Tag Archives: trolls

Of Elves and Sheep in Iceland

 

Ever wondered if there are elves who herd sheep? No point asking the elves. They’re not talking.

Elves at Home in Helissandur

Should we ask the sheep? This guy’s at Hraunhafnartangi.

Does he look like elves are moving him from field to field? No. No point asking the trolls, who do herd sheep. Their languages are too slow.

And horses, that appear mysteriously wherever you stop, and, surely, are hanging around with elves, being out there day and night and all, and elfishly mysterious, should we ask them?

Maybe not. The horses at Eiðar below are grazing on an elf city, of all things, and what are they doing? Sneaking grass from the ditch.

I mean, the elves are definitely herding grass and purslane, such as at ValÞjofsstaðir below.

And the moss that covers the lava fields radiates elfishness.

But the elves? Such as this bunch at ? Are they herding sheep?

Oh. Yeah. They are.

But, of course, the question is, really, do they heard living sheep? That humans have to romp after to collect? Well, kind of. Even the trolls, such as this dark and light pair at Klausturhamrar, send sheep on their way to left and right.

And the elf city at Álfaborg…

… leads sheep, and people both, in quite specific ways.

Do sheep see elves and take commands from them, though? Why not. Humans do.

It’s just that these commands are not the same as walking across the grass to pasture. Elves aren’t safe like that.  They lead you out of your own mind.

They can keep you on the path or lead you off it, such as at Fagurhóll, in the images above and below.

What do the sheep follow?

We might as well call it elves.

 

Trolls and Troll Sheep in Iceland

A trained eye will see trolls In Iceland by looking past the rock. A world of appearances is a world of doors. The country is a folktale. That is not a metaphor.

Some trolls, such as the one at Kirkjubærjarklaustur below, are less retiring, but look more closely. More trolls appear the longer you look.

Here too, to the east, along the South Coast.

And farther to the east. Here you can clearly see the bones from a previous troll meal, that have been tossed below them. Folklore holds that when the sun comes up, trolls are turned into stone. No, that’s not it. They are still there, behind the appearances, which is to say, in the darkness, behind the light.

And yes, trolls keep troll sheep, such as the one below at Dimmuborgir.

The one below at Skriðuklaustur may not appear to do so at first …

… but do turn around. Ah, there they are.

Here’s one at Litlafoss, carrying a sheep on its back.

Are these really “trolls” and “troll sheep”? Well, are the meanings of these words really “things”? We live in a world of appearances, and use language to navigate between them, but the appearances are separate from the language.

To date, there is no other language for these appearances, such as here at Stekkalækur:

And calling this view of the troll environment at Litlafoss geology doesn’t help much, except to produce awe, which is to say, to drive you away, when you might need to learn how to get close.

Truth is, volcanic rock breaks in patterns that matches the patterning of the human mind. This is our environment. The alternative would be to call the appearances an error, which is just too tidy and elitist.

Behaviour like that is enough to make you imagine cartoon trolls …

… above a waterfall full of real ones.

Fossatún

That is a betrayal of the appearances. It makes the world safe. It isn’t.

Stekkalækur

If not honoured, trolls prey on us.

The Love Story of Gulfoss, the Golden Falls

The manly trolls of Gulfoss…

 

… and the worms (um, gold collecting dragons, you know the type) of Gulfoss…

…  the Golden Falls …

… look across to the female trolls across the gorge, which are riding a worm…

.. and if the worm has the head of a ram, well, this is Iceland, after all.

And the flag … this flag:

… flies between them.

So now you know, too.

 

100 Years of Trolls

When you’re in Iceland, it’s good to get off the beaten track. No tour guide will lead you to this troll at Skriðuklaustur.

Or this one. If people laugh about your troll finds, does that really matter?

You might even find an entire troll narrative. What does it matter if there are no physical entities called trolls?

You can find pictures of those things in bookshops, for children, without an explanation of the politics behind them. What is that politics? Guess.

Contemporary ecology is based on stories of trolls from Norway in the 1920s. I think it’s possible that ecology in the 2120s will be based on stories of trolls found today.

 

Looking for Trolls in Iceland

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.

Skriðuklaustur

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.