The Pre And Proto Historic Finns, Both Eastern And Western, With The Magic Songs Of The West Finns by John Abercromby
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
You might find it laughable that I found this book in a collection on Witchcraft and Magic. The only part of the book that really discussed magic and religion was at the end. Now if you are big on anthropology and archaeology then this book might have something for you. It is a bit dated I believe.
The first part of the book addresses the unity of the Eastern and Western Finns. There is a discussion of the different Finnish groups like the Mordvins and their relations to their neighbor like the Teutron, Lapps and even Turish and Iranian tribes.
THe book renders a thorough discussion on skulltuypes, habits, tools and customs of the Finns. A bit dry and boring for me. Some of the customs included buying a wife or abducting here if the price was too high. THe husband could also live with the wife's family if he could not pay off the bride price all at once. There was no rule against polygamy and a sun could inherit his fathers wives.
The Finns came from somewhere in Asia and by and large they were forest dwellers. THey were quite primitive until they came in contact with Iranians traders who taught them how to farm honey from bees and get fur from animals. Their religion underwent a radical transformation after they came into contact with Turksih tribesman who taught them about fasting, religious purity and monotheism. ALthoughnthe Finnish religion was by and large Christianity albeit after quite a late date. THey were also civilized under the tutelage of trhe slavs.
Magic for the Finns did not consist of spell craft and intricate ceremonies but rather it consisted of a Shaman contacting the spirit world and finding out why someone was afflicted with an illness or experiencing misfortune . There were healing works for many affliction.
SHamans were , as described by the authors and the research they explored , as somewhat eccentric characters prone to strange behaviors and even eplictic fits. THe position was handed down from father to son. To be a good Shaman one had to be a good mimic. But how was someone magically ordained. Well some say that milk was fed to a child that was stolen from the underworld. Other say the baby was washed on a rock with water stolen from the underworld . Or a baby could be held in the lap of a sorceress from Lappland.
THe ancient Fins had a variety of Gods. Ukko was the sky god. Usually aloof called on only in emergencies and was not offered regular sacrifices. Illmarien was another version of the sky god but he had a smiths anvil and hammer and from him would come sparkes that gave mankind fire and lightning. Vainomen was a god of magic and song. Most finnish magic was in fact song driven. Tapio was the forest god. THE forest god had a beard of moss and would protect livestock and help the hunters with game. It was not good to encounter him in the forest. He had a wife who depending on her mood could be a lady of light and a fiend of darkness. It is believed that she had a hollow bloodless back. THe Lempos were devious forest spirits that tried to mislead travelers. Elves could come out of water and grow really fast. Brownies cam out and helped under certain condition and giants were just plain mean. Water spirts would kill you.
The Ancient Finns believed in propitiating spirits that were closest to you as they would be most helpful. The Gods especially the sky gods were not so helpful due to their distance away from humanity. Usually familiars or family guardian spirits were offered such things as blood smeared fat, food, salt and groat.
When someone died their spirit lived for 4 years until the body finally decayed. THE sky god had three wives the most well was mother Mother Kave who could be called on to help in cases of illness .
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