Finnish magick

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Note: This article uses magic and magick interchangably, meaning the same occult practice.

Whereas Asatru magical workings are often based on the symbolism of runes, and Icelandic magick has a similar emphasis along with the use of the power of language, Finnish magick could be characterized by the use of spell singing with a specific poetic form. Even modern musical artists like Wimme Saari and various females such as Liisa Matveinen and Tellu Virkkala make whole albums based on spell songs influenced by their pagan religion.


Ancient Finnish magick songs and lyrics are presented in both the Kalevala and the Kanteletar.

Finns were especialy prized by the Norse Vikings for their skills in wind magick. One spell involved binding the wind into a cord with three knots. Undoing the first knot produced a steady wind. Undoing the second produced a gale. Undoing the third, unleashed a hurricaine. Or something to that effect.

The above focus on wind magic that is often seen in many texts comes from A Description of Northern Peoples 1555, 3 vols., Olaus Magnus (ed. P.G. Foote). The following passage illustrates:

I would first like to say this: that Finland, the northernmost land, together with Lappland, was once during pagan times as learned in witchcraft as if it had had Zoroaster the Persian for its instructor.... There was a time when the Finns... would offer wind for sale to traders who were detained on their coasts by offshore gales, and when payment had been brought would give them in return three magic knots tied in a strap not likely to break. This is how these knots were to be managed: when they undid the first they would have gentle breezes; when they unloosed the second the winds would be stiffer; but when they untied the third they must endure such raging gales that, their strength exhausted, they would have no eye to look out for rocks from the bow, nor a footing either in the bottom of the ship to strike the sails or at the stern to guide the helm. (Book III, 172-173)

Here is some more about magick from the same text (those damn magicians with their violent ways and skis):

They devote themselves no less to magical skills, and know how to receive or inflict blows by attacking and fleeing on curved boards across the snowfields. These men Arngrim assaulted and crushed, as Saxo testifies, for the sake of winning fame. After they had had the worst of the conflict and had dispersed in flight, they threw behind them three pebbles and made them appear to their foes like three mountains. Arngrim therefore, stunned by the uncertainty of his deluded vision, recalled his troops from the pursuit, believing that he was cut off from the enemy by a wall of towering cliffs. The next day they encountered him again and, when they were beaten, scattered snow on the ground, giving it the semblance of a mighty river. The Swedes, utterly deceived by the illusion, completely misread the situation and thought that an extraordinary volume of roaring waters lay before them. As the victors quaked at this meaningless apparition, the Finns made good their escape. (Book V, 256)

Asatruar know about the Finns

The following quotes are from Kveldulf Gundarssons texts, often used by Asatruar, that mention Finns. They are here for later editing purposes.

Those kennings which refer to kinship - calling Thorr "son of Jord (Earth)," for instance-are effective because, knowing a person's kin, especially forebears, you know more of the layers which have shaped that person and hence more of that-which-she/he-is. You can see this in the sagas, which usually start by telling about the grandparents and parents of the hero in question. Certain elements of this power may also have been borrowed from Finnish magic, in which, to enchant someone, you must know that person's full lineage-all that has gone into creating the person of the moment and that still works within that person's being. – Kveldulf Gundarsson, Teutonic Magic
This god (Ullr), whose name means "glory," was not known on the Continent; he appears to be a native Scandinavian sky-god, possibly Finnish, whose place was taken by Odhinn. He is particularly singled out, even by Odhinn, as among the highest of the gods. It has been suggested that he is the "all-powerful god" by whom, along with Freyr and Njord, vows on one oath-ring were sworn; he is associated with the oath ring in other places as well. His worship was fairly widespread in Scandinavia, although he is seldom mentioned in the myths. – Kveldulf Gundarsson, Teutonic Magic
Although Skadhi is not herself one of the Vanir, she is classed among them because of her marriage to Njord. She is the daughter of the jotun Thjazi. It has been considered that like Ullr, she was one of the original gods of Scandinavia, possibly Finnish in origin, and Branston even claims that she was the eponymous founder of Scandinavia: Skadinauja. Her name may mean "Shadow" or "Scathe"; she is the goddess of snowshoes and a great huntress with the bow. She rules the high mountain regions and the farthest pathways. – Kveldulf Gundarsson, Teutonic Magic
Ynglinga saga also describes how the golden necklace which was the inheritance of the Vanic kings of Sweden was used by a Finnish woman to hang her royal husband in one of the many apparently sacrificial deaths which the early Yngling kings suffered. – Kveldulf Gundarsson, Teutonic Religion
The first kings of the Ynglings all die in ways which makes it clear that they are Wanic sacrifices; one, as mentioned earlier, is hanged with an ancestral necklace; one, through the working of "witchcraft," is thrown by his horse at the autumnal feast of the idises; one is drowned in a vat of mead; one is smothered in his sleep by a Finnish witch when he refuses to return to his wife; one is slain by a hay-fork; one is given to the gods by his folk because the harvests have been bad. -- Kveldulf Gundarsson, Teutonic Religion


