Valikko Sulje

The witch

A drawn picture of a lady that looks scared.

The Kolmiköytisenvuori rock paintings in Ruokolahti were made about 5000 BCE. The paintings are faint, but five human forms are discernible. It may be a depiction of a ritual journey, with a witch entering trance in the presence of a party accompanying her. The painting seems to show a person whose lower body has turned or is turning into a snake.

The witch is shaking, emitting a strange moaning sound from between her tight, grimacing lips. If they are words, I do not recognise them. I don’t want to go too close to the thing. The women are trying to stop the witch from hurting herself. They need to hold on pretty tight. The blood has already left their fingertips. The man watches in the background, looking busy but actually doing nothing. Rubs his swarthy scalp and gives some instructions to the headscarf-clad women. They are unlikely to pay attention. The witch’s legs kick the air wildly, the back is arched, and evil-sounding shrieks fill the air. She is like some strange bird, flapping and trying to take wing.

This goes on for some time. Then the man sees that the women will soon be unable to hang on to the struggling witch’s old body. He finally goes to it and grabs the witch’s legs. Grumbles something to me, but the words vanish far away over the lake. I feel like crying. I fight the tears and fear. Then, suddenly, the witch appears to have lost consciousness. The women let go of her. The man also takes his hands off her.

The witch lies half on her back on the rock, her limbs twitching slightly. The women’s Sunday clothes have picked up lichen off the rock surface and leaves fallen off nearby trees. They adjust their headscarves; the man tells us all to keep our distance. Staring at the witch, there seems to be slow, slithering movement in her skinny, age-withered legs.

Text: Pekka Vartiainen
Pictures: Anni Jokitalo
Translation: Annira Silver
Location on map

A drawn picture, where some women are holding still a creature that's half a human and half a snake.

The story and the pictures are a part of Tarinajoki book (River of Stories), made in Rural Explorer project. As part of a culture tourism project, stories arising from the body of folk narratives and history also have a function in relation to the productisation of tourism. The stories are linked to real locations.