Ó, Jesú bróðir besti"
Before she finished the psalm the vision was gone. When her husband woke up, he felt he had sensed something during the night as well, but not as strongly as before. That day Jórunn received another message from Guðrún that Friðrik wanted her to bathe every day in lukewarm water and walk outside as much as she could. Three days later, another message came from Guðrún that she had to be outside more than she had been. Jórunn was a little surprised, because she couldn't figure out how Guðrún knew she'd been slacking on going outside.
After this, Jórunn started getting increasingly better until the fall of 1925. She was looking after a man on his deathbed and she pushed herself more than she could handle. She could feel the pain in her heart again which lasted for some time. Since then Jórunn had sensed Friðrik on a daily basis and been healing very well.
The last story is about Ásta Þorgeirsdóttir at Sólbrekka on Faxastígur 21. She contracted the measles in January 1925. She felt tightness around her chest and lied in bed with fever. Dr. Kolka came to check on her and said that she had bronchitis in her lungs, but then at the end of the exam he was certain it was tuberculosis. He wanted Ásta to do a light-treatment as soon as she was able to get back up on her feet. She didn't like the sound of that and if it came down to it, she would rather go to Reykjavik for treatment.
|Sólbrekka on Faxastígur 21|
The time came that Ásta was able to get out of bed and walk around. After a few days, a man went to see Guðrún from Berjanes on her behalf to seek help from Friðrik. This was in late February 1925. The man returned with the message that Friðrik had promised to take care of her and that she needed to drink 3 cups of boiled water every evening.
The night after she received this message, Ásta thought she could sense Friðrik. It was close to morning and she was awake in her bed. She heard the front door open and then close. Everyone in the house was still fast asleep and no one was expected to arrive. Only a moment later she felt someone supporting their arm tight on her chest and in that instant electricity shot through her entire body.
Ásta felt pain in the same area of the chest where the tightness had been earlier. She was wide awake, but as soon as the spirit-being touched her, it was like all strength left her body and some strange slumber or semi-coma came over her.
The day after, Ásta was feeling much better. The pain was almost all gone. The following spring, in 1925, she got a bad cold and some of the symptoms returned. She then went to see Dr. Ólafur Lárusson who examined her. She had mucus in her lungs. It was bad enough that she had to go back once a month for follow-ups. Then in the fall of 1925, her throat started hurting and she was sick with fever. The doctor told her she had a bad case of pharyngitis (sore throat). The pain was so bad that she couldn't eat. Tired of being sick, she again asked Friðrik for help. Three days later all the symptoms were gone.
As time went by, Ásta seemed to be doing much better. Then one day Guðrún sent a message to her that Friðrik wanted to give her some advice. Knowing Guðrún had polio and difficulty moving around, Ásta went over to her house. They sat down and Guðrún went into a trance. While in a trance, Friðrik came through and told Ásta to put an American band-aid on her back and chest where the stinging pain had been. When the band-aid fell off she was to put wool felt in place of the band-aid. Every night she was to put 5 drops of refined turpentine (white spirit) on it. She was to hold it in place where the band-aids used to be until she was given the message to let go. She was also to take hot foot baths before bed and not to go out late at night. When she was inside, she was to wear warm slippers.
Ásta followed the advice and had managed to stay healthy ever since or at least until she shared this story in March 1926.
As mentioned earlier, Vestmannaeyjar went through a devastating period when the volcano, Eldfell erupted and wiped out around 400 homes. The faint shaking started at 8:00 p.m. on January 21st, 1973. It was too faint for the residents to feel. The following night over a hundred tremors were picked up at the seismic station. All tremors seemed to have stopped at 11:00 a.m. the following morning. But then at 11:00 p.m. the tremors started up again, but this time they were shallower and more intense. The epicenter had moved closer to Heimaey. The largest tremor only measured 2.7 on the Richter scale.
|Photo of the volcano Eldfjell which erupted in 1973 and destroyed around 400 homes. Courtesy of Joxean Koret|
The entire island was evacuated and it was talk about making it a permanent one. Many people lost their homes that day and this event shaped the lives and the history of this small island.
Despite this terrible event, the residents found a way to use this misfortune to their advantage. The lava was still hot and flowing all over the place and was not let go to waste. They used it to heat the water and generate electricity. The Tephra (pyroclasts) was used to build the airport's runway and as a landfill to build 200 new homes.
|Left: Lava stopped flowing in the street between two factories. Source Right: The same street has been cleared of lava. Source|
|The church cemetery gate. Left: Under ashes in 1973. Source Right: The church cemetery gate in 2007. Courtesy of Thomas Quine|
|Ash covered streets from eruption in 1973 on Heimaey. Left: Source Right: Ash covered streets. Source|
|Ash covered streets and homes from the eruption in 1973. top: Source middle: source bottom: source|
|The night of March 27th, 1973. A devastating eruption in Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar. People stand by helpless watching homes burn. Ljósmyndasafn Reykjavíkur|