Thursday, August 5, 2010

On trolls

As you might recall, I've been away on vacation for a few days. I explained how I visited the Jotunheimen mountains. What I perhaps forgot to mention, was that this “family holiday” actually was an expedition to locate the remaining specimens of some of Norway’s most mythologized creatures: the trolls.

The main population of trolls today lives in the Northern parts of Europe, most notably in Norway. There are more than 2500 species of trolls in the Scandinavian countries, 2000 of which are native to Norway. Of these, the most prominent ones are the Common Norwegian Forest Troll, the Norwegian Forest Dwarf Troll, the Sea Troll (Draugen), the Bearded Bottleneck Troll and the Obnoxious Norwegian Mountain Troll.

Meeting trolls is never free of danger, but we had prepared well. We brought several mechanical toys, a whole set of flashlights with extra batteries, and a copy of The Da Vinci Code.

Trolls are extremely dangerous creatures. While they might be tricked by riddles, logical paradoxes and faulty prose, it is safest to rely on physical means of defense. Sunlight is, as should be common knowledge, lethal to trolls. Because of this they only venture outside their caves in darkness or during extremely rainy days. Should they be encountered under such circumstances, or even in one of their caves, it is useful to know that trolls are also easily blinded by artificial light (even a simple flashlight will do). Be aware that this will only cause temporary blindness, and as soon as the troll regains full usage of its eyes (or eye, as the case is with the One Eyed Rural Dwelling Troll and the Kykloptical Klutter Klinger Troll) it will chase the subject it most likely believed caused the blindness. Thus another trick is to bring decoys in the shape of model airplanes or other objects that can direct the attention away from yourself.

You should not, under any circumstance, attempt to outrun a troll; or (this should not even be in the book as it is self-evident) engage it in combat. You will lose. (With the possible exception of man-to-troll combats with the Procrastinating Fickle-Flogger Troll. Due to its size and extreme strength it would crush you in an instant, but it will most likely put it off until you can make your escape.)

As we approached the mountains, it was nerve-wracking to say the least to scout towards the skyline to try to make out if any of the mountains were moving. We never drove very close, as this is haphazard to say the least.

Since the Jotunheimen is one of the last natural habitats for the trolls, there are any number of regulations for how the area can be traversed. However, most of the regulations are intended to ensure human safety rather than the survival of the trolls. Caravans are mostly forbidden, since trolls occasionally mistake them for lunchboxes. Paragliding is discouraged, but not forbidden (it would only make it more attractive for the extremists), though tourists and locals alike should be aware of the dangers involved in flying around looking like troll-sized butterflies. Trolls do not like butterflies.

The best way to access a troll bound area is by foot, as this will allow the best possible escape. Humans are tiny compared to most types of trolls, while cars are easy to pick up. Finally, your attire can be what saves your life. Most trolls are trained to identify creatures that are meant to blend into the scenery (as they are highly efficient hunters for wild animals and the occasional sheep), while colours such as hot pink or bright green that isn’t part of the natural colour scheme of their habitat actually are more difficult for them to distinguish. In general, trolls often have relatively poor eyesight, but their sense of smell more than compensates for this. They can smell “Christian blood” (the preferred troll term for “human”) up to twenty miles away.

In the end, we never got to see any trolls. A pity, perhaps, but a part of me is relieved. After all, these are extremely dangerous creatures, and it really is quite foolish to try to seek them out. But, it’s a family tradition. Fortunately this time we came home safely – who knows if we will the next time?

All the excerpts in this text are from Professor Geirr Ådne Ørjesæther’s book, Trolls and their Relatives (not to be confused with the children’s book of the same title).


Marjorie said...

Mari, This post was extremely cute. My Mom had been telling me all kinds of funny stories about the troll legends there. She sent me a book full of troll stories, and a book on Norse myths. I read parts of them whenever I get the inclination. I know enough to say that Loki is my favorite god (he's the tricksy, trouble maker) and giants are annoying but provide an awesome diversion for bored gods (especially Thor) wasting time in Asgard.

I don't know why but I think Trolls might find humans tasty. Tell me if I'm wrong on that. Perhaps I need to do more reading. I find this all very amusing though.

Lynda Young said...

Lol, awesome post.
I met a troll once... I banned it's isp and never saw it again... ;)

Nicole MacDonald said... dad used to pretend to be a troll when my brother and I went over bridges (he'd be hiding underneath) nearly scared the cr@p outta us the first time ;p

welcome to my world of poetry said...

Wonderful post Cruella, pleased you had a good time.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Hope you see trolls next time!

Anonymous said...

A fun post today. I've known a few trolls in my life. You can appease them with chocolate. Or beer.

Stephen Tremp

February Grace said...

I think corralled all of the trolls that are left to put them in the Norway pavilion at Epcot! :D


M.J. Nicholls said...

This comment will be an anticlimax, since it does not say anything clever or pithy about the content. Look how I am dancing around the topic! What topic? What topic? Exactly! Ha-ha-ha! On... what? On what...? Ha-ha-ha!

Cruella Collett said...

Marjorie - so glad you're into trolls, especially since I knew you had some more stories about them coming your way ;) (Tell your mom thanks from me, please!) And I think you're right - humans raw, cooked or fried is considered something of a troll delicatesse!

Lynda - the best way to handle them!

Nicole - haha, the terrible troll dad, huh? My nephews love when I try to scare them..

Yvonne - thank you :)

Alex - or maybe some have snuck into my pictures once I get a look at those?

Stephen - that is excellent advice! I might have to bring both next time ;)

Bru - tee hee - they might enjoy that. I never knew why Disney didn't make a troll movie...

M.J. - aniclimaxes are the best!
(I'm never questioning my on-ness again!)

Patricia Stoltey said...

I'm glad I scrolled back to see what I missed over the last couple of weeks. I love troll stories and have one book and a deck of cards with troll pictures that I purchased as souvenirs from my trip. I'm actually happy you didn't find any on your trek, because you might not have made it back to blog world in one piece. Excellent post.


Cruella Collett said...

Patricia - if I remember correctly you once mentioned you had some Norwegian blood in your veins, right? If so you might be as familiar with the troll stories as I am. They sure make for great souvenirs ;)

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