The Finns have long been associated with magic. Sailors considered it bad luck to kill a Finn. The Norwegian kings forbade their citizens to travel to Finland to consult magicians. In the 16th and 17th centuries, the Swedish government searched for and confiscated goudbas, the magic drums of the Lapp and Finn shamans. There have been many stories of Finns controlling the wind, something very useful for Vikings and sailors of all sorts. While Finnish magic includes ways to capture wind into knots for use later, the magic is based in shamanism, which Nelson describes as “the practice of using altered states of consciousness to influence the world and acquire power.” Finnish shamans made particular use of songs and chants and the phrase “to sing” someone meant to perform magic on them. Great importance was placed on knowing the right words for the songs and knowing the origin of a thing gave you power over it. Spirits were everywhere in nature and a shaman could gain knowledge by observation or by being taught, but the most useful method was by going into a trance. Shaman and magi are called “word-masters,” but knowing the words is not enough. The knowledge must be used by an act of will. To make this act of will take place, the mage must develop the disciplines of focus, practice, purification and trance work. One of the things which could be accomplished in a trance state was to communicate with haltija. The haltija is the spirit of a thing, whether it be a tree, a place, an object, etc. The haltija is not a spirit which can be separated from a host object, the haltija is more the spiritual essence of the object.

 

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Finnish Magic and the Old Gods

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