A rather quick drawing I did this morning of a troll and a jötunn.
Jötunns are usually translated to “giants” in English, but that wouldn’t be completely true. They were often huge, but could also be the same size as humans or smaller.
They were a race even older than the gods, and possessed great wisdom and knowledge. So much in fact, that the gods often went to them to learn new magic.
But they were also the “bad guys” of the old religion, though not to be compared with devils. A few of them helped the gods, and the trickster god Loki was a Jötunn himself (or at least part Jötunn).
But most of the time they symbolised chaos, darkness, death and the uncontrollable nature, and they had a reputation for eating humans.
When the Nordic countries were Christianised, the old gods and jötunns had to go. With the jötunns out of the way, the trolls took their place, which is especially evident in Norway where trolls are still huge man-eaters. Troll were around in the old religion, but they mainly served as hunting prey for the thunder god, Thor.
They were however said to be of the Jötunn family, so here a troll is meeting one from the “ancient race”.