Man-Beast Week: Trolls, Tommyknockers, and Gargoyles

On Man-Beast Week, we now move into the more mythical man-beasts that have endeared themselves to our culture over the centuries. The first is the troll. This supernatural being is part of Norse legends. Said to dwell inside of mountains, caves and rocks, they supposedly hate sunlight. The stories even say that trolls turn to stone when sunlight hits them. Descriptions of them vary from ugly, bulky, short, slow-witted, and other regions might say they are more human-like. Over time, it's been an understanding that trolls were to represent to the culture an elemental being of nature, somewhat like what fairies are to other countries. There are legends of trolls being terrified of lightning, of tearing down churches as they are being built, and groupings of stones being attributed to trolls who stayed out in the sunlight too long. The modern movie (one of my favs) that best captures the setting and culture of troll legends is "Troll Hunter."

This mythical creature is of Welsh/Cornish origins. Said to be 2 feet tall, unshaven, and wearing miner's garb, they are associated with the worst situation - a cave-in. Miners created the story when they noticed knocking that occurred before cave-ins. Some believed it was a warning to get the miners out, others believed their knocking created the cave-in. Miners who lost tools often blamed it on the Knockers. For such a very risky occupation, superstition and explanations for loses and danger took the form of these mischievous beings.

Gargoyles are seen carved into many older structures.  They are believed to have originally been a device to divert rainwater from running into the building.  The sculptures became quite the rage on buildings and took on a popular belief they protected a building. They were said to scare evil away from churches. Even though they are no longer the rage on houses, they are extremely popular in gothic decorating and Halloween sets.

This is my personal favorite gargoyle representation in entertainment, a 1972 movie entitled "Gargoyles."