Blakulla

IMG_1082_Oland_vid na drugoj ostrov Fig. 1

Blakulla, the “Blue Hill,” is the place that the Scandinavian countries believed that witches traveled to for their demonic sabbats. It is usually thought to be a mountain in distant countries or an island in the Baltic, and in the early modern period was identified with the island Jungfrun.[1] An early mention of this idea came from a Swedish miracle in 1410 with a story of how a ship was endangered and then saved in the sound between the mainland and Öland near Blakulla, which guarrenteed it as a site of peril early in the fifteenth century though it is not yet associated with witches.[2] By the Reformation the information about Blakulla focused on the diabolism and witches. The Scandinavians were exposed to these ideas through paintings of witches going to Blakulla that were portrayed in church murals and a manuscript titled Historia de gentibus septentrionalibus (Description of the Northern People) written by Sweden’s last Reformation-era Catholic archbishop.[3] This idea of the witches sabbat at Blakulla was not part of the medieval Nordic beliefs, but is similar to the Norse mythology where the forces of evil all gather together to fight the gods.[4] Once the idea of a witch’s journey to Blakulla was ingrained in the Scandinavian beliefs, it became a central part of the witch accusations in Scandinavia.

 

[1] Bengt Ankarloo, “Sweden: The Mass Burnings (1688-76),”in Early Modern European Witchcraft, ed. Benget Ankarloo and Gustav Henningsen (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990), 314.

[2] Stephen A. Mitchell, Witchcraft and Magic in the Nordic Middle Ages (Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011), 125.

[3] Ibid., 125-126.

[4] Ibid., 130

Fig. 1  Blå Jungfrun. 2007, Photograph, 800 x 533. Gallery Birzamzam. http://birzamzam.com/gallery/v/Sweden_001/IMG_1082_Oland_vid+na+drugoj+ostrov.jpg.html 

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Jungfran island
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