Looking Ahead: The Völvuspá

(This is not as timely as I hoped it would be, but I still think you’ll all find it of interest…)

Pauline Frederick - Potiphar's wife,  via the Library of Congress collection (Flickr Commons)

Pauline Frederick – Potiphar’s wife
via the Library of Congress collection (Flickr Commons)

An interesting Icelandic phenomenon has recently come to my attention, namely that at the end of every year, many of Iceland’s national media outlets consult their own “völva,” or, roughly, their [female] oracle, to get predictions for the coming year. For the full story on this, see my editor’s discussion online, here. (Oh, and just in case your mind runs the sort of childish course that mine does, I will confirm, that yes, “völva” is pronounced much like “vulva,” which has been, full disclosure, a source of perpetual amusement for me and some of my English-speaking coworkers.)

Anyhow, one of the magazines which has been consulting with their völva and publishing the predictions regularly (since the 1970s, actually), is Vikan. My editor picked up a copy of their New Year’s issue to take a look at this year’s predictions, and I borrowed it, both for a reading/translating exercise, and because I was really intrigued about what she had to say.

The Vikan völva’s predictions, it turns out, extend from weather to politics to social issues, natural disasters, and famous people abroad. They are extensive. And in case you’re wondering, she did apparently get a lot right in her predictions last year. (There is a whole page in this issue relating which predictions the she made last year which came true—a quick skim showed that she correctly predicted some weather events and earthquake tremors, and also had some accurate readings related to  government leadership, Eurovision, Baltasar Kormákur, and foreign movies made in Iceland. Just FYI.)

I haven’t quoted and translated the full 2014 Völvuspá, but here are some of the highlights:

Völvuspá: 2014
Oracle Prophecy: 2014

[Intro]

Snemma í desember heimsækjum við völvuna okkar. Notaleg stemning ríkir á heimili hennar, kertaljós um allt og heitt kaffi í bollum. Þegar búið er að draga upp spurningalistann er kveikt á upptökutækinu. Allt eins og það á að vera. Við bregðum ekki út að þeim vana að byrja á því að spyrja hana um veðurfarið á komandi ári.

Early in December, we visit our oracle. A cozy atmosphere pervades her home, with candles everywhere and hot coffee in cups. When the question list has been drawn up, the recorder is turned on. Everything as it should be. We don’t break our habit of beginning by asking her about the weather conditions in the coming year.


Veðrið
The Weather

“Veturinn verður svolítið erfiður, rysjóttur og er upphafið að því sem koma skal. Við förum að sjá aftur svipaða veðráttu og ríkti í kringum árin 1983-1985, með sköflum, klaka, ófærð og frosti,” útskýrir völvan. “Næsta ár verður frekar kalt og þungbúið, janúar og febrúar verður leiðinlegir mánuðir veðurfarslega. Lengi að líða, eins og þeir eiga oft til að vera.”

The winter will be a little difficult, unpredictable, and is just starting. We are going to see weather similar to that around the years 1983-1985 again, with snowdrifts, ice, bad driving conditions, and frost,” explains the oracle. “Next year will be rather cold and gloomy; January and February will be unpleasant months, weather-wise. They will be long in passing, as they often are.

“Mars verður köflóttur mánuður, um tíma gæti fólk haldið að það væri farið að vora, en við verðum samt heilmikið í kulda og snjó. Það verður slæmt á Norðurlandi en á móti kemur að Norðlendingur fá einna besta sumarið. Ég sé líka klakabrynju, snjóþyngsli, og ófærð á Norðvestur- og Vesturlandi. Á Norðurlandi verður snjór fram eftir öllu.”

March will be a checkered month. About the time people think it’s time for spring, we will get a lot of cold weather and snow. Weather will be very poor in the North, but on the other hand, the North will have the best summer. I also see icicles, heavy snowfall, and bad driving conditions in the Northwest and West. In the North there will be snow long after everywhere else.

“Sumarið, finnst það svolítið þokukennt, vil vera bjartsýn, held að við fáum samanlagt mánuð þar sem gott veður ríkir en ég sé engar hitabylgjur, því miður. Eins og ég sagði verður sumarveðrið einna besta fyrir norðan og ennig á Norðausturlandi.”

The summer seems a little vague, but I want to be optimistic. I think that we will have a month total of overall good weather, but I don’t see a heatwave, unfortunately. Like I said, the summer weather will be best in the North, and also in the Northeast.

Bessastaðir
Bessastaðir (the home of the President)

“Forsetinn okkar gerir margt gott á árinu en dansar áfram á línunni og ögrar stjórnvöldum. Hann gerir þessari ríkisstjórn þó engar sérstakar skráveifur, enda guðfaðir hennar.”

