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Nordic Trolls

Trolls in the Nordic Folklore

JOHN BAUER 1915

Halloween is coming up, and even though it is not that celebrated in the Nordic countries (Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Iceland) it is something we cannot ignore in this day and age. So, my contribution to this month of creatures and mysteries is trolls. The Nordic kind.

 A little bit about them

Most trolls running around in the Nordic forests do not look especially strange. Many of them even look human! But there is always something strange about them. They might be hollow from the back or have a tail. They might be too big or too small. You basically cannot say that this is what a troll looks like.

Their behaviour is as diverse as their looks. There are many stories about changelings, children being changed for troll children. Grown-ups could also be taken and spend years in the mountain halls. When they came back tie didn’t make sense. Imagine having been away for a day but 100 years had passed! But trolls were also helpful and great blacksmiths and musicians. And if you wanted help they could offer, but you had to do exactly what they said (otherwise it could go really badly). Also, if you helped a troll it would pay you back tenfold!

Fun fact: The saying “Speak of the Devil” in Swedish is “När man talar om trollen”, which translates to “When speaking of the trolls”.

The trolls roaming around today

The oldest stories known about are from the 10th century (written down on the 13th century) and trolls have changed a lot since then. Just think about the three trolls in The Hobbit (J.R.R. Tolkien). They are big and kind of stupid. Instead the scary monsters that steal children are aliens.

So, trolls around the world have been reduced to stupid beings that often are more humorous than scary. However, in Norway the trolls are still following the old traditions quite close. Take a look at the film Trollhunter (2010) and you will know what I’m talking about.

I wish you all a Happy Halloween! And let’s hope you are not visited by the trolls of old.

Cassiopeia

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12 thoughts on “Nordic Trolls”

  1. this is awesome. i write fantasy novels and there are obviously lots of creatures, good and evil throughout. i sometimes read into lore, modern and ancient to find different views on creatures like trolls or, from my novel; vetala. i like this a lot, thank you for sharing!

    Like

  2. It’s very interesting to hear that trolls were known for their skills at smithing and music. There’s always something richer about a mythical creature that has pros and cons. Even the image of a group of trolls merrily playing and dancing to music is a nice one to imagine, makes them less of a caricature.
    Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A very cool look at trolls, especially the glimpse into Nordic trolls. I’m fascinated by a good deal of Nordic folklore, so this post resonated with me. Love that pic at the top too. Gorgeous!

    Liked by 1 person

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