The Martin Croft Devil. A Finnish poltergeist tale.

The following is an English translation of a chapter in the book Olevaisen yöpuoli (1993) by Heikki Tikkala, a collection of poltergeist and ghost stories from Finland. The translation was done with permission from Mr. Tikkala himself. Translated by Salla Juntunen.


Martinin_torppa

(the Martin croft)

The poltergeist of Martin’s croft is not exceptional when it comes to the quality of the case – similar phenomena have occurred in most other Finnish cases of poltergeist disturbance. What makes Martin’s poltergeist particularly noteworthy is the associated trial, during which fifteen affidavits were filed. The weight of these witness statements is significant even on an international scale.

The witness statements from the trial have been presented in numerous writings, most recently in Jarl Fahler’s book Parapsychology. Therefore I will not recount them in full here. While describing the event I rely heavily on Matti Seppä’s thorough report, which reviews almost everything that is known about the case.

On January 12th of the year 1885, the croft of Efraim Martin, the chairman of Ylöjärvi’s parish assembly and a former teacher, became haunted. The croft’s three inhabitants, Efraim, his wife Eva, and Emma Lindroos, their 13-year-old maid, noticed objects moving inexplicably. The door would not stay closed, papers from shut desk drawers flew on the floor, tens of litres of plastering fell on the floor from somewhere. The phenomena seemed to centre around the fatally ill Emma. The haunting continued for a little over two weeks up until January 27th and then ended as abruptly as it had begun. The writings of Tampere newspapers drew out so many people that master Efraim saw it best to move to Tampere for a few days in order to escape the curious eyes. Many visitors were in high spirits and heavily inebriated, which was likely a factor in Martin getting served a summons to appear in court.

Efraim Martin (1814-1890)

Alerted by the rumours, parish bailiff Kasimir Liljestrand visited the place and sent the governor of the province of Häme a letter in which he attempted to sort out what had happened. In his response the governor ordered the Martins to be prosecuted for witchcraft and the illegal sale of alcohol.

The hearings for the Martin case were held at the district court of Ylöjärvi on March 24th. The charges were deemed unfounded, but the most interesting part of the trial were of course the eyewitness accounts of the haunting. Out of the fifteen people called as a witness only one reported that they had not observed anything supernatural. The rest described 78 inexplicable phenomena altogether. Many of the most impressive ones are found in the testimony of Efraim Eerola:

From January 14th onwards, throughout the whole period of time in question, the witness had visited the Martin croft every day. The first time he visited – – he noticed that the window screens of the living room were smudged with clay, as were the floor and the furniture. He did not, however, notice any visible damages in the wall plastering. Upon inspecting the window screens they appeared to be stained with soap, not, however, stroked by a human hand. In the presence of the witness, crumbled clay accumulated on the floor in an invisible manner without anyone touching it or noticing from where and how it came. Three whole baskets worth of clay crumbs accumulated. – – Clay appeared on the floor twice and both times it was swept away carefully.

When specifically asked, the witness explained that the room’s ceiling was somewhat fragile and cracked, but he was prepared to assure under oath that the clay did not appear on the floors through the ceiling, as such amounts of clay travelling through the air would certainly have been noticed. Furthermore, one day the witness observed a massive knife fly past his face six times in a row, although without hitting him. He assumed that the knife initially flew from the next room and was then moved back and forth by some inexplicable force.

When the witness took a break from smoking and laid his pipe on the table, the pipe flew into the air as did stones and whetstones, as if moved in the air by an invisible force. One day the witness saw various objects and books fly out of a drawer that had been locked and, due to prior similar events, bound shut by a firm rope, without the drawer ever even slightly opening. One morning he was told that the legs of the sheep in the barn were tied. He went to release them and as he left the barn the latch on the door spun around in an unexplainable manner. When he went to the living room, under the table were discovered some strange rocks and Efraim Martin’s glasses, which had been thrown there from the desk drawer without anyone knowing how. The frames of the glasses had partially snapped and appeared to be burned. All these and many other events the witness saw every day, although he could not now recall them in full detail, and he assured upon his word that they were not brought about by humans but by spirits or other forces unknown to the witness. – –

