Do you believe in magic? How about witches? There are a lot of things that happen in life that seem pretty magical, and sometimes, it's nice to believe in something other than the norm.
There are definitely some real deal witches out there, and a lot of them are supposedly Finnish. Finland is said to have had a pretty big population of witches during the period of the 1500s until the 1800s. In fact, in Finland, witches are part of a ritual before the Easter holiday and it sounds equal parts interesting and adorable. Children dress up like witches and go house to house, giving people chocolate eggs, which sounds like a hybrid of Easter and Halloween for sure.
Curious about what these witches looked like and what kind of magic they did? Us, too. So I rounded up 16 photos of Finnish witches and their magic rituals for us all to awe over.
16 Mirror, Mirror, On The Wall
What is that girl doing in this image? She's definitely holding a mirror and it seems like she can see something happening there. Well, that's because she can: she's "scrying" while using the mirror.
What is that scrying, you ask?
It sounds fancy and important, doesn't it? It's when you use an object that has a reflection and that allows you to predict or see into the future. This particular girl lived in the Finnish village of Paavola. It's pretty cool to imagine being able to see the future via a mirror. We could all use that, couldn't we? But maybe we would use our power for evil and not good and would only care if avocados are going to magically get cheaper in the future or something (although that would still be helpful).
15 A Spooky Sickness
These days, if we come down with a bad cold or get the flu, we figure that our best friend gave us their sickness or we picked something up on the subway. We don't think that a ghost made us sick.
Well, that's exactly what Finnish witches thought back in the day. This photo is of Otto Jääskeläinen and was snapped in 1927 in Maaninka. He was curing someone of a sickness that they believed had come from ghosts.
Maybe, the next time that we get sick, we should tell our friends that it was from a ghost. Okay, that probably won't go over that well. But it's pretty cool that this was how they thought back then. If any of us are horror movie buffs who love supernatural stories, we're totally into this.
14 Wise Woman
We always want people to think that we're smart, and for Finnish witches, being wise was actually a person's identity.
People were called wise women or wise men, depending on their gender (of course), and that's who this woman in the picture, taken in 1920, was. Her name was Eeva Maria Kurtti, she lived in Sodankylä, and she was also a healer and midwife. Even though we might think that so many things are modern, especially when it comes to medicine and doctors and all that jazz, this is proof that midwives have a rich history and the tradition has some of its roots in Finland.
I wonder what it looked like when she delivered a baby?! It must have truly been a sight to behold.
This is a picture of a woman who lived in Helsinki called Matrona Kyyrönen and she was in the middle of casting a spell. This photo was snapped in 1914, which seems like forever ago (because, well, it was).
What kind of spell do we think that she was casting? It looks pretty important and she looks really serious here. According to the magical world wide web, there were a few common magical spells that Finnish witches would cast. There was one called "Origin Spells" which could help if someone was bleeding or if someone was sick. Maybe that was this one? It would be pretty awesome to be able to cast a spell and heal someone from a sickness for sure. We can all get behind that.
12 Wise Man
Like the wise woman in a photo above, this guy was a wise man named Pekka Rissanen, and he lived in Maaninka. When this particular picture was taken in 1927, he was performing a magic ritual of a silver sacrifice in this body of water.
Why was he doing this? Well, people in Finland have always been very attached to nature, and they strongly believe in the power of the land and water. So it seems like that's why this wise man was sacrificing silver in this water. Maybe something happened after, or maybe it didn't, but it seems like believing that this was a good thing to do was half the battle. And to think that the rest of us just swim in water...
11 Cooking Up Something
This image is of a woman named Serafia Vehkamäki who was cooking up some medicine. She lived in Kyyjärvi and this photo was taken a bit later than some of the others on this list: in 1956.
Sure, we're used to buying our medicine at a drugstore or getting a prescription from our family doctor, but that's not the way that things were done by witches in Finland. Just like this woman, a lot of people would make their own medicine, and it definitely looks very primal and natural, if everyone followed her lead. Wonder what she was making? If they believed that you could get rid of an evil spirit — induced illness by a magical ritual, I can only imagine what their version of medicine was. It must have been so cool.
10 More Magic
What kind of spell do you think this is a photo of? Any guesses? Anyone?
Chances are, we're all kind of at a loss here because there's really no way to know what's happening here. It's just too specific to the world of Finnish witches, and it's not something that we learn about in school, which is a big shame when you think about it. Wouldn't it be so cool to learn about this community in history class? It would have definitely made me pay attention a lot more often. This photo is of a woman named Anni Rissanen who lived in Maaninka in the 1920s. Whatever spell she was working on, I hope that it was super successful, and I'm sure that it was. It really seems like these men and women knew what they were doing.
9 Cupping Candid
Okay, now cupping therapy is something that we have definitely heard of and is something that we still use today in the modern world. Does this mean that this therapy (and a lot of other things) have their origin from witchcraft?! Hmmm...
