Cunning man Pekka Hämäläinen from Salmi. A magic pouch hangs around his neck. Photo by Talvi Toivo, 1936. National Board of Antiquities. CC BY 4.0

Welcome to Archaeology of Folk Religion!

This blog follows research on material aspects of folk religion in Finland. The main focus is on a project that studies magical objects in museums in a long-term perspective (funded by the Academy of Finland). These objects include teeth and claws of bear, pig’s tusks, raven stones, “snake’s court stones”, ring branches, frogs in miniature coffins, and many more. The questions of the project concern how these objects have received their magical agency, how they have been used, and how the traditions have changed through time. Moreover, how do these traditions fit into a wider, European or even global, sphere? I hope you’ll join me for this journey!

Edit: I’m sorry that this blog has been neglected for a while! I hope to start updating again soon.

A bear claw used as a magic object. Finland’s National Museum. CC BY 4.0

Folk religion is the totality of all those views and practices of religion that exist among the people apart from and alongside the strictly theological and liturgical forms of the official religion. Don Yoder 1974


International Magic? Finnish Folk Magic Objects in a European Context. Temenos – Nordic Journal of Comparative Religion 57:2 (2021): 155–180.

Vital Scrap – The Agency of Objects and Materials in the Finnish 19th-century World View. In Entangled Beliefs and Rituals: Religion in Finland and Sápmi from Stone Age to Contemporary Times (MASF 8). Helsinki: The Archaeological Society of Finland (2020): 181–199.

The Materiality of Finnish Folk Magic – Objects in the Collections of the National Museum of Finland. Material Religion 14 (2018): 183–98.

‘For a witch cannot cross such a threshold!’ – Building concealment traditions in Finland c. 1200–1950. Archaeologia Medii Aevi Finlandiae XXIII. Turku: SKAS 2016.

Frogs in Miniature Coffins from Churches in Finland – Folk Magic in Christian Holy Places. Mirator 16 (2015): 192–220.

Finding folk religion – An archaeology of ‘strange’ behaviour. Folklore: Electronic Journal of Folklore 55 (2013): 99–124.