The “Holiness” of Holed Stones

“One of the most widely-spread of popular superstitions is that relating to stones having a natural perforation. These are everywhere believed to be inimical to all kinds of witchcraft, but more especially are they reckoned as protectors against the much-dreaded yet ever-present Evil Eye.” The above citation is how Frederick Thomas Elworthy started his short… Continue reading The “Holiness” of Holed Stones

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

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

Snake’s Court Stones

The magic objects collections in Finnish museums include large amounts of small, roundish, water polished pebbles. These are often called “snake’s court stones” in the local tradition (Fin. käärmeenkäräjäkivet). According to folklore, vipers gathered in the spring to hold a court hearing. They needed to find and punish the viper that had bitten more people… Continue reading Snake’s Court Stones