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troll snake

The Great Bøygen - The Giant Troll Snake

This creature that is known from one locality in Norway but with connections to both Denmark and Sweden, is a giant troll in the shape of a snake. In Norway he is called Den store Bøygen i Atnedalen but also stortrollet or a ryse (rise = giant). The word bøyg means 'bent' and is related to the old folk-belief that giants can appear in the shape of giant snakes. In Gudbrandsdalen in Norway this story was related to Peer Gynt, a legendary hunter, well-known from Henrik Ibsen's play of the same name. Here is a short version of this story: Peer Gynt is trying to get to his hunter's cabin in the forest late at night, but stumbles into this big slithery thing that is both inside and outside the cabin so he loses direction. Every time he asks who it is it replies "I am the Bøyg". Finally Peer Gynt takes out his gun and shoots it three times in its head. Bøygen tells him to shoot once more, but Peer knows this must be a trick and that the bullet will just hit himself. With the help of his hounds Peer finally kills Bøygen.

A similar story is told from Denmark about the farmer from Helbøj who on his way out of church is prevented to leave by a giant snake who encourages the farmer to stab him, but the farmer is wise enough to know that he will commit a sin if he kills another creature inside a church.

Both stories indicate that trolls play tricks on humans and try to distract them, lead them on the wrong path, commit evil. In the old rural society before modern science, dangers could lurk anywhere. We may think of those ages as more peaceful and stressless, but the case may have been just the opposite.

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