Comparative Religion

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1946. Otto Räsänen 724 – Antti Räsänen, cobbler. Hankasalmi. 1961. Hankasalmi Folk School. Tuula Tarvainen TK 13:27 – Alma Tarvainen, farm mistress, b. 1887. Another man from Eastern Finland explained the idea of a snake’s assembly stone as follows: ‘When I was a child the old people told how snakes would gather to hold their general assembly in a fixed place where there was a round, egg-shaped stone. ’ (Nilsiä. 1961. Aatto V. Korhonen TK 37:51 – Collector’s father Adolf Korhonen, died 1935). Ukko was the ‘highest god’ in the pre-Christian Finnish pantheon and was associated with thunder (ukkonen).

The envy and vindictiveness, fears of magical harm bordering on paranoia, and lack of ability to identity with others’ suffering which are all evident from these descriptions would appear to most twenty-firstcentury Europeans as irrational and even pathological. This is because these are no longer the means of achieving the rational long-term aims held by most modern individuals. Yet any scrutiny of what has constituted reasonable behavior in other historical periods must take into account cultural-specific notions of self and agency.

Then Tiina told me the story of her youth and how she had taken revenge on my aunt, since my aunt had not let my father marry her. My aunt had twelve children, of which only three girls were left. Many of the children had drowned and all the boys had died, and my aunt’s husband had drowned. Tiina said that it was because of her that this had happened to my aunt’s family and said that she had carried out sorcery so that it would happen in precisely that way. ” Two years went by and then my aunt, while out fishing on Midsummer’s Eve, fell into the water and drowned.

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