Norwegian Double-headed Troll

2 Mar


Tsem Rinpoche sent me these pictures of a 9 inch statue of double-headed troll from Norway. He said it looks pretty realistic and went on to tell me a little bit about Norwegian folk beliefs in Trolls. Rinpoche said that the trolls that live in Norway can be scary, friendly, helpful, temperamental and so forth. They can get a bit nasty when their habitat in the forest is disturbed. I thought it was quite interesting and I decided to do a little googling to find out more about them and here’s what I found out about them…


Far to the North where the winter storms whip the weather-beaten coasts, you will find a long and narrow country (Norway). Here you see dark forests with moonlit lakes, deep fjords surrounded by mighty snowcapped mountains, and long rivers and cold streams cascading down the mountain sides.

Nowadays, this country is covered by snow and ice for only six months a year. A long, long time ago, however, there existed a massive glacier that brooded over the entire country for thousands of years.

As the climate gradually warmed and the glacier slowly retreated to the North, Man to the South of the glacier followed in its wake. Looking at this country and fishing it to be magnificent, they considered themselves to be its first inhabitants. People settled there and named it Norway. They called “nordmenn” (Man of the North).


It did not take them long, however, to realize that on this land there were various other creatures hiding out in the forests and mountain sides.

People did not know what these creatures were, but they came to be know as Trolls.

The Trolls would come out from their hiding-places only after sunset, and they would disappear before sunrise. Direct exposure to the sun would cause them to crack, turn into stone and possibly burst. On occasion the Trolls would evidently forget to hide from the sun, and rock formations can today be found in various places with troll like features.

The trolls were mostly seen on bright moonlit nights, or during nights, or during stormy nights that could frighten about anyone who happened to be outdoors at that time.

The trolls had very distinct features. They had long crooked noses and only four fingers and toes on each limb, and most of them had long bushy tails.

Some trolls were giants, and others were small. There were stories of two-headed as well as three-headed trolls, and even a few had only one eye in the middle of their wrinkled foreheads. Other giant ones had trees and rough moss-like growth all over their heads and noses.

Although they were shaggy, rough haired, and most looked frightening, they were also known to be good-natured and naive. So naive in fact that sly peasant boys could, on occasion, easily trick them. Stories about such encounters are common in fairy tales.

Most trolls lived to be hundreds of years old. However, because of the trolls extremely shy nature, their true origin, their lifestyle or what surprises they might pull has always been a mystery.

The wrath of the trolls was boundless. It was therefore considered very important not to make them your enemy. If a farmer did provoke a troll, his livestock might be subject to disease or harmful sickness, or worse things could happen. On the other hand, a good relationship with the trolls could be very rewarding.

Now, even in modern times it is well advised to keep a good standing with the trolls, since you never know when you will meet one yourself. The next time you go to dark forests and the mighty mountains with their deep lakes and roaring waterfalls, just remember, they probably mean you no harm. But be aware. In the twilight hours you are no longer alone. By then it is only you… and all the trolls.

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