Long Continuums of Vernacular Belief in Finnish 17th-century Charms

Kallio, K. (Speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk


The oldest corpus of Finnish oral poems in so called Kalevala meter consists of almost 70 charms in 17th century court records. They represent the whole area of the contemporary Finland, with some examples from contemporary Sweden and Estonia. Most of the charms are composed in traditional oral Kalevala meter, but there are also texts in prose and rhythmic prose. The defendants were not willing to perform, and they had various reasons to give as short, Christian or distorted versions as possible. The length of these texts varies from some verses to 51 lines.

These texts set into long and versatile continuums of vernacular belief. Pre-Christian elements, medieval and early modern ecclesiastical formulas, vernacular Christianity, and 16th century Lutheran prayers mix into varying combinations. While the majority of these charms relate to healing, they also exemplify various cases of harmful magic and one instance of worshiping Ukko, the Pagan high god. Set together with the 18th–20th century folklore collections, these texts make the longest documented continuum of Finnic vernacular poetry and mythology.
Period5 Nov 2019
Held atGlossa - keskiajantutkimuksen seura, Finland
Degree of RecognitionInternational