World of Warcraft
Some scholars view voodoo as a type of animism, and to an extent that theory is true. The trolls’ religion takes a decidedly different dark bent than the shamanistic beliefs of the orcs and tauren, though. Trolls have a complex belief system involving malign spirits and their effect on the world, but no scholar has established what is truth and what is simply long-held belief. The Darkspear trolls come from a dark and bloodthirsty history of sacrifice, cannibalism and black magic. They consider spirits to be individuals much like living creatures. Spirits are greedy, hostile and dangerous. Trolls also believe their ancestors linger on as jealous spirits who miss the land of the living and require blood sacrifices to appease them. Trolls sacrifice and eat their enemies. They conduct these practices for two reasons. First, they believe the sacrifice of sentient creatures appeases malicious spirits. Second, they believe that after death, an enemy’s spirit can visit misfortune on its killer. By consuming the flesh of their enemies, trolls believe they can also consume their enemy’s spirit, or at least damage it enough to render it impotent.
The orcs’ influence tempers the Darkspear trolls’ spiritual beliefs. The trolls willingly support Thrall and the Horde, and they understand that their destructive rituals offend their allies. Under Thrall’s tutelage, the Darkspear trolls abandoned the sacrifice of sentient creatures and took up animal sacrifice instead. These trolls no longer eat their enemies, but practice other methods of trapping, injuring or destroying enemy spirits. These methods include witch doctor blessings, the burning of enemy hearts, drowning corpses and head-shrinking.
Witch doctors hold an important position in troll society. Trolls respect their witch doctors as the wisest and most powerful tribe members, and show them courtesy and deference. Trolls are superstitious. They see bad omens everywhere and rely on witch doctors to interpret and exorcise these omens. Witch doctors govern success or failure in battle almost more than the warriors do; trolls believe that a witch doctor who reads the portents correctly and conducts the proper rituals can guarantee success in any endeavor. Until Thrall’s involvement with the Darkspear trolls, only male trolls became witch doctors. Female trolls have since seen the equality other Horde women possess and crave their own emancipation. Despite their efforts, few female witch doctors exist, and those who attempt to take on the role of tribal witch doctor meet with much derision and resistance. Trolls call female witch doctors “zufli,” a corruption of the voodoo master prefix “zul.” “Zufli” is a derogatory term and literally means “baby witch,” but some females have taken on the title as a mark of pride.
Troll death rituals used to involve ritual mutilation of the body. The trolls believed that simulating the sacrifice of a corpse distracted nearby malign spirits. The spirits, drawn to the pretend sacrifice, would fail to notice the new spirit entering their world. This allowed the deceased’s spirit to pass more easily into the next world and find a place for itself without harassment. Now trolls avoid these rituals because the Horde finds them disturbing and the rituals evoke unpleasant associations with the Scourge. Trolls frown on cremation, as they believe the body provides the spirit with a tie to the mortal world, and to destroy it sets a spirit adrift and confused for eternity. Recently the trolls have taken to cutting the eyes out of a corpse, thus opening a path into the skull where the spirit resides. Often a witch doctor sacrifices an animal nearby to distract any hungry spirits; if the mourners have no time for such a ritual, they may instead cut their arms and let their blood spill to achieve the necessary distraction. To avoid the possibility of undeath, trolls either bury their comrades’ bodies in hidden places or in sections (usually the body in one place and the head in another).
Loa spirits are more powerful than the elementals, but not as powerful as gods. Supposedly, these spirits are mighty entities that grant the faithful extraordinary powers. By calling upon these voodoo spirits, the shadow hunter gains special blessings with which he can combat darkness and help those in need. The abilities granted vary according to the Loa the shadow hunter calls upon. Almost any being who has died and transcended death can be worshiped as a loa, including Forsaken shadow ascendants.
Supposedly, upon his death, an enemy’s spirit lingers in his body for a short time. Then the spirit flees the corpse and is free to wreak havoc and revenge on its killer. Troll witch doctors believe that a fallen enemy’s spirit lairs in the corpse’s head before fleeing the body. Trolls who wish to trap enemy spirits often turn to head-shrinking. To shrink a head, a troll first decapitates his fallen enemy. Then he makes a slit up the back of the head and carefully removes the skull (which he saves or discards). The troll then sews up the incision and boils the head for two hours to shrink. The troll uses scalding hot rocks and sand to fill the head cavity and shrink the head further. When the head is fistsized and rubbery, the troll sews up the eyes, mouth, and neck with elaborate stitching. The enemy spirit now remains trapped inside the head forever. Most members of the Horde look askance at the practice of head-shrinking, but consider it a step up from human sacrifice and cannibalism. Some trolls have techniques to shrink skulls as well, which involve removing key pieces and reconstructing the skull as a smaller version using animal parts and resins to hold it together.