Witness Eerola furthermore added that one day when he was in the croft’s kitchen he noticed a large amount of medicine bottles containing nitric acid, hydrochloric acid and other private substances gather on the table in an unknown manner. The bottles began jumping spontaneously, spilling their contents on the table where they began to boil and foam. The witness was also present during the back end of the haunting when ladles, buckets and other such household items appeared in the oven and there caught fire. The witness also assured that no cellar was found underneath the Martin house and therefore no such items could have been hidden there since the room stood on hard rock, and that the witness never checked whether some stranger could have been hiding in the room’s loft.

Most commonly the witnesses saw objects moving for no reason. A key, a pot, a saw, a pair of shoes, a candlestick, a brick, a hymn book, a matchbox and a stool, among others, jumped or outright flew in the air even though no one moved them. The candlestick appeared to have been the most popular target:

Gustaf Hellen sat at the end of the table. At that moment a piece the size of an egg detached from the candlestick standing on the table and inexplicably flew atop Emma Lindroos’s head, rotated angularly and fell at the witness’s feet, rotated once more on the floor and rolled into the corner of the candlelit room.

Karl Lindholm saw a candlestick twice fly towards the door and on the third time to the back of the room. The witness could not figure out from where the candlestick flew, but he believed that it could not have been launched by any human means, as the candlestick moved in a spinning motion as if held up by an invisible force. The candlestick had moved in a slow weaving motion, always turned upside down. Simultaneously, a clatter was heard from beneath the table. – Helena Punala had been sitting by the table alone when the candlestick flew off of it, therefore it could not have been thrown by any human.

The bread poles were another favourite target of the disturbances, three incidents relate to them. On one occasion four people witnessed them moving:

Gerhard Grönfors had visited the Martins in the middle of the day on January 18th. On that occasion, in a room where neither the Martin couple nor Emma Lindroos were present, shingles in the corner of the oven began jumping and spinning around each other. Additionally, two bread poles in the corner danced and struck together. At this point Eva Martin arrived, took one of the poles in her hand and slammed it to the floor three times saying: “Won’t you behave.” The witness inspected the corner in which the poles had stood thoroughly and found nothing suspicious. Alku Eerola confirmed Grönfors’s description and explained that he also inspected the corner. Gustaf Hellen and Henrik Asuntila also concurred with their statement.

The most famous singular phenomenon in the Martin disturbance was the knife flying six past Efraim Eerola’s face times in a row; it is referenced not only in Eerola’s witness statement but also in the broadside ballad written about the event. These witness statements clearly demonstrate objects flying unnaturally slowly or weavingly, which is typical of a poltergeist. In most cases, however, the objects simply flung themselves around.

There are some statements of teleportation, or objects transfering inexplicably. The accumulation of plastering on the floor must likely be considered teleportation since according to Efraim Eerola’s statement no one could explain where it came from. The case of Efraim Martin’s papers flying on the floor from a drawer tied with string without the string untying, which Alku Eerola also describes in his witness statement, must also be counted among unexplainable events.

martin

(another shot of the croft)

There were hardly any sound phenomena linked to the Martin poltergeist. On a few occasions the witnesses mention an unexplainable clatter or rumble. The clearest case has to do with the visit of sexton Lindell. The sexton had come to the croft to write a news piece, but had relocated to the shed in the yard due to the restlessness of the cottage.

Alerted by the noise, sexton Lindell hurried back into the room. There he saw the two boards of a dining table banging on its legs. When the witness pressed the other board with his knee, the other struck that much harder. Therefore the sides of the table were bound and also wedged with ropes for a good measure. Now the boards stayed immobile, but a puffing sound came from between them. The table jumped spontaneously a few times, approximately an inch off the floor. No hatches, loose planks or secret strings were observed by the sexton and therefore he did not deem it necessary to inspect other parts of the room.

