The blackest chapter in the history of Witchcraft lies not in the malevolence of Witches but in the deliberate, gloating cruelty of their prosecutors.
THEDA KENYON. Witches Still Live.
I have always enjoyed my visits to Finland.
I was fortunate to be able to go for several years and work with wonderful spiritually-minded people in Helsinki and Turku. Sometimes we ventured further afield, my friend, manifestor and I. We visited the east of Finland which is very interesting with its clapboard houses and Lutheran churches. We even went to Lapland as well as the islands in the Finnish archipelago and I learned the lesson that life requires effort, but that is another story!
I developed a great affection for the cottages in the forest and the deep lakes which are an essential part of Finnish life.
Swimming in the lakes is the equivalent of having a spa as the water is so full of nutrients. There are so many wonderful aspects to this country which has only 7 to 8 million resident which is less than London! And the trees go on forever. For many people the nature is the church and many old ways still exist. There is also a deep seated belief in nature elementals; they come when called. The elementals are constant companions when you are foraging in the forest for mushrooms or berries, this is a blessing as it is easy to get lost in the forest and you might not see another soul for a very long time.
And so it was that one day my friend and I decided to take a day off from teaching and go to Tallinn.
It had been a busy few days with readings and classes so some time out was very welcome. We decided to take the boat to Estonia and visit the medieval town of Tallinn. I had been before, the boat ride is so pleasant and the town is very evocative of times gone by, it’s a bit like a picture from a fairy tale book. There is a shop off the beaten track that sells Tarot cards and other paraphernalia and I was looking forward to stopping by and bagging myself a gift to bring home.
The sun shone as we arrived in Tallinn. We watched the archers on the green and had an amazing coffee and it was then I saw the flyer for the Witchcraft Museum. I had not been before and I had this compelling urge to see what it was all about. My friend begged me not to go, she implored with me to do something else but I was determined.
The Witchcraft Museum.
I made my way up a flight of curving stairs, pulled back a heavy red curtain and I found myself in a room that was full of…well…contraptions. I wandered around trying to get a measure of what these monstrosities could have been used for. There were chairs with spikes on the seat, an iron sarcophagus that had razor sharp knives on the inside, there was other stuff too but I fear that getting too graphic with the detail will take me back there. I began to wonder how people could even work in such a place. The atmosphere was so very heavy and I felt a chill in my spine as I began to connect to the suffering that was associated with such objects.
I wrestled with my sensitivity and I had to leave the museum quickly as my legs felt like lead and my head was hurting.
I was relieved to see the sun still shining as I came out and found my friend in the café. She looked askance at me, my face was white and we both knew I should have taken her advice. However, we got on with our day trip and the mood soon lightened with a nice lunch and a wander around the town. I put on one side my museum experience and we began to make plans for the rest of my visit.
The following day I travelled south to Turku.
I love this journey as Finnish trains are very comfortable and the scenery is spectacular. I had some busy days ahead and was looking forward to seeing old friends and running workshops.
I started out with a glad heart, my friend waved me off with a promise of a send-off before I returned to London. The train glided through the villages and countryside and I sat back and relaxed. However, an hour or so into my journey I began to feel heavy, my head hurt and my tummy felt like it was on a roller coaster. I dozed off and by the time I reached Turku I was feeling better.
My good friends in Turku were there to meet me as I got off the train and they promptly whisked me away to their beautiful wooden cottage in the forest. We passed a very pleasant evening together with great food, nice wine and fabulous conversation, it was like a home from home. The weather was mild so in the evening we went into the garden to sit on the porch and look at the moon, she was full and bright and silvery, she hung like a huge disc in the sky. Mesmerised we gazed at her and soaked up her shimmering rays.
Before too long I began to feel unwell again. I put it down to tiredness and too much merriment. I went to bed.
During the night I began to feel ill again. Every bit of me ached but worse was to come. My legs and arms were very painful and it felt as though I was on fire. I tried to get out of bed but my legs buckled underneath me. I was horrified to see huge red patches on my skin and it felt as though my energy was just seeping away. I willed myself to stay awake but it was hard as I was exhausted, extremely hot and in pain.
Eventually morning came; my hosts took one look at me and called an ambulance.
It was the most surreal experience of being put on a stretcher, placed in an ambulance in the middle of a forest but I was so ga-ga that we might as well have been on Mars! I kept dropping in and out of consciousness and I could actually feel my brain becoming more and more disconnected from the moment.
Once we were at the hospital the wheels started rolling. After several tests it transpired I had St. Anthony’s fire (Erysipelas) which is very fiery and intense, caused by a strain of streptococci.
Before antibiotics it was a much feared disease. As far back as the 11C it was particularly prevalent in infants and was named after St. Anthony who is the patron saint of lost causes! Treatment is severe - two injections of penicillin twice a day in the posterior. I was so poorly that I happily took the injections. This went on for several days and to my great sadness I had to cancel the events I had been so much looking forward to, this meant a financial setback was inevitable as was the demise of an opportunity to be with my Finnish tribe.
I was lucky to be staying with good people who truly cared for me.
I gradually got stronger and we spent the evenings moon gazing, she whispered to me that I must think twice before I go to such a place as the Witches Museum in Tallinn. On my return home I decided to utilise this experience and make it into something good.
Every August I have a personal meditation and healing session where I commemorate the lost souls who were tortured as witches, violated as women and yes to seek healing for the perpetrators.
If my illness was a stark reminder of the women that went before that paid such a huge price for their gender and their natural wisdom then I hope my petition is heard. For the women that were with me that day, I hope they find their liberty and in so doing I hope to find mine.