Pigs and the Power of Earth

In the previous post about wooden gnarls used for healing skin diseases, a folklore example also mentioned that healing could be done with the snout of a pig. The magic objects collection of Finland’s National Museum includes mostly parts of wild animals, but the domestic pig is one common exception to this rule. Parts of this animal that were useful are the tusks and the snout.

A pig’s snout that has been used in healing sudden pains in the Vapriikki Museum collections.

In addition to healing skin diseases, pigs’ snouts could be used in healing constipation in a similar imitative manner as the ringbranches described in an earlier post: milk or some other liquid was poured through the nostril holes in order to make it into potent medicine. Other mentioned uses are keeping a snout in the seed basket when sowing for good luck with the crops, and girls could keep one in the pocket to become more desirable.

In Finnish folk magic, the pig was connected with the power of earth. Especially the snout became “loaded” with this power, since the pig would burrow the earth with it. Since skin diseases were believed to originate from earth, the pig’s snout could be used to heal them according to the logic that like is cured with like. The connection with the power of earth is also evident when using the snout to ensure good crops. However, the connection between the pig and feminine beauty is not as easy to infer; it is likely that the earth’s fertility is what is sought for in this case.

The connection between pigs and earth becomes evident when observing the behaviour of these animals. Photo by Mark Peters from Baltimore, USA – Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary, CC BY 2.0.

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