The moving of objects and teleportation are the most strongly substantiated phenomena of the Martin croft. The testimony of sexton Lindell which stated that the spirit tied Emma Lindroos with rope as she lay in her bed is also rather interesting. The case of Eva Martin’s hands catching fire, which was mentioned in Jarl Fahler’s book, was proved by Matti Seppä to be a translation error: the witness meant that candles wouldn’t stay in Eva Martin’s hands.

The study of the case of the Martin croft is based almost exclusively on court documents. There is not a single eyewitness to be found in folk tales. An interesting addition to the case, however, is baron Schrenck-Notzig’s account of the haunting. He had received the German translation of the court transcripts as well as some additional information from his doctor colleague Yrjö Kulovesi from Tampere.

In 1921, Kulovesi had interviewed Efraim Martin’s then 79-year-old son Berndt Erland Martin in Tampere. Berndt Martin had not been home at the time of the haunting. The only witness Kulovesi met was Emil Keso, a householder from Aitolahti. He had visited the Martins together with Simo Laalahti and Efram Eerola, who was mentioned in the court transcripts.

The guests arrived between three and four in the afternoon. It was still light in the cottage. As they sat down, Laalahti’s mitten was thrown to Keso’s side of the bench. Keso then said: “Enough with the tricks, didn’t we just agree to avoid such mischief.” His mittens then flew away as well. Laalahti claimed that he had not thrown the mittens. In order to observe the situation as clearly as possible, the men sat on chairs in the middle of the room. Suddenly shingles began to fall from the beams in front of Keso’s feet. They flew closely side by side as if tied together by an invisible force, and when they fell at his feet they did not slide at all in the direction one would expect, but rather stayed still as if captured by a mysterious power. Ten shingles fell, all in all. In the room at the time were Eva Martin, Efraim Eerola and both householders. Keso could not recall if Emma Lindroos had also been present. At the same time, cobbler’s tools were thrown from the corner to Laalahti’s feet.

The Martin haunting was so versatile and the eyewitness statements so detailed that the ghost has certainly earned its international reputation. As the only Finnish poltergeist it rose to international fame when the court transcripts were published as widely distributed pamphlets. Considering the weight of the material it is therefore strange that the ghost was soon buried into dusty local history publications as a mere freak of folk religion. A truly encompassing analysis of the Martin poltergeist and its impact on our worldview remains in unmade in our cultural conversation.

kyltti-kummitustalolle

(a sign indicating the spot where the croft once stood. The sign says: “The spot of Efraim Martin’s croft. The building was moved downtown after Efraim’s death in the 1890s.” Photo: Pentti Säynäväjärvi)

Your scary experiences, Spring 2018

Once again, I made a request to my Instagram followers (instagram.com/mysteries_crimes_curiosities) to send me their creepy experiences. Here they are, presented as they were sent to me, unedited.

Thank you to everyone who contributed!


Jacquie:

So my older sister has a quinsiñera doll and its porcelain so everytime you moved her you hear a little scratch. So one time me and my sister were up till like 3:00A.M and we were laying on her bed playing a game and out of no where we hear the little scratch of the porcelain doll. As we were both scared he went to each others bed and went to sleep.

Kevin:

I was 7 and I went to throw out the garbage at 11 at night. As I was walking back to my apartment door I saw a man following me.

He kept following me for days until I yelled in my squeaky voice that he was annoying and then he simply said “ You will learn that people can be so much worse than annoying!“

I was in fear and I moved with my parents the month after.

Ezequiel:

Last Saturday in Buenos Aires there was a party of electronic music. At 3:30 in the morning a lightning bolt fell behind the stage. If it fell in the middle of the stadium we would be lamenting many dead. My friends and I left when the lightning struck. And outside, a hail storm hit us. We were terrified and I think I never felt so much that I was going to die like that day.

Here’s a video of the lightning: YouTube link

Contributor wishes to remain anonymous:

My husband and I were staying on The Queen Mary one weekend as a short getaway. We love the Queen Mary and have stayed on it before, including once for our honeymoon. This time however, when we checked in the receptionist told us that we’d have a windowless room, and asked if we would have a problem with it. Apparently it makes guests feel uncomfortable or claustrophobic. We told her it would be fine and checked into our room.

