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Trollcunning people - Värmland II

Among all the wisemen and trollcunning people there were some who stood out and gained a reputation. Two of them were “Puro-Juho” in Östmark and Pallin in Northern Finnskoga.

Puro-Juho / Puro-Jo

Puro-Jo was known as one of the greatest “trollkunniga” of all time. He lived all his life at Purotorp, just next to the Norwegian border. It is said that as soon as he looked at the hawk in the air, it fell dead to the ground. He could “stämma” blood and also “stämma” bears on men and cattle. He could bring rain in dry summers and turn the rain showers to go away again. To get rain, he plowed with a big ladle in the middle of the stream and to drive the rain away, he went out and cut the air with his “trollknife” which immediately brought sunny and clear weather.

The article tells a story from the 1850s about some farmers who were tormented by wolves that fearlessly entered the farms and ate their animals. The lousy weapons of that time didn’t help them get rid of the wolves so they went to Puro-Jo to ask for help. Puro-Jo said he could help if they only showed him one of the wolf tracks. They took him to one of the tracks and he gently lifted it up and turned it around facing another direction while declaring in finnish that there would be no more wolves in Finnskoga as long as there were teeth in his jawbone. No one saw any wolves in Finnskoga for many decades after that.

Another one of the stories about Puro-Jo is about when he expelled all the trout from the “Tvengsbergsdammen” [Tvengsberg pond]. One day he was fishing there and he pulled up one trout after another since he knew the right words to get fish. Another man that was out and fishing in the same pond that day was Antillan-Pekka, he did not have the same fishing luck as Puro-Jo had and it was a rather bad day for him. Antillan-Pekka got angry and asked Puro-Jo to leave and go back to Sweden again.

Puro-Jo gathered his things together and stretched his hand out over the pond and shouted, with a voice that made Antilla-Pekka chill. “Yes, I will go, but as long as you and your descendants to the third generation are alive there will be no trout in this pond”. Since then, there have been no trout in the Tvengsberg pond and all attempts to release trout fry there have failed

Yet another story reveals Puro-Juhos bad temper. It is said that some boys once coated a gate hook with excrement, so that he got some of it on his hands when he opened the gate. In anger, Juho then conjured illness on him from which the excrement originated. A boy completely innocent of the deed suffered severe wounds and blisters on his body, but when they tried to get Juho to take the spell back again he could not, because he had thrown the devastating sacrifice into water which caused the boy to die in severe pain.

Puro-Jos' reputation continued to grow even in death. When he was dead, his body never became rigid and under his bier in the summer barn the ground melted, even though it was bitterly cold in winter.


There are a lot of stories about Halvar Eskilsson who lived south of “Gomberget“ Norra Finnskoga, commonly called Pallin. He was a most peculiar man, born sometime in the early 1830s, died around 1914 in his 80s. Pallin was known for sorcery connected to running water and his ability to find lost items, but also with a reputation for driving people insane even for relatively innocent offenses which undoubtedly made him one of the most feared “Trollkunniga” of his time.

One of the most famous stories is also one of the most tragic, how Pallin caused harm upon his own daughter. It was a pure mistake on his part and happened in the following way. He was an avid hunter and used to set snares for birds, of which there were plenty. He always put spells upon them first, because it used to happen that they stole his birds from the snares. This time he had some business to the village of Dalby. As there was nothing to ride on, he went down there by foot. While he was gone his daughter got home and took a couple of birds out of the snares to cook them back home. When Pallin was down there in Dalby he suddenly said that he had to go home immediately because he felt that things were not right at home. When he got back home he found that his daughter was both deaf and mute. Pallin was not able to take the spell back since he had put it in running water and the girl stayed that way for the rest of her life.

Other stories tell us about how Pallin punished those who used his boat without permission. When a neighbor repeatedly kept using his boat despite locks and bolts, Pallin became angry and swore that the culprit would be bound to stand by the boat until Pallin got there and released him. It was a relatively mild punishment compared to the man who also used to borrow Pallin's boat and who suddenly suffered from mental disorder. The strange thing was that from then on he was particularly afraid of boats, made the sign of the cross, and behaved strangely as soon as he was about to get into one.

Pallin was also known to be able to see into the future and know what was going on in distant places. It is said that once at his fishing lake, about 15 km from home, he suddenly hit his head and said "Now it's over".

He then mentioned to his companion that he had witnessed the death of a close relative down in the village. On returning home, the vision came true. The relative had died at the same hour that Pallin had his vision.

When it was near the end for old Pallin, he took his fishing gear and said he would go and get a perch, "that goes over there in the lake one-eyed and wants to get up." He added "If he bites, I might not come to your house anymore."

According to Ben-Halvar, Pallin's closest friend and fishing companion, the perch did bite, and Pallin fell ill over there at his fishing lake. In the evening, Pallin arranged for his funeral. He asked Ben-Halvar to take his dead body to consecrated ground, but if this could not be done, he had to bury him in the forest and then go to the cemetery and get three full shovels of dirt. However, this was not necessary, because the dying man was able to ride home on Ben-Halvar's horse. Pallin died not long afterwards.

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