Our neighbour, the troll

Now that I’ve introduces the ghosts in the house next door to the east, I thought I ‘d write about our neighbour to the west, who is a troll. His name is Trond and you can just glimpse him when the fog and the morning sun meet in a certain manner.

The mountain you can see here is called Høgasyn, meaning high view, And the local legends say that a clan of trolls live here, headed by Trond. He is said to be so old that he has seen the forests around here wither away and grow back up seven times.

There is also a local story about how the clan of trolls would came down to one of the farms nearby to celebrate yule. The humanfolk living on the farm would then go away, leaving the house and land to the trolls. This tradition continued for ages, until one year, a visitor from out of town insisted on staying over the holidays. The trolls were so offended by this they refused to come back. There is probably a lot lost in this story, but that’s the gist of it.

So obviously, last yuletide, we cleaned the house, left food and drinks, and went away, leaving the house to whatever trolls might happen by and feel welcome. Our house is much smaller than your typical farmhouse, but I still hope they at least felt the welcome. At least we haven’t had any issues with them.

Trolls, of course, have an undeserved bad reputation, not helped by interned lingo. Very little positive has been said about trolls for the past few centuries, but it wasn’t always like this. When we today think of trolls as basically everything wrong and stupid, this idea of the troll was very likely introduced with industrialism. The modern idea of the troll was largely created around the late 1800s, right at the start of the industrial era. This was when Asbjørnsen&Moe gathered and heavily edited their Norwegian folk tales, Illustrated by Theodor Kittelsen, who also made a number of advertisements for Norsk Hydro, one of the main power and aluminium companies.

Trolls are representatives and protectors of the deepest, strongest parts of nature, the old mountains, the deep forests, the wild rivers and waterfalls. And with industrialism, the protectors of these things became the enemies of humans. In the stories, trolls were presented as keepers of hidden treasures in the mountains, treasures that the human heroes had to extract by any means necessary. Outside the stories, mountains were turned into mines, rivers poisoned and dammed, forests chopped down, all in the name of the good fight of progress. Anyone in the way were portrayed as malignant, dumb, clumsy, set in their ways and remnants of a time gone by, who had to be cleared off to make room for the new and bright and shiny. Large parts of the environmentalist movement still face this kind of criticism by large companies and investors.

The idea of the troll itself likely has roots in the jotner from Norse mythology. These are, in a Christian world view, usually seen as the enemies of gods and humans, and sources of evil. But even looking at the Christian sources from the time of the myths, it wasn’t all that clear cut as we interpret it now. This is a far too large a theme to get into in this post, but as circumstances would have it, we’re actually living in one of the jotuns at the moment. The whole area, Aurdal, is named after Aurvandil, one of the jotuns. And he is very much present. I’ll tell you about him next week.

Strange travels!