We walked around the ship taking pictures to see if we could capture an paranormal activity on film. We didn’t. The next day however, my husband took a shower while I ran to the Starbucks on board to get coffee. On my way back I was walking through the hall and heard footsteps that sounded like high heels, coming up behind me. I got to our door after speed walking, and when I looked around there was nobody in the hallway with me. I got in the room as my husband was coming out of the bathroom. I told him what I had heard. And as he was about to give me a “yeah right” the shower in our bathroom turned on. It wasn’t just a drip or a slow leak. It had turned on and my husband had to turn it all the way off.

I text my sister and mom because they are super into paranormal stuff. My sister asked what room we were in and looked up all the “haunted” rooms online. Turns out we were staying in one of the rooms with the most reported activity. It freaked us out when it happened. But then it was kind of cool to be able to tell the story at the same time.

Josi:

My husband and I have always been fans of the paranormal so when we first started dating our ideal dates involved paranormal/ horror / conspiracy type shenanigans.

I remember we had talked about using a Ouija board  but neither of us had one nor had ever used one. A friend had offered up his for us to use and experience. The night we got the board something came up and I had to go home early, leaving the board at my boyfriend’s house.

Later that night I was doing my usual stuff before bed, falling asleep fairly quickly. I usually wake up a few times at night to go to the bathroom so I’m no stranger to wandering my house in the dark, but but this instance was different. I opened my eyes and usually moonlight goes through my window and lights the room up but everything was pitch black. No outline to anything, just pure darkness. The entire room was so quiet and cold.

I tried to move to get my blanket but I was just stuck, petrified. I had heard of sleep paralysis but this seemed much more sinister. My breathing was so heavy, as if someone was sitting  on my chest. I couldn’t move, as if I were being held down by heavy chains, and in the corner of my eye, three large figures were at the foot of my bed as if observing me. I couldn’t see their faces but I knew they were three. They seemed to be darker than the darkness that filled my room.

This feeling of dread just came over me and engulfed me with such fear. I felt as if I were doomed, that I was losing everything I’ve ever loved, among other feelings I can not describe. I’m not sure out of all that I had remembered a prayer my great grandmother had taught me as a kid and so I began to say it in my head. I heard a voice in Spanish so clearly whisper in my ear: “Dont use the ouija board, return it”, and I felt this warm hug and this milky light illuminated the room. The feeling of dread was vanishing and I fell into a deep sleep.

When I woke up the next morning, I called my boyfriend to tell him we were returning the board. He agreed because he said when he brought it into his house, his mom flipped out and demanded he take it outside (she later told us her ouija story ) so he took it out and put it in his truck.

Later that night he had to take the trash out, and he lives in the woods so there’s always noise going, so he took the trash out and upon walking back he had a weird feeling someone was in his truck. He said everything got quiet and eerily still and  his dog was snarling at his truck showing her full teeth. She’s a fairly docile dog so this was out of character for her. Even weirder: he couldn’t move, he couldn’t look away from the vehicle. He was just standing there in fear. He said he felt so terrified to move, when he finally snapped out of it he turned around to go back in the house. When he stepped foot on the porch the light bulb busted, shattering little pieces of glass everywhere. He locked the doors and didn’t go back out till morning.

Needless to say we did return the board to my friend who insisted he closed it properly but who knows what would have happened if we had used the board.

Contributor wishes to remain anonymous:

I’m [name], I’m from Mexico and I’d like to share what happened to me last February.

It was my birthday on February 24th, I was in a party with my friends. Then I decided to leave the party to go to another place. I went to a friend’s house, and I was waiting for him outside of his house when a guy appeared of nowhere and asked me for a street. I said I didn’t know where it was. He stared at me and I felt uncomfortable so I moved. He pushed me through the wall and I started to scream, I thought he wanted my purse, money or something, so I gave my cell phone to him. He said “I don’t want your cellphone” In that moment he just cut my neck with a cutter and ran away.

My friend arrived and a guy on a bike saw everything so he went looking for this person. The police and the ambulance arrived and they took me to the hospital where I was told it was a miracle I was alive – he cut 15 cm of my neck, 19 stitches were necessary.

