The Naked Sorcerer

THE NAKED SORCERER – Tales of the Tietäjä

Mikael Öberg & Markus Luukkonen

The Naked Sorcerer is a bilingual show in English and Finnish, recounting the adventures of a Finnish folk healer – how he came to be a sorcerer, the challenges and obstacles of healing and how to find a way to pass the knowledge on to future generations. This fictional biography is composed from multiple sources in the Finnish folklore archives, such as biographical accounts of real life Tietäjäs, narratives from a certain Finnish type of magic spells, as well as epic Kalevala stories.

Tietäjä means ’the one who knows’. These folk healers were said to cure illnesses, ensure success in hunting, find lost things, explain dreams and foretell future events. Their repertoire of so called ’synty’ spells, narrative spells that recounts the origin or birth of various phenomena, played a crucial role in their magical practice and the Tietäjäs have been called ’verbal ecstatics’. Through these narrative spells, they created healing rituals that looked much like performances, and they were said to be skilled in improvising and recombining poetic themes in order to shape their performances according to the situation at hand.

We became interested in exploring these stories that have been shaped and used in a performative ritual setting by sorcerers – and ultimately also in exploring the stories of the sorcerers themselves. Their wielding of magic words reminded us of the craft of the storyteller, and we set out to let their ancient stories work their magic in a contemporary performance storytelling setting.


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