This woman, Hilda Leskinen, was doing some cupping therapy in 1927 in Maaninka. These days, cupping is used for a few different things, like if you're dealing with some major pain or your body is super inflamed. Some people like to get cupping done if they're tired and need to chill out, and others think of it as a massage. According to Webmd, cupping is "an ancient form of alternative medicine," so what do you know? It really is a ritual that started back in the day. So cool.
8 Until The Cows Come Home
This woman lived in Taivalkoski and this picture was taken in 1917. What was she doing in this image? Her cows were in the woods and she was channeling her magical powers to have them come home.
It's hard to see what exactly she was doing, but it seems like part of this magic was kneeling on the ground and staring at the earth or something. It seems like spells and magical rituals were used for really practical purposes back in the day, and if we were witches now, we would probably use our powers for something a lot less useful. Hey, it's not our fault. It's just a different time (and we don't live on the land or farm and need to get our cows back home, so there's that).
7 Healing Power
There are still people who call themselves healers (usually women) and it seems like there's definitely a rich, interesting tradition there. This is something else that it would be super cool to learn more about, especially in a classroom setting.
This particular healer was named Anni-Pulkki and she lived in Kontiolahti. This photo was taken in 1911. What is she holding? It looks like some human hair... but I'm not sure if that was actually the case. According to the Internet, healers also cast spells and performed magic rituals back in the day. Some of these things include cupping and saunas, which we have seen on this list as well, so it seems like the majority of Finnish witches could also technically be considered healers.
6 Another Wise Man
This photo is of a wise man who lived in Temmes, and this image was snapped in the year 1911.
So what did wise men do? Well, apparently wise men were basically male witches. We would probably call them wizards today (and you definitely would if you're a big time Harry Potter fan, which of course we all are, because that goes without saying). People would essentially hire wise men to help them with something, usually a problem, and that problem would be solved via magic rituals and spells and, well, witchcraft. It would be pretty amazing if we could hire wise men and women these days. Most of us would have a big use for them, don't you think? Being able to do that would be seriously helpful.
5 Sauna Day
That... doesn't exactly look like our modern-day version of a sauna. which is exactly what makes this photo so interesting and so cool.
This photo is of a masseuse named Liena who was giving a sauna-based massage in Iitti in 1927. Do we all think that this looks super painful and not that relaxing at all? Because it seems like the woman lying on the table (which looks like a bunch of chairs at the same time) is in a lot of pain and isn't having the best time. And the masseuse looks pretty serious... I'm not sure how it worked back then, but it seems like this was an ancient, makeshift sauna and the heat source was maybe just hot water in a bucket. Thankfully things have changed since then.
4 The Future Is Clear
Here's another wise woman, this one is named Miron-Aku, and she was also scrying, like that woman above.
This photo is different, though, since she's not using a mirror to see the future but, instead, is looking into a bowl of water. Many might not think that would work but it most likely did since, again, these people seemed to know what they were doing.
Since scrying only needs something that can reflect, a bowl of water would absolutely work. It would be incredible if we could try this today (and it would be even more amazing if it actually worked out). Do any of you want to try this? What do you think? It could be a cool thing to do with our friends. But that might bring up the question of whether we really want to see the future, and some of us might want to be surprised.
3 Wounded Man
In Finland, healers could be male or female, and this photo, taken in 1927, depicts a scene with a male healer and the man that he was helping. It definitely looks very intense, if you ask me.
This was Rotikko-Pekka, who was dealing with a wound. It's hard to see what exactly he was doing, but it seems like he had some branches or something and was healing the wound that way. This is probably not how the majority of us would deal with a wound these days, whether it was something small that we could fix at home or whether we headed to a hospital or clinic. But, again, it must have worked for them, and everyone has their beliefs and reasons for doing something and following a certain system.
2 Now That's Scary
Here's another case of a ghost making someone super sick. So, yeah, that happened a lot back then...
This woman, a grandma named Lasanen, was living in Taivalkoski and this photo was snapped in 1917. This looks like... a very intense thing. And that's an understatement. This woman was lying on a table made of wooden planks (or the floor, it's kind of hard to tell) and had her arms above her head and a very serious expression on her face. Lasanen had a serious look on her face, too, so this clearly this was not a time for joking around. Do you think that this worked? We can hope, right? It must have been pretty scary to deal with this since everyone definitely believed in spirits.
1 There Will Be Blood
Blood-letting is part of that whole alternative, ancient medicine thing, and this photo is an example of that. It was taken in Karunki in 1921.
At first glance, this looks almost... peaceful. In a really weird way. It looks like this guy is just getting some blood drawn, but it was so much more than that. Finnish people believed in blood-letting and it was done when someone was really sick. Sometimes it was done if someone thought that they might get sick so it was more of a precaution. Reportedly, this was a big deal and pretty common in Europe, but people stopped doing this when the 18th century turned into the 19th century. No doubt about it, this is spooky and scary and creeps us out, and we're so glad that this isn't a thing that is done today. Phew.