“May God protect me from witches’ shots”: Protection Against Witches’ Shots in Swedish-Finnish Charms

Karolina Kouvola, University of Helsinki

This paper examines the mythic thinking in Swedish-Finnish charms against witches’ shots in the coastal region in Finland. Witches’ shots was a disease that affected both humans and livestock, specifically cows. It was carried by wind or by weather, or sometimes it arrived in a form of an arrow which could be seen by naked eye in some cases. Causes for this disease varied as well as the remedies for it. Protective charms were a one way to deal with witches’ shot but it was also possible to send the disease back to its first caster. Different means to treat this disease tell about mythic thinking  that is traceable behind charm verses and narratives about witches’ shot. This study takes into account also Finnish charms against the witches’ shots in the bilingual community of the coastal Finland. By examining whence the witches’ shot was thought to come from, substances of the charms against it and means to protect oneself and one’s cattle against it tell about the vernacular worldview of rural communities in the 19th century in a bilingual community.