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HELM OF AWE (ÆGISHJÁLMUR)

For the ultimate protection, the Norse (particularly women) would draw this symbol between their eyes on their forehead. And of course, to make things even more metal, the Helm of Awe worked best when it was inscribed with either blood or spit. They were also popularly drawn on the inside of helmets.

The purpose of this symbolic placing is not just because it looks cool. The protection that the Helm of Awe invokes isn’t just physical in nature, you see. It’s also a sign of dominance in conflict, and more than that, it represents the ability to cause fear in others and suppress the fear of one’s own mind.

The magic behind the Helm of Awe lies in the runes that make it up. The Norse runic language is one fraught with symbolism and magic. Now, if you recognize any rune from the symbols that make up the Helm of Awe, it’s probably Algiz (or Elhaz), also known as the z-rune. While Elhaz is commonly called the life rune, when placed upside down, it represents death.

Not only do the outside arms around the Helm of Awe make up Elhaz runes, but the larger spokes of this wheel also show the rune. Because of this, it’s thought that not only does this symbol invoke physical protection, but mental and spiritual as well. After all, conquering your own fear is the first step to making your enemies fear you.


ICELANDIC THUNDERCLAP

The continent watched in awe on Monday night as players and fans alike from 330,000 person Iceland celebrated their last-16 victory over England - combining to perform the seismic ‘Huh’.

Iceland’s thunder-clap may fit the mould of an old Viking war cry - but it is in fact a celebration with Scottish roots. Inspired by the fans of Motherwell

Like the oars of a Gokstad ship building up to a battle-like momentum - when the synchronised clap and ‘Huh’ rise to a spine-tingling crescendo - Iceland is inspired and the opposition frozen. 

According to the sports team in Icelandic newspaper Morgunblaðið though - the chant has no association whatsoever to the nation’s Viking roots. But rather the Scottish Premier League. 

They explained to The Irish Times that in 2014 Icelandic side Stjarnan went on a fairytale Europa League qualifying campaign which ended in a playoff defeat to Inter Milan. 

Along the way they met Motherwell, dismissing them 5-4 on aggregate. And it was during the initial 2-2 draw in Fir Park that the Icelanders were first introduced to the equally terrifying, as it is fascinating chant. 

From here their mesmerised fan group - the Silver Spoons (yeah, apparently they’re from the wealthy side of Garðabær) brought the chant home and subsequently introduced it to the national team fan group for the Euro 2016qualifying campaign.

Since then Iceland have faced the Netherlands, Turkey, Czech Republic, Portugal and England to reach the last eight of Euro 2016. The smallest country to ever compete in a major competition. They’re certainly making their presence felt. Hell, by lunchtime on Tuesday Iceland jerseys were sold out in Ireland!


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Why we named it Ísland Extreme Triathlon

It’s simple really. “Ísland” is the Icelandic word for “Iceland.” Although not overwhelmingly unique, we wanted to pay homage to the language, keep it very simple, let people instantly know where the event takes place, and have it general enough that if anything changed in the future, it would apply to anything done anywhere on the island.


15 FUN FACTS ABOUT ICELAND

1. Viking Ties

Iceland was settled by Vikings from Norway sometime in the 800s. This fact makes Iceland a fairly “young” country when it comes to settlement, and also contributes to its distinct cultural background. The Icelandic horses in the country today are unique in the fact that they are direct descendants from the horses the Vikings first brought over from mainland Europe.

And a bonus fun fact for you: The Vikings are the ones who gave both Iceland and Greenland their names, purposefully mis-naming them both so that their enemies would hopefully go to ice-covered Greenland instead of following them to where they actually settled in Iceland.

2. First Parliament

Iceland is home to the very first parliament grounds in Europe. In the year 930 AD, the first Parliament met in Iceland in what is today Þingvellir National Park. The site has since been dubbed a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its cultural, historical, and geographical significance.

3. Tectonic Plates

The “geographical significance” part of Þingvellir being dubbed a UNESCO site is due to the fact that this is one of only TWO places in the entire world where you can see two of the earth's tectonic plates meeting above the earth's surface (the other is in Africa). The North American and Eurasian plates jut up out of the ground here in Þingvellir, moving apart roughly 2 cm per year.

