Trolls are really quite magnificent beings. They are poorly depicted in a famous fairy tale that includes three goats. At least that’s what I think. When you hear their story, you may agree.
In this story the troll is about three male goats who need to outwit a difficult troll to get over the bridge that leads to their feeding ground. And as with all tales there is a moral. This story’s moral is to not be greedy. Some believe if the troll had not been greedy, he’d have let the goats cross the bridge and feast as they wanted. Well maybe it was the goats who were greedy. After hearing more about trolls you might have a different view about the goats and trolls in this story.
Trolls are the caretakers of all sacred spaces. Every sacred space/place, including mountain ranges and even significant mountains, have a troll who is its caretaker. As a caretaker their position is that they are to do all possible in their power to keep the space sacred, a place of reverence and honor. It was not trolls who decided what holds the status of sacred space, rather the high wizards who appointed this status. Knowing such places often need guardianship, the wizards asked the trolls to hold the honored position as the guardians.
Sacred spaces/places include a wide variety of very different places. In modern times, generally sacred spaces include shrines, temples, and churches. They may include other places like the mountains, forests, spiritual lands, and other places of worship. What matters is that the space is a place of worship and reverence. It is a place that anchors the heart of a cultural group. For the Fae, it holds spiritual essence, value, and a part of emotional and mental health and wellbeing. The Fae’s sacred spaces/places are all nature- and landscaped-based.
In the true fairy tale, the troll was the keeper of one those spaces. It was a sacred place all could go to for respite and to replenish energy. Also, the land grew some of the finest and most nutritious, replenishing, and restorative grasses for several miles. However, the grasses were being over grazed and depleted of all energy and life. If this sacred land was not taken care of and allowed to replenish itself, it would have had nothing but dried dirt to offer any who went there.
Through fairy tales, trolls are not depicted as friendly beings. Legend describes them as large, thriving monsters with limited intellect who are strong and vicious, willing to eat parasites off others, unable to endure sunlight, and known to steal human maidens. Though initially seen as large beings, over time their size changed to being pictured as man-sized or smaller with magical abilities, so therefore able to transform themselves and alter prophecies. It was believed their dwellings were either in abandoned castles, in mountains, in mounds, under bridges, or near the sea.
Even early beliefs identified trolls as having different sub-species. The sub types of trolls included Cave-trolls, Hill-trolls, Mountain-trolls, Olog-hai, Snow-trolls, Stone-trolls, Troll-men and Half-trolls. They also became known as guardians of the garden. This seems to be because they were seen as frightening beings, rather than because of their skills with the land. No matter the role, all trolls were shown as strange characters that ranged from silly to scary. They were often pictured as fearful, not friendly or protectors. Much later, trolls became cute cartoon characters who were overly friendly and thrived in a community setting.
In fact, trolls are very humble creatures of habit, follow rules, and hold the land sacred. They don’t mind living alone, yet are willing to live in small groups. By nature they are not fond of living in large community settings. Living in large groups makes it harder to fulfill what they believe is their primary responsibility (to the land) and to do all that is necessary to keep land formation and sacred spaces thriving. Trolls are both tall and short. Generally their size is reflective of where they live. Tall trolls tend to live in mountainous places and short trolls live in or near flatter land places. Though this is a general tendency, it is not an absolute. Some common places for trolls to live include caves, hovels, within mountain, and tiny villages within or near mountain ranges. It’s not understood why, with their high regard for the land, trolls fear thunder. The thought is they’ve seen how heavy thunderstorms can negatively affect land and land masses.
Some female trolls, Huldra, can enchant with their song. And there is a tale that an expedition of brave men traveling to the Kjosfossen waterfall heard and recorded their song. Not all of them managed to return—the song of the Huldra is hard to resist.
The high wizards knew trolls, by nature, are loyal, honest beings who did prefer a more humble lifestyle. They do not mind isolation or living in very small groups. And most importantly, trolls have an extremely high regard for the land and land formations. To help them fulfill their purpose, the wizards assigned a troll to be guardians over every major mountain and mountain range. There are also trolls who guard sacred lands, including deserts, mounds, some plains, waterfalls, and even some ancient trees.
In veiled Earth, there was a very sacred land mass that had the richest, most nutrient-dense grass that would replenish the body and soul. It would help individuals to clear the mind, see possibilities, and gain significant understanding. This land was revered by all. However, the land was being over grazed and was rapidly loosening its sacred strength.
Who would ever think to abuse or misuse such valuable ground? Even though it was believed nothing could harm such hallowed ground and all would treat this land with reverence, this did not happen. When the land was loosing its value, becoming unable to replenish those who visited, the Wizard Council decided this land needed one to watch over it until it was deemed whole again. A very capable and compassionate troll was assigned the task to guard the land and allowed to live in the hovel beneath the bridge that led to the sacred land.
All went well until one day a trio of well-fed goats wanted to graze on the sacred grasses. The troll turned them away. The eldest believed it was their right to eat where they wanted. In plan, he sent the youngest brother to say he was lost and very hungry and in need of a meal. The troll debated, but in compassion he allowed the young goat to go eat, but asked that he eat no more than needed, as it was land in need of revitalization. The next day the middle brother went and said he lost his brother and hoped he passed by the troll. The troll allowed the middle brother to enter the land to find his brother. Neither left when asked by the troll to please leave so the land could heal. And of course, the eldest brother came and demanded to be granted entry to find his brothers. The troll, beginning to understand the ploy, refused him entry and suggested he call them to come to him. Then the elder threatened to fight the troll for entry. The troll struggled with what his decision should be. He did not want to have the younger brothers see their elder brother fight. In defeat, the troll allowed him entry and went to resign his position, believing he failed the Grand Wizards Council of the task they honored him with.
Some of the story heard by children is true. The troll was outwitted and could by some be seen as difficult. However, the three goat brothers were not as innocent as was told. What are your thoughts now? Trolls are such humble, great creatures and more complex than often believed. Maybe you will have a chance to see one next time you visit a sacred space/place.