In western Finland we have a long tradition of kids dressing up as Easter witches. Check out the video to learn the interesting history behinds this tradition.
If woman comb´s their hair in the evenings they never get married.
When the guy steps on the girl´s handkerchief and the girl continues using it, she remains single.
If a cat wants to sit in your lap you´ll never marry.
If cat only comes to you, you´ll never marry.
If young men and women are very found of cats, they´ll never marry.
If a bull is afraid of a girl, girl never marries.
If girl burns their bakings they never get married.
If the baker forgets the peel into the oven, ladies of the house never get married.
Weaver should not rest on Saturday, otherwise they remain single.
You should not sing in the sauna or you shall remain single.
Sauna has to be kept clean, otherwise ladies of the house will never marry.
If you pour cream first into the coffee and sugar after, you remain single.
If a single person drinks coffee in the corner of the table, they´ll never marry.
Burn an old broom stick and you´ll get married some day.
When you carry wood inside, throw one log over your shoulder and you won´t remain single.
If you want your single-friends to get married give them left-over pies.
When rowan trees are blooming it´s a sign of marriages.
When it rains and it´s sunny at the same time, singles are getting married.
If you collect all kinds of pretty things as a young girl (or a boy) you won´t get married.
Wear safety pins in your clothes and you´ll never marry.
When junipers pollunate, that is when singles get married.
If a young man comes for a visit and they sit in the rocking chair, they remain unmarried.
If man let´s a woman to help them to put their coat on, they´ll never marry.
If you have a break while swiping the floor and you rest for a moment, you won´t never get married.
If you take crackers first in the coffee table, you´ll remain single.
If your cat´s basket is cleaner than your house, you´ll remain single.
I hope you have great time guys where-ever you are and let me know if you want to hear more Finnish spells and crazy superstitions.
Source: Marjut Hjelt, Pieni Taikakirja
Flowers have always been powerful ingredients in folk magic and Finland is not an exception. Habit of picking flowers and putting them into a vase was not something that regular folk did but the custom spread from the manors. Instead flowers were turned into wreaths that were hanged above doors and windows to protect the cattle and prevent evil spirits from entering into the buildings. Most of these spells were performed during Summer Solstice.
For those of you who do not speak Finnish, Finnish language does not include prepositions (in, the, on) which can make my flower name translations sound bit strange for those who are not used to it. Postpositions are more common and they are often included in the words (ending -n). Compound words are also very common.
Kielo/Lily of the Valley
Element: water, air
Planet: Mercury, Moon
Lily of the valley protects the spell caster from the evil eye and keeps un-wanted suitors away. In the language of flowers Lily of the valley represent happiness and abundance. Be careful when picking them. Lily of the Valley is a poisonous (though very pretty) flower.
Finnish name of the flower kielo refers to the tongue-shaped leaves (kieli-tongue). Other nicknames for kielo are lehmänkieli (cow´s tongue), lehmänkielheinä (cow´s toungue hay), kieliheinä (tongue hay), koirankieli (dog´s toungue) and lehmänkielenkukka (cow´s tongue flower). Cows did not eat lilies because they were (and are) poisonous but cows were very important animals in the past and they were sacred animals of women.
Kielo/Lily of the Valley is Finland´s national flower.
Planets: Uranus, Moon
In Finnish hare bell/blue bell is known as kissankello the cat´s bell. According to the myth a group of mice were afraid of a cat who was always chasing them. They decided to buy a bell and hang it to the cat´s neck so that they would hear when the cat was approaching. But none of the mice was brave enough to hang the bell to the cat´s neck. A fairy heard mice arguing and agreed to buy the bell from them. Mice sold the bell to the fairy who took the bell into the forest and turned it into a blue flower. After that mice could hear ringing inside the flower each time when the cat was near. Blue bell represents loyalty. If you want a loyal partner and loyal friends you can use blue bells to attracting them.
Spells and superstitions:
If you want someone to fall in love with you, slide a blue bell into their pocket.
(Literal translation: Lumpeenkukka - flower of the pond).
If you wish to cast powerful spells pick waterlilies during the night of full moon. They are excellent for fertility and attracting love- spells.
Elements: Earth, water
Ground ivy possess positive energy that can be used for healing a broken heart. It´s a very protective plant. Keep ground-ivy leaves with you and you wont get lost into the Forest Blanket.
