Well, forget the tourist pamphlets, that collect old folktales from the 19th century. Those were created in an attempt to sort out folk stories from the many traditions of Icelandic settlers. Truth is, there are no trolls, not as a non-human, humanoid species.
There is, however, a human ability to centre landscapes in human form. It is this centring, this inseparability from place, that you will find in Iceland, if you wander there outside of books. The secret of trolls is the secret of recognition, because they are the same thing. Many Icelanders today look to New York or London for their mirrors. Not all. You don’t have to, either. A troll is where you find it. You are where you find yourself. Now, recognizing yourself when you see it, ah, now that’s a trick.
Dwarf city in the West Fjords…
Frost spirits at the Glacial Lagoon, in the South …
A buried elf city in þingvellir.
The patterning is consistent. This is flocking, the rubbing of loose knots of fabric out of a woven cloth. Sheep, birds and cheese follow the same energy to come together in groups, and clots, as does, yes, blood. Yes, you’re looking at blood, not the red stuff in your veins so much as something more general, part of an old conception of spirit that predates Iceland by untold millennia and is remembered there as a living world.
The principle is universal. Where today’s civilization, the civilization of “nature” sees one form of energy, the old one is scarcely hidden, a kind of edge effect…
… a kind of way of seeing transformation rather than durability.
We call that life.