Ljósmóðurstörf Höllu

From Íslenskar Þjóðsögur og Sagnir, vol. 3. collected by Sigfús Sigfússon, p. 539.

Ljósmóðurstörf Höllu (‘Halla’s Work as a Midwife’)

Halla¹ was a lucky midwife. Once, as usual, she was called to a woman who laid on a floor. They had made a bed for her out of hay.² When the birth became harder and she started to scream, then the farmer said “Behave yourself, woman. It’s possible that you don’t have to act like this, though you are laying a while in a hay bed.” Halla then makes another hay bed and says to the farmer “Lay there and see if you like it.” He thought it wouldn’t harm him much to do this and laid down, but then he immediately started to scream and shout, and the woman stopped screaming. When she had finished delivering the baby, the farmer’s screams faded out and stopped after a short while. Then he stood up and was in good condition. Halla then said to the woman “I could let him carry the suffering but I couldn’t get him to give birth.”

¹ Halla was a woman who was considered wise and lived in Straumfjörður. This story comes from a series of stories about her. It is said that she lived around the time of the Black Death in the early fifteenth century.

² I’m told hay beds were not normal, and so it was very disrespectful that she should be denied access to her own bed while giving birth.


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