4. Volcanoes

Because it's located on the Mid-Atlantic ridge, Iceland is an incredibly active country geologically. There are more than 125 volcanic mountains in the country, a handful of which are still very active, and another handful that could easily awaken and become active as the country changes and grows.

Iceland experiences a volcanic eruption roughly once every 4 years, though the past few years have seen one eruption or more each year (we all remember Eyjafjallajokull, right?). Because of this constant activity, a good portion of Iceland is covered in lava fields.

5. Glaciers

Surprisingly, another large section of Iceland is covered in glaciers. Glaciers are responsible for carving out everything in Iceland that hasn't been shaped by magma and earthquakes, making for a landscape more unique than any other country I've visited.

6. No Forests

Iceland was formed by some pretty harsh phenomena: volcanoes and glaciers. Much of the country was carved out by slow-moving glaciers, chewing up the land and gouging deep valleys into it. But, contrary to popular belief, trees DO grow in Iceland. However, when the Vikings arrived, they deforested it, cutting down almost all the native tress in the country. Today, reforestation is being attempted, but you'll still definitely notice the lack of forests when you visit.

7. Eco-Friendly

Iceland is perhaps the most eco-friendly country out there. And the kicker is, they don't even have to try very hard. Because the whole country is essentially “alive” with volcanic activity, the nation harnesses hydro and geothermal energy to power more than 80% of the country. Very few fossil fuels are burned there (there are even some hydrogen buses driving around Reykjavik!), and most homes are heated using geothermal water that's pumped up from beneath cities and towns.

They harness the power of rivers like this one near Hraunfossar Waterfall.

8. Preserved Language

While very close to Danish and Norwegian, the Icelandic language remains totally unique. Words with far too many consonants abound, and syllables seem to just blur together. Unlike other languages that have changed drastically over the centuries, Icelandic remains very close to its original roots. A Bible from the early 1500s (the first one printed in Icelandic, which can be found in a folk museum in Skógar) can still easily be read by Icelanders today.

9. Elves and Trolls

The majority of present-day Icelanders (rumored to be more than 50%) believe in the existence of fantastical beings such as elves and trolls. There are many amusing stories and legends about these creatures, and Icelanders go so far as to postpone construction projects if it's believed that something is going to be built where elves currently live.

Large fallen rocks in fields are said to be frozen trolls, and guides like to joke that the smell present in Iceland isn't from sulphur at all — it's the smell of the trolls' dirty bath water. Are those just rocks out in the sea, or frozen trolls?

10. No McDonalds

As astonishing as it sounds, Iceland is one of the only developed countries without McDonalds. Yes, you can find KFC and even Taco Bell in Reykjavik, but forget about picking up a Big Mac or some Chicken McNuggets — you won't find them in Iceland!

11. Foods

Iceland makes up for its lack of fast food with its bevy of traditional foods. Along with things like whale, puffin, and dried fish, visitors can also try fermented shark, sheep's head, and even pickled ram's testicles. Some of these dishes can be found in just about ANY kind of restaurant in Iceland (including a Mexican place that advertised “traditional Icelandic dishes”). The most popular food in Iceland? Hot dogs.

12. Commercial Whaling

Fishing is Iceland's main industry, and the nation remains one of just a few in the world that still allows commercial whaling.

13. Small Population

The entire country of Iceland (which covers roughly the same area as the U.S. state of Kentucky) only holds a population of a little over 300,000 (as opposed to Kentucky, which has a population of more than 4.3 million). This small population makes for a largely rural country, and a capital city which feels like a really big small town.

14. Very little crime

There is little crime in Iceland, and virtually no violent crime. The country does not have a standing army, and its police officers do not carry guns.

15. Northern Lights and Midnight Sun

Being located very close to the Arctic Circle, Iceland experiences long winter nights and long summer days, with almost 24 hours of darkness/twilight in December and nearly 24 hours of daylight in June. Because of this, Iceland is a great place to see both the Northern Lights and experience the Midnight Sun. Though, both of these can be made difficult to see thanks to Iceland's ever-changing weather.