These flowers were commonly used in love spells and especially by women who wanted to get pregnant. Wood Cranesbill was used to get rid of ghosts and demons.
Spells and superstitions:
If you want someone to fall in love with you make tea from wood cranesbill and give it to the one you desire.
If someone has put a curse on you wrap wood cranesbill to the hand you use most often and you can prevent the curse.
Metsätähti/ Chickweed Wintergreen
Metsätähti means forest star and it is named after it´s star shaped flowers. Other names for it are aamutähti (morning star), iltatähti (evening star) and sammaltähti (mossy star). Since these flowers grow deep within the forest in Finnish folklore they attracts fairies and other forest folk. It is flower of magic and mystery and can be used in spells that increase creativity and imagination.
Flower is most magical late in the evening or very early in the morning. If you see forest spirits around them leave a sacrifice so that they know you are there with good intentions.
Element: Air, Water, Fire
Planet: Mercury, Venus
Wild minth is best for spell casting especially during summer solstice. According to folklore evil trolls are afraid of mint.
Finnish name of mäkikuisma (hill wort) refers to it´s growing place. It is an old witche´s plant and common plant of the summer solstice. It was used by shamans and witches in their spells and it protected the spell caster during the ritual. Now days St.John´s wort is endangered specie in Finland and should not be picked.
Spells and superstitions:
Put St.John´s wort under your pillow in the summer solstice and your future love appears in your dream.
Element: Water, Air
This flower is connected to the maiden aspect and is best suitable for spells performed by untouched young men and maidens. In the old times root of the Bladder Campion was used as soap to wash clothes.
Some wild flower violets in Finland are metsä-orvokki the forest violet and suo-orvokki the marsh violet. According to folklore especially wild violets attract fairies. It was believed that violet had magical abilities and it was connected to other realms (fairy realm?). Violet was the flower of the love sick and was used to attract true love. It provided protection from evil spirits.
Element(s): Fire, Water
Planet(s): Uranus, Mercury
Morning dew collected from red clovers can bring beauty and charm. Tea made from red clover can be used as love potion. Adding some red clovers into the sauna water was believed to bring wealth and money.
Spells and superstitions
Use a red clover as a boutonnier and all your business affairs go smoothly.
Take one of the petals and suck the mead from it. Kiss the one you love and they are eternally yours.
Planet(s): Venus, Moon
Daisies were often used in love spells and in romantic divination (loves me, loves me not...). Pregnant women used the same method to find out weather the child was a boy or a girl. Another romantic divination was to ask what was the profession of the future spouse (sailor, doctor, priest, blacksmith, tailor...). Since daisies were used a lot in divination all of it´s nicknames refer to that: ennustuskukka, arpakukka (divination flower), elänkuolenkukka (live die flower), juu ja ei (yes and no)...
Spells and superstitions:
Daisies that are picked on Summer solstice remove negative energy from home.
Marsh Marigold represents youth and beauty. If maiden washed their face in the morning of the summer solstice with milk that had marsh marigold leaves mixtured, they would remain beautiful for the rest of the summer.
Not very suitable for love magic because it might bring former lovers into your dreams (unless you want them back).
Planets: Saturn, Venus
Literal translation of ruiskaunokki is rye beauty. Rolling in a field filled with corn flowers was believed to attract beauty, youth, happiness and suitors. Corn flower is a weed that grows in corn fields (rye fields in Finland). Having these "weeds" growing was considered a good thing and people believed that they brought fertility to the soil and helped the rye grow.
Element(s): Fire, Air
Tormentil is a witche´s flower and the shape of it´s petals is connected to pentagram. It can be used for both protective magic and curses.
Add tormentils to your flower wreath, wear it in the night of the summer solstice and you can turn yourself invisible.
Elements: Air, Water
Fern (Finnish: saniainen, sananjalka) is loved by the fairies and the forest folk. Folk tale tells that once fern grew beautiful flowers but one day there was an old woman in the forest who wiped their but with fern flowers. This made ferns so upset that they refused to bloom during the day but only during midnight when it is so dark that no one can see their flowers. But if someone did saw fern flowers they became illusionist and they would learn the language of the birds. If one saw fern blooming in the night of the summer solstice they could find a treasure but only a brave person could do that because the treasure had to be dug up from the ground in the middle of the night when only light came from willow o wisps and the treasure was guarded by kratti, the treasure elf who would not give their treasures away just for anyone. Other Finnish name for fern is kuolleenkoura (fist of a death person). When the ferns rises from the ground in the spring the young leaves look like fists.