2 months have passed and I´m healing. It still hurts but I feel stronger, I feel good. This event opened my eyes in some many aspects of my life but at the same time, sometimes I feel angry, sad, scared, so many things I didn’t think it was possible to feel. So this is what happened, the day I could’ve died, it was the day I started living.

 

Holly:

So I found out once that you can just use a candle to talk to the dead instead of an ouija board. But that was a really bad idea because my house used to be haunted but a couple years ago my family realized that the ghost may have passed on (the ghost was a middle aged woman, we found out through our neighbors). And also my dad used to be a grave digger so he probably carried many spirits. So once I tried to contact someone through a candle and I forgot to say goodbye before I blew out the candle. Which means I left sort of a portal to the other side open…

The next day I was taking a nap and I thought my sister was clapping to try and wake me up but at the time my mum was up stairs and said that there wasn’t anyone up there, another thing that happened when I was asleep was that it felt like someone was bouncing on my bed but again no one was there, then a few nights later someone was literally pulling my hair and when I turned around no one was there and I was in my bedroom alone, and every couple days I get the worst cramp in my leg and I never had it before I lit that candle. I think the ghost is a child playing around but nothing has happened for a few days now but I’m not sure if the ghost is gone.

Alyssa:

So, my mom went to Wilkes University back in 1979/1980, before the Internet. At the time, there wasn’t enough housing for all the students, so the college rented out a nearby hotel, the Hotel Sterling, built in 1897, finished in 1898.

Now, my mom said there was a ghost in her room. She said all the ghost would do was sit in a chair and watch them, but both my mom and her roommate had actually seen her. My mom said the ghost was wearing old fashioned wear, probably around the 1800’s if she had to guess. They called the ghost Emma, because that was the name the ghost seemed to like. As she had only told me the other day, I decided to google the hotel and see if anyone named Emma had ever died there, expecting to get back nothing. Instead, it turns out Emma E. Sterling was the name of the woman who oversaw the building of the hotel, primarily after her husband passed away.

IG @female_snoop

My experience: was arguing with my 5 year old last week and I told her “No”. She turned around and said to me: “Mom, do you remember when you were the kid and I was the mom?” So of course I tell her “No I don’t, because I’ve always been the mom and you’re my baby. It’s been like that for 5 years.” Her response: “Well you’re wrong because I remember. . . They told you and my dad who wasn’t my dad that you had to go somewhere and when I tried to tell them they weren’t taking you nowhere they chopped all our heads off.”

Ummm… What? So I told her “No one has chopped our heads off and don’t talk like that no more”. Her last response “I didn’t say anything bad. I told you what happened when I was the mom, you don’t remember. And I do.”

That was the end. And now I can’t look at my child the same in a way.

Caroline Hochmuth (IG @carolinehochmuth):

Bro once I was watching the movie Grave Encounters 2 with two of my friends in his basement with all the lights off. During the scene where the ghosts pick up the camera and start recording the characters a light turned on in the closet across the room. Keep in mind the closet door was mostly closed, we were the only ones on that level of the house, and it was a regular light switch just inside the closet. We have no idea how it happened and weird shit still goes down in the basement anytime I house sit for them.

IG @trisarahtops1228:

About 10 years ago I was by myself in my car in traffic about to make a left turn, and out of habit I checked for traffic coming from my right. When I looked, a very good friend, Rebecca, was sitting in my passenger seat where no one had been sitting – because I was alone. She looked right at me and smiled. When I realized what I saw I looked again and no one was there, but this made me think about her and I hadn’t spoken to her in a long time, so I decided to go on her MySpace (okay maybe it was longer than 10 years ago lol) and send her a message and see how she was and what she was up to.

When I got to her page there were all these memorials and RIP messages to her! I was so confused so I contacted a girl who had been her roommate. My friend had been killed in a car accident 3 months before I saw her. I think she was telling me goodbye. I never saw her again.

Claire:

My ghost story definitely isn’t the scariest, but it’s the event that made me really question the existence of the paranormal.

