Travellers, Easter Witches and Cunning Folk: Regulators of Fortune and Misfortune in Ostrobothnian Folklore in Finland

Karolina Kouvola 1
  • 1 Department of Culture / Study of Religions, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland


This article* is about the distinct groups that practised malevolent and benevolent witchcraft in Swedish-speaking Ostrobothnia in late-modern Finland according to belief legends and memorates. Placing belief legends and memorates in Mary Douglas’ tripartite classification of powers that regulate fortune and misfortune illuminates the social structure of agents who posed a threat or regulated it by means of their supranormal powers. Powers that bring misfortune dwell outside or within the community, whereas powers that bring fortune live within it but nevertheless may be ambivalent and pose a threat to its members as well. Threat towards the community was based on the concept of limited good, in other words the belief that there was a finite amount of prosperity in the world. The aim is to paint a detailed picture of the complex social structure and approaches to witchcraft in late-modern Swedish-speaking Ostrobothnia.

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