”There be yer figure, but where might yer soul be?” Conceptions Concerning Witches and Blåkulla in Sweden and Finland
MIRATOR ELOKUU/AUGUSTI/AUGUST (2002)
Swedes of the Early Modern Period referred to the nightly meetings of witches, the so-called witches’ sabbat, as Blåkulla. This name was also known in the western parts of Finland, which was a part of Sweden at the time, where the cultural links to Sweden were the strongest. Blåkulla, however, was not entirely the product of demonological witch theory, but rather there are many belief and perception layers of different ages to be detected from the descriptions in the judgment rolls. By analyzing these, it is possible to increase our understanding of the processes of change concerning mentalities and folk religion. Firstly, attention here is focused on the term ‘troll’ as a reference to witches by the Early Modern Swedes. Next, I will investigate how the Blåkulla journeys coincide with the descriptions of old legends and medieval visionary poetry. Then I will analyze the various auxiliary spirits of witches. Finally, I will investigate how the Christian and pre-Christian ideas of Hell and the afterlife were brought together in the Blåkulla descriptions.