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Folk medicine

I haven't posted anything for a couple of weeks. Mainly because I've been somewhat busy with my work as a massage therapist. I don't have a clinic of my own, instead I drive to people's homes. While driving I often think about ideas to write about in my blog, but then finally when I get back home I might feel too tired to concentrate on writing. But today my work begins in the afternoon, and I'm writing this with my morning coffee.

Many of my customers are elder people, and some of them like to tell memories and stories of the past times. Those people have seen the world changing a lot - one lady who now has a laptop with internet connection told that when she was a kid they didn't have electricity in the house. They were using kerosene lamps, and during the war when there was shortage of supplies they had to use home-made candles. In the post-war era there were plenty of people living in the countyside. Many families had a lot of children, almost every house had a cow or two. In the 1970's many people moved to cities or migrated to Sweden to look for a work. Nowadays there is only a handfull of active farms, and many houses have only one or two people living in them, some houses are used only as summer cottages.

Life in the post-war era was rather demanding. Most of the work was done manually, with horses and hardworking people. Some of my customers have told their memories about a massage therapist regularly visiting their home, giving massage for those in need. One lady told that as there wasn't always that much medication or official health-care available, they might see the massage therapist for all kinds of ailments, like toothache. Herbs were also used, and many families had knowledge about local plants suitable for self-aid. This knowledge was passed down from a geneartion to another. Another traditional form of healing was blood cupping. It is done in a warm sauna, using a small, sharp axe-like tool to let strained venous blood out from muscle tissue.

In my area lived a man who was a blacksmith and a healer using techniques of shamanistic trance. He was working as late as in the 1960's, and is often mentioned as the last of the traditional shamanistic healers. Many of the local people remember him, and some think he was just fooling people, and some believe in his talent. For example, if people had property lost or stolen, they could go see the blacksmith, who listened to them, then went into a state of trance, then telling them where to find the lost item. Apparently, sometimes he was succesfull, accurately describing who had stolen stuff and where it is hidden. (Those who don't believe in him claim that he must have obtained that information in a convenient way and then just putting up a show.) My neighbour has told that his sowing machine got a broken gear. He took the part to the blacksmith, who took it into his forge, and then - with his eyes rolling and mouth babbling he fiercely hammered it together, and the gear came out perfectly repaired.

Well, I feel that those old traditional ways of folk healing are still surviving. Yesterday one of my customers told that in a tiny village near Russian border there is a old man specialised in manual therapy bit like chiropractics. The story was that his parents had back pain and went to see the healer. With them they had their daughter, who had been suffering from asthma since her childhood. When the healer saw the daughter, he said that is it not actually asthma, as the problem is with her clavicle, which is a tiny bit misplaced causing problems for her lungs. After a fifteen minutes of treatment her asthma-like symptoms were gone for good.

In Kaustinen, in central Ostrobothnia, they also have a centre for teaching and practicing that kind of traditional manual folk therapy. The centre is some 200 kilometres away from my village, and many of the local people tell that they visit there to get a treatment. One recent story is about a man who was suffering from a nasty pain in his back, and the doctors couldn't find anything wrong with him, and painkillers and resting didn't make the pain go away. Then he decided to try visit that folk healing centre. In the centre one of the elder masters saw him, and judging from the way he walked immediately said: "Ah, the problem is with your knee. It makes your legs uneven, forcing your pelvis to tilt, which then makes your back sore." He got his knee manipulated, and after that the pain was gone.

EDIT: Added a picture of myself with blood cupping equipment.

blood cupping equipment
blood cupping equipment
tags: 
diary
folklore
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