There was nothing special about the night that it happened. My father and sister had gone out for dinner, and I had chosen to stay home and work on homework. To help me concentrate, I had put my earphones in and closed my bedroom door. It was about 30 minutes after my family had left the house that a muffled sound had come from the lower floor of the house (my room was on the second, for reference). I know the sounds that my house makes, and what I heard – or thought I had heard – was the door to the garage slamming shut. I had just assumed that it was my dad and sister. Maybe they’d decided not to eat after all? I yelled out “Hey!”, but there was no response. I found it kind of weird that no one replied but didn’t think much of it.

A few minutes later, I could hear footsteps approaching my room, strong enough to be heard over the classical music playing in my ears. I pulled one bud out and managed to catch the noise with a bit more clarity, and whatever was making the noise seemed to stop abruptly at my door. There were no visible shadows that I could see in the space between the door itself and the floor. When the footsteps didn’t continue on, as they probably would’ve if they belonged to anyone in my family, I began to freak out. I didn’t move from my position until later, when my dad entered my room to announce that him and my sister had come back home. I asked them if they had been at the house for a while, but they had only just arrived.

Months later, I decided to talk to both of them about the incident, and my father disclosed that he had had a similar experience when we first moved into the home. It definitely freaked me out at first, but years later, we make light of our haunted house. We even have a name for the ghost: Linda.

IG @ms.aakrity:

When I lived in Roseville California in 2017, I was always so afraid of this apartment.  I don’t know of what or what made me afraid I just had the feeling of being scared, I had the feeling that something was there.  My restroom was across the hallway just a few steps away from my room.  But I was always so mortified at night to go to the restroom.  If I did manage the courage to go to the restroom I would walk in and out as quickly as possible and not even look towards the living room.  I was so afraid that something or someone was in the living room.

While living in this apartment I also had nightmares.  Some really bizarre and scary ones. I’d be so scared that I would wake up and not want to go back to sleep.  But I was awake just shaking in my boots thinking of what was in the living room or outside my door.   In our living room we had a chimney.  I could always hear noises coming from the chimney specially at night it sounded  like wind. One of my dreams was that I had a vision of my living room.  In my dream it was dark. The chimney was on and fully lit.  There was a little boy very close standing right in front of the chimney.  I only saw his back but he was small like 2 years old.  I woke up so scared thinking that the little boy got hurt standing that close to the chimney.

Outside the restroom towards the right side there was a wall filled with cabinets for storage.  They were very big from the floor to the top. One day at night roughly like at 7 pm I was coming out of the restroom.  Outside the restroom door near the cabinets  I saw a little boy standing near the cabinets.  He was looking down, I could only see the top of his head, the forehead and hair.   I thought it was my baby boy.  I was looking at him with a big smile thinking that he was waiting for me outside the door.  But suddenly I saw my baby coming from the left side.  I was so shocked and I look to the right side but the other little boy was gone.  This happened so fast in a matter of seconds but it scared the crap out of me.  At times I thought it was the little boy from my dream, I thought that maybe he had burned in the chimney.

I remember one time I was in the kitchen cooking. My baby boy was roughly a little bit over 1 year old.  He was in the kitchen playing on the floor with his toys.  Suddenly I hear him whining, and he starts crying.  So, I look at him and he comes towards me really quickly.  I ask my baby what’s wrong but he can’t speak because he’s still very young.  But I could see that he was scared he was hiding behind my legs he was still whining and peeking towards his toys as if he was seeing something.

One night while sleeping I felt a tap on my shoulder.  I woke up and looked towards my husband thinking he had woken me up. But he was sound asleep.  I went back to sleep but the days to come I was always so afraid that someone was going to tap my shoulder again.  I used to leave the door from my room cracked open just like 1-2 inches so that when my husband left to work he wouldn’t make noise opening the door since the baby was sleeping.  Most of the time while living in this apartment I had a hard time falling asleep.  At times I would just be on my bed using my phone, other times I’d just be tossing and turning.  But I would always stare at the door.  I was so afraid that someone would open the door completely.  I was afraid that someone was outside the door watching me.