Finngerd means "a Finns work." A quick check at the wonderful Zoëga's A Concise Dictionary of Old Icelandic confirms it pretty well, gerd: gerð, see gørð.

gørð, f. (1) making, building; (2) doing, act, deed; orð ok gørðir, words and deeds; (3) arbitration, award; leggja mál í g., to submit a case to arbitration; taka menn til gørðar, to choose umpires; segja or lúka upp g., to deliver the arbitration

and finn:

Finna, f. Finn woman.
Finnar, m. pl. Finns (usually the early non-Aryan inhabitants of Norway and Sweden; not identical with the modern Lapps or Finns).
Finn-ferð, -för, f., -kaup, n. travelling or trading with the Finns;
-gálkn, n. fabulous monster;
-kona, f. = Finna;
-land, n. Finland;
-lendingar, m. pl. the Finns;
-mörk, f. Finmark;
-skattr, m. tribute paid by the Finns.
finnskr, a. Finnish.

So infact, although Finngerd is adequate, a more correct term would be Finngerth in modern spelling since the ð is, as far as I know, pronounced like a "th". Some authors, for example, replace þ with th and ð with th, dh or d but keep the accents; others may not replace o with ö but prefer o (see here).

Random terms

The Germans used the term Ascomanni or "ashmen" after the type of wood that was used to build a ship. Sometimes associated with Finns for some reason. Adam of Bremen in Gesta Hammaburgensis Ecclasiae Pontificum(1070-76) notes that "Ascomanni" is a name used by the Germans, but that the pirates "call themselves, Viking." This is according to History of the Vikings

Bookish wisdom

Do not read Finnish Magic: A Nation of Wizards, A World of Spirits by Robert Nelson (1999), as if it were the authority on Finland or magick. It might not be crap, but from a Finnish perspective it seems a little silly, and it is not really academic even in the slightest.

"The authors carelessly intermingle Sami and Finnish cultural traditions, misspell or misuse Finnish words, and even worse, create something of a mockery of Finnish culture by creating this bizarre, frankly non-existent mismash of cultures and positing it as "Finnish". — Annoyed Reader

A good review of the book by Robert Nelson is available here, read it for some corrections.

One academic dissertation on finnish magic is Laura Stark-Ahola: Magic, Body and Social Order. The Construction of Gender Through Women's Private Rituals in Traditional Finland. (1998). Two articles discussing the book can be read here and here. One of her articles is fully available on the web: Lempi, fire and female väki. She focuses on the female aspects of folk beliefs and practices.

A short article on Finnish magick based on the critiqued book by Nelson (1999) and some other sources can be read from the sacred magick archives Finnish Magic and the Old Gods.

Related finnish paganism pages
Finnish pantheon | Finnish mythology | Finnish paganism
Finnish ritual | Finnish holy places | Finnish magick
Finnish paganism links, resources, and references
Unique Finnish neopagan systems