Robert Means Lawrence: Primitive Psycho-Therapy and Quackery
Sunday, October 10, 2010
Most of the magical Finnish songs were composed since the twelfth century
The Hon. John Abercromby, in the second volume of his work entitled "Pre- and Proto-historic Finns," gives a vast number of the magic songs, or charms, of Finland, among which are to be found a collection of formulas, under the caption, "words of healing power," which were recited for the cure of physical ailments of every description. For the purpose of comparison the author has also grouped together many specimens of spells and incantations in vogue among the neighboring peoples, as the Swedes, Slavs, and Lithuanians. He is of the opinion that most of the magical Finnish songs were composed since the twelfth century, and in the transition period, before Christianity had fully taken the place of paganism. During this period the recitation of metrical charms was no longer restricted to the skilled magician, but became popular in every Finnish household. Hence apparently the gradual evolution of a mass of incantations for use in every conceivable exigency or emergency of life. A chief feature of many of these medical charms consists in vituperation and personal abuse of the particular spirit of sickness addressed.