Belief that fern bloomed during the night of summer solstice was very popular so witches and shamans were very eager to get fern seeds to their hands. Finnish name of fern, sananjalka (literally means; stem of a word) got it´s name from a spell that was performed during summer solstice. In this spell when a person cut the stem of the fern they would see the initials of their future spouse in them.
Add fern leaves into a wreath, wear it and you can turn invisible.
Sleep with fern leaves under your pillow and you dream about the future. Sleep with fern root under your pillow and you can find solutions to your problems in your dream.
Finnish name of the Common Yarrow siankärsämö means pig´s snout. Origin story of the name is unknown but since common yarrow can be found in white and light pink..like baby pigs, that might explain the name. Sometimes yarrow was called as lavantautiheinä (typhoid hey) because it was used to heal typhoid patients. In folk magic yarrows were added into wreaths since they drew away demons and evil spirits. It was recommended to add pink yarrows into flower bouquets because they would attach love and romance.
Other names of the plant are connected to it´s usage. It was used to spice up beer and it was known as peltohumala, ketohumala (field intoxication, meadow intoxication). Yarrow was smoked as cigarette (tupakkikukka / cigarette flower). Sometimes names were connected to the growing place of the flower. It was also known as pellonvanhanen, pellonvanhin, pellonvanhus (oldest of the meadow) and pientarekukka (flower that grows next to the road).
Wrap yarrows inside pink flanel. Slide them under your pillow and you can dream about the future.
Dill is a protective herb. Carry dill with you and it protects you against evil spirits and jeallous witches. Dill is most powerful in the "old" Juhannus-night (24-25th June). It can also protect you against the mischievious forest spirits.
Valko-apila/ White Clover
White clover is a protective flower which drives away evil spirits. They can help you to find an honest spouse. If you dream about white clovers it means that love is coming your way.
Powerful witche´s plant and works best in the spells that are performed in the middle of the night. Connected to Alinen (the underworld). In folk magic fringed orchid can turn a cat into a dog, old into young and ugly to a beauty. In Christian folk tales flowers of the fringed orchic are connected to angels because the petals (according to some) look like angel wings. In (now day) Finland flower is protected in the whole country. Fringed orchid is especially famous from it´s enchanting scent.
Vanamo/ twinflower is a common flower in Finnish forests. According to folklore they attract fairies and forest spirits.
Bell-like flowers of Vanamo has given it nicknames like; harakankello (magpie´s bell) sirkunkello (singing bird´s bell).
Some people love and others hate it and call it a weed. Voikukka translates as butterflower and refers into the yellow color. Blowing dandelion seeds is a ritual when you can perform a wish. In the flower wreath dandelions represent optimism, happiness, determination and positivity. Other nicknames for dandelion are keltakukka (the yellow flower) and ohrakukka (barley flower) because it blooms around the time when barley is sown.
Valkovuokko the white anemone is a common flower of summer solstice because it´s blooming time is in the middle of June. Flower was used in love spells especially those who were looking for short-time relationships...it´s not nessecarily the best flower for someone looking for commitment. Now days White Anemone is protected flower in northern Finland and Lapland.
Vuokko has some lovely nicknames as well like suvenihanainen (most loveliest of the summer) keväänlempi (spring love) keväänesikoinen (first of the spring).
Magic of Summer
Juhannus the summer solstice is one of the most joyous holidays in Finland. Cities become empty when families and friends travel to the country side and to their summer cabins. From all the holidays Juhannus the summer solstice is the most pagan and the ancient customs of the holiday haven´t changed that much. For many summer solstice is magical time simply because the sun does not go down. This is the time when the sun is closest to the earth in the northern hemisphere.
Old pagan name for Juhannus was Ukon Vakat. It was a celebration to honor Ukko the thunder god. For thousands of years Finland was an agricultural society. God who brought the rain with him was naturally the most worshiped of all the gods. Name ukko literally means an old man but in the old days ukko was an honorary title given to a man who had reached old age. Finnish word for thunder ukkonen is derived from the name Ukko. He was the god of fertility, agriculture, community, luck, abundance, people, communication, thunder, lightnings, rain and the sky. In many cultures thunder gods are connected to warfare but Ukko was a very peaceful god. He was also god of love and relationships, fertility of the land and the fertility of the people.
