The Burdensome Journey of Collecting Magic Objects

How did the magic objects end up in the museum collections? Most of these objects were collected in the late 19th and early 20th century. In this period, there was a huge effort to collect the “folk culture” of Finland to be preserved in archives and museums. Thus, researchers, students, schoolteachers, and other interested individuals… Continue reading The Burdensome Journey of Collecting Magic Objects

The Stoat – A “Furry Venomous Snake”

Among other animal remains, the magic object collections include a few heads or dried carcasses of stoats (Mustela erminea, Fin. kärppä). Where it is quite easy to understand the powerfulness of big predators, such as the bear, it may be a bit more puzzling why a stoat could be seen as useful in folk magic… Continue reading The Stoat – A “Furry Venomous Snake”

“Things That Have Not Seen the Sun”

"When pressing boils and abscesses, one should use the snout of a pig and a “thing that has not seen the sun” that grows under the bark of a birch: Sink away, foul-looking,The moon vanishes when waning,The sun when setting,Vanish even more than that,Where the moon is unknown,Where the bottom is unfamiliar.May the roots of… Continue reading “Things That Have Not Seen the Sun”

Raven Stones, Turnip Patches, and Guardian Snakes

A cunning person protects the turnip patch from thieves: After a new turnip patch was planted, ploughed, and fenced, the owner would summon a snake to guard it. If a thief would try to come into the patch, the guardian snake would attack. It would guard as long as the turnips were growing, until they… Continue reading Raven Stones, Turnip Patches, and Guardian Snakes

Healing with a Ringbranch

There is something special about naturally formed circles. In Finnish folk magic, this is visible in the magic objects called ringbranches (Fin. umpipuu). These are usually branches or roots of trees that have grown so that they form a circle. These objects have especially been used in healing practices. A healer would pour the ingredients… Continue reading Healing with a Ringbranch