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"At Trollkyrka, in amongst the ghosts of pines, men and spirits dance. At Trollkyrka, in old Tiveden, a garrott about my throat." Scrawl on a bathroom wall.

Basic Information

Few venture into the ancient Swedish forests of Tiveden; only brave or foolhardy logging teams dare to cut down trees around the outskirts. The woods are too dense, and too dark - and the snow may conceal a hidden, half-frozen bog. And then there are the Old Folk who dwell within. It is not so much a fear of paganism - many traders will happily flog Nordic gewgaws as luck-charms, and there are those in towns or villages who will, in half-seriousness, make a small animal sacrifice for the good of their harvest or trade. But the reputation of Trollkyrka is an unsavoury one. Some speak of human sacrifices, victims strangled to death in the bogs of Tiveden; others of wild, drug-fuelled bacchanals on the mount amongst the pines. And the reputation of the settlement in the twisted woods is not helped by their habit of attacking loggers encroaching on their territory, leaving grotesque beasts' decapitated heads upon poles, sabotaging sleds in the night...

The inhabitants of Trollkyrka are, however, courteous and welcoming to guests who brave the dark and lonely forests without violent intent; a traveller will be greeted with a 'feast' and a dancing ritual, which does indeed involve the use of hallucinogens to invoke the spirits. Even an open-minded traveller, however, might be shocked by the occasional impromptu ceremony in which a female tribe member, at the height of the blot, is possessed by the 'goddess', and submits herself to be ritually throttled by a young man she chooses - the 'god'. The Old Folk do not, of course, take kindly to a wanderer who disrupts the event.

The Ancestors' Wives, seven women - each one chosen by the 'gods' from the women of the tribe - control Trollkyrka. Each of them, known only by their number, has their own role to play, in ascending order of importance. Seven oversees the most important religious ceremonies and appeals directly to the gods, Six makes legal rulings and settles disputes, Five distributes food and water and organises hunting (sometimes nominally, but often leading the hunts herself), Four is in charge of minor religious rituals, such as animal sacrifices at the start of a new family enterprise, Three provides the tribe with medicine and hallucinogens, Two educates the children, and One overses the division of labour. Each Wife is attended by a handmaiden or two - usually these are intended to succeed their patrons. For obvious reasons, these positions are highly sought after, and Wives have been known to accept 'gifts' from families with the implicit understanding that a daughter should be taken under their wing.

Those who commit crimes against Trollkyrka may be executed, or otherwise exiled - stripped of their name, they are given a new, shameful title, 'Treacherous', 'Bitch', 'Fucker', and sent out into the wilds. Some take their own lives; others make a living in settlements as soothsayers or bodyguards, trading on the faction's dark reputation.

The tribe has endured, up until now, through its undoubting immersion in the Old Ways - living rough, and living wild. Infrequently, when medicine is required, a group of young men will be sent out of Tiveden to attempt to barter supplies. Sometimes they never return. With the advent of a harsh winter, the Trollkyrka numbers are dwindling.


Because some of the Nordic pagan stuff's just too cool not to be included. Also a chance to explore paganism through neo-paganism, the darker side of 'a return to nature', tribal loyalty and beliefs - I was playing off the relationship between Amazonian loggers and tribes there as well.

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