Vakka means sacrifice. During ukon vakat food sacrifices were left for Ukko. These were usually bread, beer and grain. Ukon Vakat was a communial celebration where several groups of people gathered together to celebrate. Festivities usually took a place in a hill near water. Summer was the time when all four elements emerged together and the landscape where Ukon Vakat was celebrated reflected that. Celebration included good food, drinking, bonfires, music and dancing. Ukon Vakat was most often celebrated either during the Summer Solstice (20-22nd of June). In some villages Ukon Vakat was celebrated in the end of May or in the beginning of June if the weather was good.
Another Finnish name for Summer Solstice festival was Mittumaari which is derived from the Swedish Midsommar Fest -festival.
In the early Middle Ages the Catholic church wanted to get rid of Summer Solstice and other pagan celebrations. Name of the holiday was changed into Juhannus after Johannes Kastaja (John the Babtist). Johannes Kastaja already had his own celebration date in the old Finnish almanac. This date was 4th of June. The church ordered these two festivities to be emerged. New date was set to 24th of June which became new official date for Juhannus. This date remained the same all the way to 1950´s when the date was updated for the new Finnish almanac. It was decided that Juhannus would always take place in Saturday between 20-22nd of June. Celebration was returned back to it´s original place. In modern day Finland Juhannus is a national holiday. It is also officially a non-religious holiday (despite of it´s name). For most Finns Juhannus is a long weekend which starts on Friday and ends on Sunday. Modern day celebrations includes good food, drinking and litting bonfires.
Bonfires and the Thunderbird
Ukko can create lightnings and he is the god of fire, therefore fire is the element of summer solstice. In the pagan times bonfires were symbols of abundance and they were lit to keep evil and bad spirits away. When smoke of the bonfire vanished into to the skies people believed that gods and goddesses living in the Ylinen (the spirit realm) would hear their hopes and wishes. Bonfires are the most common Juhannus tradition still today in Finland. Custom goes back to 10 000 years to the shamanic times. Before people worshiped human-shaped deities, they worshiped animal-shaped gods. One of the most respected ones was ukkoslintu, eagle, the Thunderbird. Eagles are massive birds and seeing them is always impressive. Eagles tend to pray just before the storm. For the ancient Finns seeing an eagle flying was omen of approaching thunder. Eagles are connected to the myth of the Phoenix. They can literally re-create themselves. When an eagle gets old and it´s feathers start to fall off. It can choose to die or it can pluck away all it´s old feathers and grow new ones. This in fact can extend the lifespan of the eagle. Myths about the thunder birds are common all over the world. In many cultures eagles are symbols of the thunder god.
Wreaths, Poles and Decorations
One of the old juhannus decorations was to cut trunks from birch trees and put them to both sides of doors and gates. These trunks were decorated with fresh flowers and leaves. This tradition probably originates from Sweden where midsummer poles are more common. This is custom is not practiced in Finland anymore. If there was a birch tree outside the house, tree was also decorated with leaves and ribbons. Houses, saunas and stables were all cleaned and decorated with wreaths. Children made wreaths from flowers and placed them to the foreheads of cows and horses.
Juhannus spells and superstitions
Ukko was the god of love and fertility and he was very popular god among women who wanted to get married or become pregnant. Many spells were performed in the saunas and meadows that were filled with wild flowers. Here are some Juhannus spells and superstitions:
Pick 7,9 or 12 wild flowers (they all need to be different species). Put them under your pillow and in the night of the summer solstice your future spouse appears into your dreams.
Go to the forest in the night of the summer solstice and find a spring or a well. Look into the well at midnight and you will see your future husband/wife.
Juhannus is a great time to see elves and fairies. If you see willow o´wisps in the forest, follow the flames and you will find a buried treasure.
If you go into a well in the night between 24th and 25th of June, water has turned into vodka.
If you have headpains spread some summer solstice morning dew onto your forehead and the pain will dissappear.
If you have tinnitus in your ear, pour some morning dew into it and the ringing will stop.
If you drink morning dew in the Sunday morning after the summer soltice you will get a beautiful singing voice.
Roll naked in the morning dew in the night of the summer soltice and you remain beautiful for the rest of the year.
Finnish Pagan Wheel of the Year: Juhannus (video)
Cover photo taken by wonderful Sara Jones.
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Artist and Illustrator. Mythology and Folklore enthusiastic. Keen traveler. Comes from Finland. Likes cats, tea, and such.
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