None other have gripped my curiosity more than “Móðir mín í kví, kví,” an Icelandic poem sung in East Iceland. This poem tells the tale of a woman haunted by the death of her newborn child.
Throughout Iceland’s history women that bore children from circumstances that were not acceptable at the time would abandon the newborn to die in the wilderness. Either they thought they would not be able to feed and care for the infant? Maybe they were shamed for the pregnancy? Maybe they were scared that their families, friends or society would dismiss them?
When faced with such choices these women would leave their newborns out in the wilderness to die of exposure.
“Móðir mín í kví, kví,” tells of a woman haunted by the voice of her abandoned child and driven to madness by her choice.
I cannot imagine the grief that consumed such women.
Since immigrating to Iceland 10 years ago I’ve been asked often, “Why did I choose to live in Iceland?” My reasons range from the rural lifestyle that I’ve adopted here, a good job, beautiful nature, and more often my response ends on the topic of Icelandic women.
In my eyes the female spirit in Iceland encompasses strength and community. This strength has served as an inspiration in my life as an immigrant in this new land I now call my home.
In a way I connect with these Icelandic women and their sacrifices.
In this series of photographs I am have included myself, my husband and my students. I teach at a small school in the countryside. My students are familiar with this ghost story. They have sung it in the classrooms and the playground. They volunteered to interpret how they "see" the ghost haunting the woman in the myth. They are my family.