Oct 30, 2011 by     2 Comments    Posted under: lit
There are a lot of ways to make a buck these days, but I’ll bet it never occurred to you to ask your friend for the flesh from his rotting corpse, post mortem, in order to make some dough.  Sure, we’ve got lot of options today – savings accounts, investment portfolios, and a house full of shit that we should probably sell on eBay, but the 17th century Icelandic sorcerer had to be a bit more creative.
Iceland, with all its insane natural beauty, is also cursed with months upon months of total darkness each winter. It’s no wonder that not long after the Vikings settled in, they started seeing things. Trolls, sea monsters, fairies, hidden people: you name it, someone saw it in Iceland beneath the bubbling volcanic fields and steaming molten lava. (Creatures you can in fact hear on Bjork’s latest album.)

Enter the witches and sorcerers.  While the rest of the world was busy burning women at the stake for reading fortunes in tea leaves or using voodoo dolls to punish philandering husbands, the Icelanders were taking wizardry to a whole new level.

Pretend for a moment you’re a filthy, dirty, broke-ass peasant whose only dream in life is to get your hands on some cash so you can bang the milk maid of your dreams. (Are you pretending? Are you imagining how bad you smell? Good.) Now, what’s that? No money you say? No problem! Just follow these insanely complicated steps and good fortune is all yours.

Step #1 Find a good friend, preferably drunk, to make a super creepy pact with. According to legend the man must make a pact with another living man, get his permission to dig up his dead body, and skin it from the waist down. The skin must be completely intact with no holes or scratches in order to be a contender. (Note: No mention is made about the amount of leg hair required.)

Step #2 After finishing step one, assuming you friend led a long and happy life and was buried in a shallow grave, the sorcerer (that’s you) digs him up when his wife isn’t paying attention, does a little filleting, and steps into the skin which will immediately become one with his own.

Step #3 You must commit petty theft. (Listen, you’ve already robbed a grave, and dismembered  and skinned your friend, so this part shouldn’t be a problem.) Steal a coin from a poor widow on either Christmas or Easter and keep it in the scrotum pocket of your Necropants. (That’s right, the scrotum pocket of your dead friend’s body, which you’re wearing now.)

If all of the steps are done correctly, the pants, called Nábrók or Necropants in English, will make you rich beyond your wildest dreams.  Every time you reach down to your scrotum coin purse, there, sitting next to your friends, will be a shiny new gold coin.  Maybe there will even be enough gold coins to get the milk maid to look past the fact that you are wearing the rotting flesh of another human being.  To say nothing of issues with personal hygiene, or indeed since you’re not supposed to remove the pants, how to take care of personal matters (or your milk maid).

As for your spiritual wellbeing, it will be at risk unless you get rid of the Necropants before you meet your Viking maker. In the event that you die wearing the pants, your entire body will become immediately infested with lice. (Gross!  Although ultimately the milk maid’s problem.) You must therefore find someone willing to take the pants, and put his leg into the right leg of said Necropants before you step out of the left one. If all goes according to plan, these magical pants will keep on drawing money for generations to come. Lucky you – you friend killing, body dismembering, flesh wearing, wildly wealthy lunatic you!

Author’s Note: For information on the history of Necropants and other random Icelandic folklore, please visit the Museum of Icelandic Sorcery and Witchcraft in Staðarskála, Iceland, or somewhat more conveniently at

Kelly Swartz is an enthusiastic explorer of the world, wearer of knee socks, writer of odd stories, and taker of snap shots. She currently resides in Chicago. Also, let me know if you have any questions about these pics in the comments section below.. 

Earn cred, share a bit.

2 Comments + Add Comment

  • Kelly, this is the strangest thing I’ve ever heard of. Congratulations.

  • this is so amazing, I’ll let you know how it works for me. Also, I’m going to that museum, it looks incredible

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