on 19 August 2002
I was bitterly disappointed with this book. After visiting Astuvansalmi in the Savo region of Eastern Finland, discussing Juhannus superstitions with Finnish friends (wildflowers under the pillow, "rye-swimming") and then being bewitched by the collections in the national museum I was hoping for a balanced, factual, well written and informative book (in English!) about pre-Christian religious beleifs in my adopted homeland. Instead the author witters on ad-nauseum about "spiritual beleifs" in general, briefly mentioning the Finns or Lapps before taking off at on a tangent about native american shamen, Scandinavian mythology (NOT Finnish!) and his own family history...Precious little research or appreciation of the subject. Avoid like the plague.
on 17 July 1999
It is nothing but a shallow blend of wrong assumptions about the ancient finnish people. He mingles some of the Edred Thorsson interpretations of the nordic runes (which have nothing to do with finns). I found a lort of mistakes, very inacurrate things and even print errors, such as the very same sentence duplicated in one paragraph. He wrote that with very few (about 3%) valid sources that concern the topic, and a lot of non-related sources concerning amerindian shamanism, records from his own family and so on. You better read the Kalevala and interpret it your own way than read the ramblings of this so-proud-to-be-a-"Ph.D."-author (in psychology, which has nothing to do with the book topic). For the first half of the book, he tries to tell the reader how many Finns came to live and settle in America. In a way, he is trying to sell american readers the idea that the finns were important to american history, so they must buy this book if they want to achieve magic. This was definitely an attempt to cash on in the trends of neo-paganism, written under the style of many Llewellyn books, but with almost NO content. Email me if you want a more detailed review and a list of inacurracies and blatant stupidities contained in the book.
on 3 September 1999
The author mentions in the preface to this delightful book that he hopes it will help us all to become more aware of the sacredness in our lives. He has managed to cover a wide and fascinating range of material in a clear, succinct style, without resorting to either academic jargon or esoteric meandering. In other words, this is a book, which genuinely and accessibly conveys both the author's personal experience and his knowledge of his subject matter. It is a pleasure to read on any level.
As a British artist, I found many of his observations profound. His comments about multiple interpretations and observation link as directly to the creative arts as they do to the Kalevala and the magic of nature.
The Kalevala, for all its greatness, is not the easiest of epics to read without some kind of introduction. I feel certain that this book will encourage the interested reader to look further and perhaps reopen the pages of this great national epic.
In my own opinion and in that of several of my friends who have read this book, Dr Nelson has certainly achieved his aim and has indeed made us more aware of the sacredness in our lives. So our thanks go to him for it.
Christina Fletcher P.G.D.F.A. (London)
on 4 February 2000
I bought this book because my ex-girlfriend is Finnish, she is also a practising witch. Before I read the book I had no idea how deep the history of Finnish magic went, or indeed how far back Finnish history spanned. The book tells of centuries of Finnish customs beliefs and magical practises, as well as voyages into other lands, both physical and spiritual. It outlines cultural and ancestral influences of the Finns on other cultures, and of other cultures upon the Finns. Some excerpts from the Finnish national epic 'Kalevala' a magical and historic text are included. I didn't expect to find out much about the Finns as a race, but I have done, and now I'm more confused than ever!