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Trollcunning people Värmland I

Updated: Sep 6, 2022


Värmland is located in the west of Sweden with a long border to Norway and is characterized by dense forest, mountains and wilderness even today. It has a long history, there are human traces found that are approximately 9,000 years old. Around the year 1580 people from Finland started to immigrate and settled in the forests where they lived close to nature.

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“Skogsfinnarna” The Finns

Trolldom and magic was to a particularly high degree the property of every man in the northern parts of Värmland. It was a very prominent element in the world of the forest finders, and it was natural for them to put its powers to use and many times the only available aids to protect themselves and their belongings against the dangers of existence and to achieve success and happiness in their occupations. The magic used could express itself in purely practical actions or be word magic in the form of spells or signs but it could also be directed at humans.

A fairly extensive magical knowledge was a necessary equipment for each but the Finns stood out. They had a reputation for sorcery, and this reputation has followed them down to relatively modern times. Many Swedish residents were afraid to clash with the Finns, as they were believed to be able to use black magic against them.

Above the great multitude rose a crowd of sages and sorcerers endowed with supernatural powers and well versed in the secrets of magic, whose names were mentioned with respect, mingled with not inconsiderable fear. According to tradition these sorcerers acquired their power in such a way that they entered into an alliance with the devil by a contract, written with their own blood, swore to him. Their deaths were also often connected with such peculiar circumstances that the connection between the Prince of the Abyss and their deeds was not doubted.

For example, about the sorcerer “Mattes in Glasnäs”, it is said that the priest who visited him when he was on his deathbed was unable to get a large black dog away from his bed so that he could give him communion. In anger that the priest was unable to help him, Mattes then said: “ "Så länge dä finns kött på mina döe ben, så ska pastorn inte beträ predikstolen" ["As long as there is meat on my dead bones, the priest shall not enter the pulpit]". After the visit to Glasnäs, the priest also fell ill and could never preach again - that part of the tradition is in any case consistent with reality.

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The art of Trolldom

The records don’t mention how these sorcerers went about their business, when they "acted out", sent out magic shots or otherwise destroyed people and animals, they generally relate only the course of events themselves. This is also natural enough, since the sorcerers did not want spectators when they performed their arts, among other things because their ability could be lost if it was taught to others. However, when making arrangements, it seems that the method of preparing a so-called “offer” was used. In this case, several items were placed in a small cloth bag, e.g. nails, cat hair, husk and hook, cemetery soil and anything, such as strands of hair, pieces of cloth etc. from the person you wanted to help or cause illness. This bag was then placed in some fixed place, such as in a north-flowing stream, by the churchyard, or somewhere where the person who was the subject of the spell must come in contact with it.

Closely related to this “offer” was the “Trollskott”, which varied in execution; sometimes it is thus said to have happened that the sorcerer made a small ball out of a thread used to measure a dead person, nails, hair, pieces of cloth, etc. with which he loaded his gun. On a tree trunk, a wall, etc. he then drew a picture, which would represent the person the shot was intended to hit, and then fired at the picture after reciting this prayer: “Så sant som detta skott går fram, så sant skall min själ i brinnande helvetet stå".

["As true as this shot goes forth, so true shall my soul in the burning hell stand"]

If the sorcerer had aimed at the heart of the image, the intended person fell dead, if he had aimed at an arm it was corrupted, etc. Magic shots could also be fired at someone's livestock, e.g. a cow, which then died quickly. No marks could be seen in the skin of a cattle hit by such a shot, but within the animal's flesh were found traces as that of a bullet.

source: Richard Broberg “Värmland förr och nu” 1953, Värmlands fornimmes och museiförening,

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