Our president will do more good during the year, but is close to crossing a line and provoking the government. Still, as its godfather, he won’t play any especially nasty tricks on on this government. [Not entirely sure about some of the turns of phrase in this one…]

Náttúruhamfarir
Natural Disasters

“Jörðin er að hristast í gang og ekki kæmi mér óvart þótt yrði stórt og mikið neðansjávargos á Reykjaneshryggnum. Það verða nokkrar jarðhræringar sem færast upp á landið líka, ef ég sé þetta rétt. Ég sé eldsumbrot á tveimur stöðum. Önnur í miklum kulda en það verður hlýrra í veðri þegar hin verða. Ég sé ekkert manntjón en þetta hefur árif á samgöngur.”

Ground shaking is on the way and it wouldn’t surprise me if Reykjaneshryggur had an undersea eruption. There will also be a few eathquakes which move the country as well, if I am seeing it right. I see volcanic activity in two locations. One during the cold, but it will be warmer weather when the other happens. I don’t see any loss of live, but it will have an effect on transportation.

Tölvuleki
Information Leak
[literal: Computer leak]

“Tölvulekamál á borð við þetta Vodafone eru rétt að byrja. Það verður fleiri innbrot og tími öryggisleysis í þeim geira að renna upp. Við höfum hvorki fjármagn né getu til að loka fyrir þetta. Ég er hræddust um sjúkrastofnanir, að viðkvæmar upplýsingar leki út. Hvort það verða endilega sjúkraskrár er ég ekki viss um viðkvæmar upplýsingar þó. Það verður erfitt að loka fyrir þetta.”

Computer leak problems on the caliber of those of Vodafone’s [backstory here] are just starting. There will be more break-ins and insecurities in that sector are on the rise. We have neither the resources nor the ability to block these. I am the most afraid for the hospitals and health clinics, that sensitive information will leak. Whether it will necessarily be medical records I’m not sure, but sensitive information. It will be difficult to block it.

Samskipti Kína og Íslands
Relations between China and Iceland

“Samskipti okkar við Kínverja skila litlu næstu árin, enda hugsa þeir til mun lengri tíma en við. Þeir hugsa í áratugum á meðan við horfum bara örfá ár fram á við.”

Our relations with China will change little in the next year, since they think further ahead than we do. They think in decades while we look just a few years in front of ourselves.

Art and Culture

“Ég sé ekki nýja höfunda slá í gegn á árinu en margar ungar konur eiga eftir að koma fram á sjónarsviðið á næstu árum.”

I don’t see new authors breaking through this year, but many young women shall finally emerge in the coming year.

[…]

“Ég sé mikla velgengni hjá Auði Jónsdóttur. Gerður Kristný á eftir að ná þangað sem hún vill ná. Góðir hlutir verða ennig í gangi hjá Yrsu Sigurðardóttur og sífellt fjölgar þeim löndum sem bækur Arnaldar eru gefnar út í. Guðmundur Andri Thorsson og Andri Snær Magnason, ég sé líka gott gengi hjá þeim. Kristín Eiriksdóttir sem kom með Hvítfeld í fyrra er upprennandi sjarna en fer hægt og bítandi. Það kemur mjög góð bók frá Guðrúnu Evu Mínervudóttur á árinu, sýnist mér, og það verður líka áframhaldandi velgengni hjá Auði Övu Ólafsdóttur. Bjarki Karlsson, nyjá ljóðastjarnan, er rétt að fara í gang.”

I see a lot of success for Auður Jónsdóttir. Gerður Kristný will achieve what she has wanted. [Not sure if this is intentionally vague, or if I’m missing something.] Good things are also on the way for Yrsa Sigurðardóttir and there will be continual increases in the countries where Arnaldur’s books are published. Guðmundur Andri Thorsson and Andri Snær Magnason: I also see a lot of success for them. Kristín Eiriksdóttir, who published Hvítfeld [White Fur] last year is a rising star; that will happen slowly but surely. A very good book by Guðrún Eva Mínervudóttir will come out this year, I see, and there will also be continued success for Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir. Bjarki Karlsson, the new poetry star, is well on his way.

“Sá leikari sem mér sýnist standa mest upp úr á komandi ári er Ólafur Darri Ólafsson. Ég sé ótrulega velgengni í kringum hann.”

The actor I see most standing out in the coming year is Ólafur Darri Ólafsson. I see unbelievable success around him.

“Baltasar Kormakur heldur áfram að vinna erlendis, meira en áður.”

Baltasar Kormakur will continue to work abroad, more than before.

“Tónlistarmaðurinn Ásgeir Trausti á eftir að “meika það” og vekja mikla athygli á erlendri grund.”

Musician Ásgeir Trausti, will “make it” and arouse much interest abroad.

[…]

Jafnrétti Kynjanna
Gender Equality

“Hægt og rólega mjakast jafnréttisbaráttan áfram og það kemur að því einn góðan veðurdag að fólk áttar sig á því hversu fáranlegt er að mismuna fólki eftir kyni. Ég held að þó að jafnrétti verði ekki endanlega náð fyrr en við erum báðar farnar.”

Slowly but surely the fight for equal rights is moving forward and it will happen that one fine day people will understand just how absurd it is to discriminate against people based on gender. But I think that equality will not totally be achieved until we [ed: presumably the völva and the interviewer] are both gone.

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