|The Significance of Borders and Control of Space in Early Modern Witchcraft and Magic|
|Thomas Nokelainen, a 20 years old man from Huhtervu village in Karelia, noticed in summer 1693 that his uncle behaved suspiciously. The uncle went around the room where Thomas used to sleep. A little later Thomas fell ill. He concluded that his uncle, with whom he feuded, had bewitched him. Therefore he killed his uncle by an axe.
From our point of view, Thomas Nokelainen seems to be a little bit disturbed, or at least his reaction is very extreme. However, the short case illustrates some characters of early modern witchcraft and magic cases. All researchers who have studied early modern court records are aware that the records have cer-tain limitations as historical sources. It is not possible to reconstruct the whole body of magic and witch-craft from the records because cases were always selected in some sense. Although the clergymen and the administrators underlined that all forms of magic, both the white and black ones, were crimes against the law and God, and although they tried to root them up, the forms of harmful magic are overempha-sised in the source material. If so called common men accused each otherís of white magic, it usually happened either because there was a feud between them or because a magic rite had some way harmed them. This leads to two conclusions concerning popular conceptions of magic
1. There were certainly magic rites which were not thought to be harmful. These rites were quite com-monly used, for instance, in healing, to protect from witchcraft or to assure success in work and life.
2. The position of a rite specialist was ambivalent because s/he could use the same force for good and evil. In inner intention of a rite specialist was significant, not the form of a rite or the words. Witchcraft was, as some researchers have emphasised, a poisoned gift in a system of exchanges between people.
The aim of this paper is to show how early modern people manipulated space and borderlines by using magic rites. I will focus of two kinds of cases. Firstly, I will examine the occasions where a performer of a rite took an area under her/his control by mumbling and going around it. The aim of the rite was either to harm the persons and things or to protect the performer of a rite (who was, for example, healing a person).
Secondly, I will study cases in which the borders were thought be weak for some reason. The walls of a house normally protected from supernatural beings, witches and ghost. If someone, for instance, died at home, a window, a damper or a door was opened in order that the soul of the dead person could get out. These holes were weak spots on otherwise strong borderlines. I will study how and why they were pro-tected?|