Quest for the Mead of Poetry: Menstrual Symbolism in Icelandic Folk and Fairy Tales


Quest for the Mead of Poetry is a translation and interpretation of seven Icelandic tales that examine the tabooed menstrual flow of women.


Books stackQuest for the Mead of Poetry is a translation and interpretation of seven Icelandic tales. In search for the meaning of a dream in which she was given a silver necklace by a poet, the author happened upon the key to hidden layers of her ancestral heritage.  That key was Brísingamen, a legendary necklace that belonged to Freyja, goddess of love and fertility. Freyja’s necklace, she discovered, conceals in its name the union of the Sun and the Moon as seen in an eclipse, her red embers bleeding from under his coal black disk in a flaming necklace. It was a revelation that led her to understand that the tabooed menstrual flow of her ancestresses found expression in symbolic language.


“Only Hallfridur J. Ragnheidardottir with her wisdom, intelligence, knowledge and poetic talents could create a readable and intriguing look at menstruation as related to Icelandic Fairy Tales. Quest for the Mead of Poetry: Menstrual Symbolism in Icelandic Folk and Fairy Tales is a remarkable accomplishment. It adeptly weaves personal dreams, tarot, Jungian psychology (archetypes, symbolism, dream interpretation), and mythology, as well as her grown-up intimate associations to her childhood memories of fairy tales and to the telling of the collective experience of menstruation. Ragnheidardottir shares her personal story of being drawn to the topic in a powerful dream, as well as the worldwide view of woman’s fertility as seen in Icelandic folk and fairy tales. This is a significant work that opens new ways of looking at women and their fertile roles in life while deepening our understanding of ourselves and of human nature in general.”

-Justina Lasley, MA, founder and director of the Institute for Dream Studies, author of Wake Up to Your Dreams: Transform Your Relationships, Career, and Health While You Sleep


Quest for the Mead of Poetry: Menstrual Symbolism in Icelandic Folk and Fairy Tales joins the canon of works by writers such as the Brothers Grimm and Bruno Bettelheim in untangling the secret significance of folklore and fairy tales.  Its focus on the central yet often overlooked element of menstrual meaning within the stories is particularly valuable.  Every culture has its own unique way of interpreting the mysteries of the menstrual cycle, but few writers have taken up the task of decoding the nuances involved.  Ragnheidardottir has done so with insight.”

-David Linton, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, Marymount Manhattan College, member of the Board of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research (SMCR) and editor of its newsletter, “The Periodical”


“With intelligence, insight, scholarship, and passion, Hallfridur J. Ragnheidardottir goes deeply into a subject that—amazingly—has never been explored.  By focusing on her native Iceland’s particular tradition of fairy tales—many of which will be familiar through their counterparts in Grimms’ and elsewhere—she both sharpens her insights and allows her own life history to inform her arguments.  Quest for The Mead of Poetry is a valuable, even important work of scholarship and thought.  It is also a true delight to read.”

Rachel Pollack, author of The Child Eater

“Hallfridur J. Ragnheidardottir employs a wide knowledge of Icelandic folk tales as well as deep psychological understanding to create an intimate, intelligent book about feminine wounding and healing. The author is able to plumb the depths of her own personal emotional experience and, at the same, rise to a remarkable level of wisdom and insight.”

-Laurie Layton Schapira, RN, MSN, LP, Jungian Analyst and filmmaker in New York City, author of The Cassandra Complex: Living with Disbelief. A Modern Perspective on Hysteria.


Hallfridur J. Ragnheidardottir is a poet and a dreamworker with M.A. in Icelandic literature. In her master’s thesis she explored her mythological heritage through the lens of Jungian psychology. It was the beginning of an adventurous journey in search of her own music. In this book, she gives voice to her passion for myth, dreams, tarot and poetry.  From 1970 her life has been divided between New York and Reykjavik, where she and her husband have now settled. Their son, daughter-in-law and two grandsons live in New York, keeping alive the connection between the two cities.  She will be a speaker at the upcoming Snakes, Dragons, and Other Scaly Creatures Conference at the C. G. Jung Center of New York (click link below for more information).

Snakes, Dragons, and Other Scaly Creatures Conference

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