Suomenusko in translation – blood stopping poems

Piäty, veri, vuotamasta,
Hurme huppelehtamasta,
Päälleni päräjämästä,
Riuskumasta rinnoilleni,
Veri, seiso kuni seinä,
Asu, hurme, kuni aita,
Kuin miekka meressä seiso,
Saraheinä sammalessa,
Paasi pellon pientaressa,
Kivi koskessa kovassa!

One special phenomenon in Finnish folk medicine is bloodstopping, that is, a way to halt bleeding from a wound. The ability was said to run in certain families, but one might also receive it from an older healer.

Right words were needed to stop the bleeding, and the words were thought to lose their power if they came to the attention of others. The form of the spell and words used varied from healer to healer and between different geographical regions. For example, in Karelia the spells could be long, and in Ostrobothnia very concise and command-like.

According to one interpretation, the bleeding could be stopped because of the strength of the healer’s mind (’kova luonto’, literally ’hard character’). The healing could be done from near or far. All that was needed was that the healer knew about the existence of the wound.

In order to stop the bleeding caused by an iron object, the words describing the mythical origin of iron might be needed. After these words were recited, the iron was rebuked because it had slashed human flesh despite the promise it had made in the ancient times. Finally, bloodstopping words could be said, and maybe a prayer.

Traditional bloodstopping is also described in the Baltic Finnish folk poems. In the poem Väinämöinen is crafting a boat in the ancient time, when he badly hits his knee with an axe. Seriously wounded, Väinämöinen seeks for help and finds ”old man laying on top of the oven”. The man recites the bloodstopping words and heals the wound with ointment.

The bloodstopping tradition has survived in Finland for a long time. The singer Tapio Rautavaara recounts in his memoirs how he witnessed bloodstopping as a child in Häme in 1920s. According to some reports there are still bloodstoppers in Finland continuing their ancestral traditions.

Translation: Anssi A.

Link to source: Suomenusko

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