Saturday, 11 March 2017
The Trollskors-a Possible Origin
A symbol which I have given a lot of thought to over recent months is the trollkors or Trolls Cross which started to appear as an item of heathen jewellery in the 1990s. Not a great deal of information is available in the English language about this intriguing symbol so I have had to do a bit of digging, relying in part on my very rudimentary knowledge of Swedish.
The received wisdom is that whilst this symbol 'dates back to ancient times' it was created or rather reintroduced by a Swedish blacksmith in 1993, Kari Erlands from western Dalarna in Sweden who copied the symbol from a protective rune like inscription found in her parents' farmhouse. Either she created it or it is an ancient symbol: it cannot be both! Now I have no reason at all to doubt that she did indeed start making Troll Crosses based on the aforesaid inscription and if this is the case then it cannot be said that she invented the symbol for it was thus already in existence but rather introduced or reintroduced it as a piece of jewellery.
Many people have noticed that the Troll Cross appears to be loosely based upon the Othala rune. Some have commented that it cannot be based upon this rune as it was not known in pre-xtian Scandinavia and does not feature in the Younger Futhark but they neglect to point out that this Futhark was not introduced until the 9th century and was in fact based upon the Elder Futhark which DID contain this rune! So if the Troll Cross does have any real antiquity I would have thought that it would have predated the Younger Futhark and may indeed be based upon the Elder Futhark.
As an item of heathen contemporary jeweller it is quite ubiquitous, usually forged from iron or steel although I have noticed that it is now also being mass produced in Asia out of 'zinc alloy' and thus it is anyone's guess what metals have been alloyed to produce this! Mass production of an allegedly sacred symbol goes against one of the reasons for its existence. It is allegedly a protective symbol, worn as an amulet to ward off evil and negative forces, personified as 'trolls'.
Iron was recognised by our ancestors as having a sacred quality. It has a strong association with the Thunder God. Thor's second hammer was made from iron, possibly meteorite iron whilst His first one was constructed from stone which is of course the mother of iron. Meteorites had a divine origin according to our ancestors. Iron axes or axe amulets, horseshoes, nails and knives were frequently used as a means of supernatural protection. Meteorite iron in particular was used for the formation of sacred tools in many cultures and iron Thors Hammers were very common as amulets.
Whether the Trolls Cross is ancient or not if it is smithed from iron or steel then it does have protective abilities and the rune like shape will also confer additional virtue to the amulet. It is vital though that it is constructed from iron or steel which is of course an alloy primarily of iron and carbon. It is pointless to purchase or make a Trolls Cross from any other metal whether it be silver, copper, brass, bronze or 'zinc alloy'. It is also vital that the amulet is hand forged and not machine produced otherwise it is little more than a curious piece of bodily adornment.
What is not well known outside of the academic world, particularly outside of Scandinavia is that the trollskors design HAS been present in antiquity in Scandinavia and whilst it may have become popularised during the 1990s it IS an authentic symbol. At some point, more than 10 years ago a couple of iron 'rattles' were unearthed, called ranglestav which bear an uncanny resemblance to the trollskors and this is perhaps how the amulet came into being.
In addition to the use of iron our ancestors believed that by making a loud noise they could drive away evil spirits and malignant forces and it is likely that ranglestav were used to cleanse an area prior to the carrying out of a sacred blot. The use of iron rattles for these purposes can be found in other cultures apart from the Germanic and is particularly associated with shamanic cultures and of course this may be found in the far north of Europe and Asia.