Finland, MN

Finnish Folklore: Plants

Niina Pekantytär

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Some wildflower violets in Finland are metsä-orvokki the forest violet and suo-orvokki the marsh violet. According to folklore, especially wild violets attract fairies. It was believed that violet had magical abilities and it was connected to other realms (fairy realm?). Violet was the flower of the lovesick and was used to attract true love. It provided protection from evil spirits.

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White clover is a protective flower that drives away evil spirits. They can help you to find an honest spouse. If you dream about white clovers it means that love is coming your way.

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Bladder Campion. This flower is connected to the maiden aspect and is best suitable for spells performed by untouched young men and maidens. In the old times, the root of the Bladder Campion was used as soap to wash clothes.

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Morning dew collected from red clovers can bring beauty and charm. Tea made from red clover can be used as a love potion. Adding some red clovers into the sauna water was believed to bring wealth and money.

Spells and superstitions
Use a red clover as a boutonniere and all your business affairs go smoothly.

Take one of the petals and suck the mead from it. Kiss the one you love and they are eternally yours.

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Daisies were often used in love spells and in romantic divination (loves me, loves me not…). Pregnant women used the same method to find out whether the child was a boy or a girl. Another romantic divination was to ask what was the profession of the future spouse (sailor, doctor, priest, blacksmith, tailor…). Since daisies were used a lot in divination all of it´s nicknames refer to that: ennustuskukka, arpakukka (divination flower), elänkuolenkukka (live die flower), juu ja ei (yes and no)…

Spells and superstitions:
Daisies that are picked on the Summer solstice remove negative energy from home.

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Marsh Marigold represents youth and beauty. If the maiden washed their face in the morning of the summer solstice with milk that had marsh marigold leaves mixture, they would remain beautiful for the rest of the summer.

Superstitions:
Not very suitable for love magic because it might bring former lovers into your dreams (unless you want them back).

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Corn flower. The literal translation of corn flower in Finnish is ruiskaunokki is rye beauty. Rolling in a field filled with cornflowers was believed to attract beauty, youth, happiness and suitors. Cornflower is a weed that grows in cornfields (rye fields in Finland). Having these “weeds” growing was considered a good thing and people believed that they brought fertility to the soil and helped the rye grow.

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Tormentil is a witches flower and the shape of its petals is connected to a pentagram. It can be used for both protective magic and curses.

Superstitions:
Add tormentils to your flower wreath, wear it on the night of the summer solstice and you can turn yourself invisible.

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Fern (Finnish: saniainen, sananjalka) is loved by the fairies and the forest folk. The folk tale tells that once fern grew beautiful flowers but one day there was an old woman in the forest who wiped their behind with fern flowers. This made ferns so upset that they refused to bloom during the day but only during midnight when it is so dark that no one can see their flowers. But if someone did saw fern flowers they became illusionist and they would learn the language of the birds. If one saw fern blooming in the night of the summer solstice they could find a treasure but only a brave person could do that because the treasure had to be dug up from the ground in the middle of the night when only light came from willow o wisps and the treasure was guarded by kratti, the treasure elf who would not give their treasures away just for anyone. Another Finnish name for fern is kuolleenkoura (fist of a dead person). When the ferns rise from the ground in the spring the young leaves look like fists.

The belief that fern bloomed during the night of summer solstice was very popular so witches and shamans were very eager to get fern seeds to their hands. The Finnish name for fern, sananjalka (literally means; stem of a word) got its name from a spell that was performed during the summer solstice. In this spell when a person cut the stem of the fern, they would see the initials of their future spouse in them.

Superstitions:
Add fern leaves into a wreath, wear it and you can turn invisible.

Sleep with fern leaves under your pillow and you dream about the future. Sleep with fern-root under your pillow and you can find solutions to your problems in your dream.

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Finnish name of the Common Yarrow siankärsämö means pig´s snout. The origin story of the name is unknown but since common yarrow can be found in white and light pink..like baby pigs, that might explain the name. Sometimes yarrow was called lavantautiheinä (typhoid hey) because it was used to heal typhoid patients. In folk magic, yarrows were added into wreaths since they drew away demons and evil spirits. It was recommended to add pink yarrows into flower bouquets because they would attract love and romance.

Other names of the plant are connected to its usage. It was used to spice up beer and it was known as peltohumala, ketohumala (field intoxication, meadow intoxication). Yarrow was smoked as a cigarette ( tupakkikukka / cigarette flower). Sometimes names were connected to the growing place of the flower. It was also known as pellonvanhanen, pellonvanhin, pellonvanhus (oldest of the meadow) and pientarekukka (a flower that grows next to the road).

​Superstitions:
Wrap yarrows inside pink flannel. Slide them under your pillow and you can dream about the future.

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Dill is a protective herb. Carry dill with you and it protects you against evil spirits and jealous witches. Dill is most powerful during the summer solstice. It can also protect you against mischievous forest spirits.

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White clover is a protective flower that drives away evil spirits. They can help you to find an honest spouse. If you dream about white clovers it means that love is coming your way.

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Fringed orchid. Powerful witches plant and works best in the spells that are performed in the middle of the night. Connected to Alinen (the underworld). In folk magic, a fringed orchid can turn a cat into a dog, old into young and ugly to a beauty. In Christian folk tales, flowers of the fringed orchid are connected to angels because the petals (according to some) look like angel wings. In (now day) Finland flower is protected in the whole country. Fringed orchid is especially famous for its enchanting scent.

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twinflower is a common flower in Finnish forests. According to folklore, they attract fairies and forest spirits.

Bell-like flowers of Vanamo has given it nicknames like; harakankello (magpie´s bell) sirkunkello (singing bird´s bell).

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Dandelion. Some people love it and others hate it and call it a weed. Voikukka translates as butterflower and refers to the yellow colour. Blowing dandelion seeds is a ritual when you can perform a wish. In the flower, wreath dandelions represent optimism, happiness, determination and positivity. Other nicknames for dandelion are keltakukka (the yellow flower) and ohrakukka (the barley flower) because it blooms around the time when barley is sown.

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the white anemone is a common flower of summer solstice because its blooming time is in the middle of June. The flower was used in love spells especially those who were looking for short-time relationships…it´s not necessarily the best flower for someone looking for commitment. Nowadays White Anemone is a protected flower in northern Finland and Lapland.

Vuokko has some lovely nicknames as well like suvenihanainen (loveliest of the summer) keväänlempi (spring love) keväänesikoinen (first of the spring).

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Folklorist and historian. Alcott essayist. A host of the Little Women Podcast.

Finland, MN
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