Within the SCA (the Society for Creative Anachronism), I am Asny Hrafnsdottir, a woman in her early 40s living in Iceland. I am a farm wife, simply an average married woman who was born in Norway but immigrated to Iceland during the landnámsöld (age of settlement) in her early 20s and has lived there since. The current year for Asny is about 913, so she immigrated in about the year 890. She lives on a farm in the area near Husavik, where she tends to her sheep and spins and weaves, and occasionally makes glass beads on a very small scale.
Before I lost the content of my website to my own oops, I used to have a bit more here about my persona’s life, but since then I have started writing the occasional story, done in persona from the perspective of Asny, and I’ve decided to continue doing this and allow the visitors of this site to learn more about Asny from those stories. The first of those is here: Asa the Norsk Elghund, a story written in persona.
This site is called Íslensk Húsfreyja, which roughly translates to the Icelandic Housewife. I’ve seen a few different definitions of the word “húsfreyja” out there. One was as an equivalent to the German “frau”, which was a word meant to command some respect. Another was “Lady of the House” meaning a woman who owns her own estate. There’s also the fact that Freyja is one of the main goddesses in the Norse pantheon, and at the time Asny is alive, the Icelandic people are still practicing their ancient pagan religion, of which Freyja is one of the goddesses. So to me, húsfreyja could also be interpreted as a “domestic goddess”.
I started this project when I decided I needed some sort of overarching thing to focus my research and arts activities within the SCA. I already had the generic Viking persona, and decided Iceland seemed like an interesting country to focus on. I decided that I would set a goal of figuring out all of the skills that an Icelandic housewife would need to know to keep her family going, and learn how to do as many of them as possible, crafting things where appropriate, photographing them and documenting them for my website, and creating an encampment for those times I get to go to a camping event in the SCA that looks as accurate as possible. Little did I know what rabbit hole I had started myself down! Iceland just keeps getting more and more fascinating, the deeper I research into it. I now have a small flock of Icelandic chickens in my backyard, a Norwegian Elkhound dog (which I suspect would still have been appropriate in Iceland, as most people who immigrated to Iceland were from Norway), and am working on processing some Icelandic sheep fleeces. I have a list of projects a mile long and enough research I want to do to keep me going for the rest of my life. My husband and I even have a trip to Iceland planned for sometime in 2019. I want to see these places with my own eyes, even if they have changed in the last 1000 or so years.
I’ve also recently started learning the Icelandic language, which is not an easy task. I’m using a cobbled together method of the Pimsleur audio course, which is helping considerably with pronunciation, along with the Memrise course, flashcards (both paper and on my smartphone), charts of verb conjugations, translating papers and books that I’m using as resource material for projects with a somewhat goofy method I’ve developed using Google Translate, and my most valuable resource: I’ve made a small handful of friends via Facebook who are Icelandic – some living in Iceland but a couple born and raised there but who now live elsewhere, who have been a wonderful help when I have questions about pronunciation, finding the right form of a word, colloquialisms, or words that are super specific to the field of research I’m working in at the time, which can often lead to some strange vocabulary. Fortunately one of those friends is also a fibre artist so she knows lots about that area, and one is a farmer (and has dogs, Icelandic sheep, Icelandic chickens, and cattle of some sort) so she knows that area of things, and another has a couple of grammar resources easily available to her. I am super thankful to all of them, so I will say a public thank-you here to Marianne, Sara, Auður, and Thorðis – you’re all wonderful and I massively appreciate all your assistance.
In “Real Life”
In my modern life, I’m Karla King, a woman in her early 40s living in north-eastern British Columbia with her husband and a whole bunch of critters, including a Norwegian Elkhound named Asa. By day I work for the local community college, and teach the odd piano lesson here and there. By night, I research like a madwoman, attempt to create reproductions of some of the things I research and write articles and papers about some of the other things I research, and when I’m not chasing my Iceland obsession in some way, I occasionally play video games, play the piano or one of a few other instruments, do minor renovations to our home, and do various crafts that are completely unrelated to the Viking era, like knitting, crochet, sewing on a machine (though I do sew by hand too!) and needle felting.