The European badger (Meles meles) is a nocturnal animal. (Photo by BadgerHero - CC BY-SA 3.0) One of the magic objects in the collection of the National Museum of Finland is the foot of a badger (Meles meles; Fin. mäyrä). It belonged to the cunning man Juho Sarkkinen in Tohmajärvi and came to the museum… Continue reading What’s special about the badger?
"When building a cowshed, or also when it is already built, a hole is drilled into the threshold and the head cut off of a living snake is put inside; the hole is then plugged with a rowan wood plug. Then envious eyes cannot harm the cattle and luck is ensured" (SKMT IV, 1: I… Continue reading Snake-medicine and Envious Eyes
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
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”
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… Continue reading Pigs and the Power of Earth
The magic objects collection of Vapriikki in Tampere include one cowbell that came to the museum from Rautalampi in 1909. The catalogue tells of this object: Has been used as a magic object. A handful of salt is poured through the loop of its tab and every grain of salt must pass through the loop.… Continue reading Cattle Magic with Cowbell and Salt
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
The collection of the National Museum of Finland include many parts of animal bodies that have been used as magic objects. The most common species of animal in this respect is the brown bear (Ursus arctos). It is the only native species of bear in Finland. The bear has a special place in the mythology… Continue reading The Power of the Bear