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Trollcunning people - Old Fin

source: Ryggåsstuga from

Tvärred is a parish located between Borås and Ulricehamn in Västra götaland and was home to Peter Pettersson Fin, born around midsummer 1812 and died 1888. Peter Fin first served as a soldier but it was after leaving the regiment that he became known as a “Trollkunnig” and wise man. In the 1860s and 1870s, people traveled many miles to partake of his sorcery, whether for illness, bad luck or lust. Unless Fin, with his strange knowledge, could help, these people felt there was no hope for their problems.

Fin is described as “a tall man, somewhat lanky and sloppy in his movements with a yellowish and dark face”. Someone was said to describe him “as if he had been of a different race”. He was known as a heavy drinker and in time became bloated and reddish in the face with a horrible nose that resembled a bloodied potato. He was stern and commanding, often snapping, snarky and cheeky in his expressions. If he spoke at all, he was said to keep most of it inside and when he stared at people they all felt the terrible chill creep up their spine and the blood freeze in the veins. As one described it “Han mol med ögonen, så blon kunde stannat i en” (He grinds you with his eyes so that your blood could stop). He behaved very forcefully towards his help-seekers. Those who had doubts in his powers or didn't show up on time got no help from the Trollcunning man. “If you doubt it you have no business here” was a common answer to some of them.

Those who met Fin's requirements were asked to hand over a piece of clothing which he then took into his chamber further into the house, where he had his bottles and other equipment. The price for his service was three daler or one riksdaler, and of course half a bottle of “brännvin” (vodka). If you forgot to bring brännvin, you were not welcome at all.

He himself claimed that he had been in Finland and learned his tricks. However, he lacked "a special kind of water", which he searched for in vain for several years. When he then managed to acquire this as well, he soon enough became the widely notorious and dangerous Fin, about whom it was said: "Certainly he can both cure the sick and remove all the vanity and horror, but he puts it on other poor people instead. Never mind that they may have caused it many times themselves. But still!"

Fin was regarded as a very competent “Trollgubbe”, clearly in rank with the by the time famous “Göta-Lena”. He was more malicious though and had no problem with “sätta ner” [put down] people, so they hung like withered leaves. He branded and mutilated his neighbor with blemish and burden for their whole lives without regret.

He had a big old chest inside his cabin. He used to sit on this quite often during his receptions. In front, next to Fin and slightly obscured by the front end of the coffin, people sometimes saw a large black dog sitting and lying, although Fin had no dog. This of course got people talking about it being the devil himself that Fin was working with. These rumors were the reason why many who had to pass by Fin's cabin at night were in a great hurry. During the day, however, you could see plenty of people sitting with horses and carriages waiting for their turn.

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There are plenty of stories about people who visited Fin to get help. A man from halland went to see him because his horses were always self-willed and lethargic. "There is a collection of calf bones hidden in the litter (filling material) in the gutter in the middle above, where the horses stand," explained Fin. "Clear it away". When the long-distance seeker who had come for help came home to his farm in Halland, he did as Fin ordered him and immediately the horse was well.

One farmer complained that one of his cows got weaker everyday and didn't produce milk. Fin informed him that she got words about her. Someone with an evil tongue had spoken bad about her and recommended him to cure her with other words, tear a page from an almanac and put in dough to feed the cow.

"We had real difficulties in the barn. Recently we had lost one cow. Now the bull was lying down and about to give up, so I went to Fin", said a despairing livestock owner. "If you have any cloth with you, bring them here," ordered Fin, and he was given a piece of clothing by the farmer. The farmer told what happened next: "Then he went into a small dark chamber and rattled and talked. Then came out and gave me a small tangle of thread with the promise that I should neither unravel nor remove it, but hide it carefully in the barn. Then it would soon get better.” Of course the ox got better, it was just a matter of believing in Fin's arts and magic formulas.

“"The cow was shivering. She's got a Troll Shot,” complained another farmer. Finn's answer was, as always, precise and quick: "Stand in the barn and fire a shot with a shotgun or pistol out the door."

A man from Fristad described his visit: "I didn't get there until late, so it was a bit dark in the cabin. Fin was not at home. A woman sat there before me, waiting. Soon enough, however, Fin arrives. He walks without opening his mouth, straight to the large table, which stood at the front by the gable. There he turns around and stands like a priest in front of an altar and for a few minutes looks sullen and gloomily outside the cabin. Then, still in agonizing silence, goes out again. In a few moments, he stares in from the otherside of the door and calls to him the woman who was sitting there. In a moment he was seen again at the door, and I had to follow him into a small insignificant room, which was opposite the cabin door, next to the front cabin. There he looked at my aching finger. "You ought to have this," said Fin; "you have sought others before, but finally came for help from me."

A farmer in Sandhult had lost a large amount of money so he went to Fin. "I see (in the clothes) who has them. If you want, I'll spoil him for the rest of his life." "Nahe, 'a-e", drew the other uncertainty on the answer, "but he should still have some punishment". "Yes," rejoined Fin, "then we'll take the mildest one so that he still will be able to work afterwards. You know him. Last time you spoke to him he had all his sight intact, but next time he will be one-eyed. You will get your money back", whereupon the farmer left for home. When he entered the home parish, he met a person he recognized. This one wailed and complained: "A moment ago, right as I was walking,something stung my left eye like the sharpest awl. And now I'm blind to it. This is probably the punishment for my misdeed. It is I who stole your money”.

A boy in the district of Ås had been abandoned by his fiancee, but the boy promised himself that he would mark her forever so he went to Fin. Shortly thereafter, his former girlfriend became blind in both eyes.

A newly married woman from east of Borås had problems both internally and externally. She shrunk so that the skin seemed to fall off her. She was tormented and tormented day and night. Her husband finally went to Fin. “She's been put down. I put her down in fire for her former fiancé” (put down in fire could never be taken back), explained Fin.

Fin grew older, crooked and gray over the years. Eventually the moment came when this man, so richly gifted in secret arts, felt his strength run out. When he was about to die, he was terribly tormented. It seemed to his wife and others around him that there was something that prevented him from dying. One day when he was lying brooding with his guilty conscience, he ordered his books to be taken out and thrown into the fire in his sight, which was done.

Then as the sulphur-blue flames licked up the sinful leaves, Fin gave up his breath and his magical powers turned into gray-black smoke.


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