White Magic in the Finnmark Witch Trials

Amber R. Cederstrom (University of Wisconsin Press)

My paper considers benign or "white" magic as it appears in a series of witch trials that occurred over the course of the seventeenth century in Finnmark, northern Norway. The emphasis--of both the court documents and scholarship--is of course on harmful magic, but instances of healing and magical protection, among other traditions of white magic, are also attested. This paper presents a preliminary foray, excavating white folk magic from the trial documents and considering what roles it played in the trials themselves, its (re)interpretation in a courtroom setting, and its social and cultural context beyond the trials themselves.

Part of 05-10 Health, Magic, and Gendered Power in pre-Modern Scandinavia and Russia, Friday, November 03, 10:30 am–12:30 pm