There are certain universal themes that you can find in myths across the globe. One of them is the forest enchantment. In Finnish folklore there is a similar concept called metsänpeitto, the forest blanket. In Finnish folklore forest is often in the heart of the mysterious events. Myths and legends are nature-centric and spirits and deities are manifestations of nature. 70 % of Finland is covered by the forest and (most) Finnish people have always had very respectful relationship towards the forest. According the old Finnish expression entering to the forest was like entering into a church. We even have created words for all kinds of forest-based activities.
Metsästää – to hunt (metsä-forest)
marjastaa – to pick berries (marja-berry)
sienestää – to pick mushrooms (sieni-mushroom)
First story about metsänpeitto is a warning story. Be careful not to get lost in the forest because fairies and elves will put an enchantment upon you and you can never find your way back home. These similar trickster stories are well-known around the world. In Ireland and Wales you can get trapped under similar enchantment when you step into a fairy ring. Stories in Finland are no different. Person gets distracted by something. Perhaps they see a willow´o wisp and decide to follow it. They enter into the fairy-realm where everything is upside down. When they finally find their way out back to the human world 50 years might have passed.
There was different ways one could protect themselves not to get sucked into the fairy realm. Red clothes particularly were disliked by the forest spirits. Red is a protective color and it is also the color of blood and life. One way to get out of the metsänpeitto was to turn clothes upside down and the world would return back to normal or person could pour water into their footprints. In the fairy realm person should find a twisted tree and through a hole they could see the human world and ask for help (I just got a first season Stranger things flash back!) .
There is another way to approach forest blanket. Being covered by the forest and getting under the enchantment can be a positive, enlighting experience. But is is only recommended for the true seekers of wisdom and those who wish to unwrap the secrets of the forest. In this shamanic experience the person does not fight against the forest blanket, but allows it to cover them. Instead of panicking they know their way back. This kind of experiences have happened to me often. In this enchantment person breaths and meditates the forest. You become one with the place and the spirits of the place. In this peaceful state of mind you can start having visions. Some people see nature spirits in the corners of their eyes. Others see grass and flowers growing and dying, animals roaming and trees whispering to each others. Experience is always personal.
In the pagan times it was tradition that when the person entered into the forest they said/sang the greeting words of the forest.
Terve metsän haltiat
Greetings forest spirits
When person greeted the forest they made sure that they would be safe in the forest and assured the spirits that they were respectful towards them and only have good intentions.
Don´t forget to check my up-coming
course on Finnish mythology )O(
My video on the Forest Blanket
Artist and Illustrator. Folklorist , anthropologist, mythology enthusiastic. Keen traveller. Gryffinclaw. Comes from Finland. Likes cats, tea and period dramas.
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