What other abilities (apart from raising wind) were Lapland witches supposed to have ?

From the High Middle Ages up until the late 19th century, people in Lapland and Saami people in general were often said to have magical powers such as clairvoyance (in fact this shows up several times in the sagas; the story of Gunnhild’s meeting with Eirikur Blood-Axe (her future husband) As Told By Snorri for example and the story about Snaefridur, Harald Fairhair’s second wife.

I have mentioneda fantasy story I’m drafting right now where the world is based on Icelandic family and legendary sagas and general medieval Northern European beliefs about themselves and the rest of the world, with aspects of Dickensian London (Dickensian Reykjavik/Christiania?) in the city the teenage hero, Bjarki comes from. One of the important supporting characters is Bjarki’s old wet nurse at the baby farm where he was sent as an infant- a Finnish (read : Saami) thrall woman called Selja (Scandinavian spelling of Celia) who’s a witch who can call up storms and sell them; an old European practice where you go to a windswept place, hold out a cloth to capture the wind and tie three knots in it. The first knot supposedly gives a light wind, the second gives a stronger one and the third causes a storm. Selling wind was apparently common in Lapland (also in the British Isles). Lapland witches were also said to be able to curse people by spitting on a knife three times and covering their victims in the spit.

In order to make this more accurate, I have done some googling on Lapland witches and only come across references to 16th and 17th century English literature and old travelogues which don’t give much information. But I want to find some reliable sources beyond the sagas I’ve read and what I’ve already found. Supposedly the last supposed Lapland Witch died in the early 1900s.

Anyone know much about this topic?

sorry for bumping. Thought it might help if I linked to something I found. Raising the Wind by Ernest Moyne and Wayne R. Kime on Google Books.

Wow … my heritage is part Saami; yet I never heard of Lapland witches until now, reading your thread. I will follow it with interest.

Where from if it’s not too personal? Norway? Sweden? Finland?

“Lapland witches” appear in The Snow Queen where Gerda meets two women referred to as “the Finn-woman” and “the Lapp-woman” who both have magical powers.

Breaking wind is a major power now?



Another reference to selling a wind

I know of Lapland witches though that wonderfully evocative passage in Milton’s Paradise Lost which refers to them.

That was one of the references I turned up when I googled the phrase. There’s apainting inspired by the passage.