My husband is the type of sleeper that when he goes to sleep he doesn’t wake up at all during the night. He also never remembers his dreams.  He says he never dreams.  One night while playing on my phone and having a hard time falling asleep.  With the corner of my right eye I saw orbs of light towards the side of my husband.  So I turn my head towards him and he suddenly wakes up and asks “where is the baby?” I replied “he’s sleeping.” My husband got up and went to the restroom.  When he came back I asked him if he had a nightmare.  But he replied “something woke me up but I can’t remember what it was.” The next day I asked him about the incident but he had no recollection of what happened or him waking up and going to the restroom.

One night I was in the kitchen washing the dishes.  My baby and husband were already asleep.  As I’m washing the dishes with the corner of my left eye I saw something moving.  I look towards it and saw a bubble of smoke it was small like the size of a quarter.  I smelled it and and it had a burning smell and it disappeared.  I didn’t think much of it but I did get scared thinking that maybe something in the apartment was burning. But I looked around everywhere specially the electrical outlets but found nothing.

In another incident, it was late at night and I was picking up my baby’s toys.  As I’m picking up the toys I hear his train go on. This was my baby’s favorite toy.  It was a huge train 3X3 and you press the buttons and it plays music and it says the ABC and numbers.  On this day I was a few feet away when I heard it playing music.  I tried to calm myself down and kept picking up the rest of the toys but again the train started playing music.  I just got so scared left the toys and went to the room.

During the time I lived in this apartment I was studying for an exam I had to take.  I used to study at night when my baby was sleeping.  I would sit in the living room and study.  But I was always so afraid.  At times I’d be scared of looking at the reflection on the tv I thought that I’d see someone else sitting next to me.  There was always an awkward silence it’s hard to explain.  One time my sister came to visit me and after I didn’t live in the apartment anymore.  I shared with her my stories and how scared I felt living in that apartment.  My sister told me that one day when she visited me she was falling asleep and felt someone sitting on the bed.  She said she was so afraid to look but she felt very scared.

Thankfully I no longer live in this apartment.  These are the  incidents that happened to me in roughly 1 year of living there.  At times I think about it and still get the chills.  Other times I get sad because I was so uncomfortable living there.  I was always tired because of the lack of sleep and my husband is so skeptical he never believed anything I said to him.

Interview with Mauri Karvonen, researcher of Finnish ghost stories. (Suomeksi alempana)

Mauri Karvonen is a Finnish researcher and historian who specialuzes in stories of ghosts and haunted houses. He has released a book entitled Aavetaloja ja ihmiskohtaloita (“Haunted Houses and Human Fates”). A sequel to the book will be released next month.

Thank you Mauri for taking the time to talk to Books, Bullets and Bad Omens!


 

DSC01726

1.) Who are you? Tell us a bit about yourself!

My name is Mauri Karvonen and I live in Jyväskylä, Finland at the moment. I have a Master’s degree in Finnish history. I work as a historian, writer and researcher of paranormal topics. Of course, my work entails lots of other things as well, like lecturing and doing readings as an author.

My hobbies are cycling, swimming, exploring the outdoors, reading, history, culture and traveling, mostly within Finland.

2) How did you end up writing about haunted houses?

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been interested in old buildings, their history and the people who lived in them. Ghost stories have been an elemental part of this wider interest. That’s how it all got started for me. Over the years I’ve visited hundreds, if not thousands of houses that are said to be haunted.

Before graduating from university in 2014 I started thinking about what I should write about. That’s when I got the idea of combining my hobby with my profession, and ended up writing about haunted houses.

3) Are you interested in paranormal topics in general, or just ghosts?

Ghosts and haunted houses are my number 1 interest, but I’m interested in all kinds of mysteries, as well as UFOs.

4) Tell us about the process of researching and writing your book! Is it hard to find people who will open up about this subject to you?

The process begins with generating an interesting idea and establishing a contact with it. Each of my books has 12 houses. Then I start a process of light background research that entails looking into the history of a location, it’s people and ghost stories. Next, I visit the location myself to look for sources of information and take photographs. I take both daytime and night time photos. I also try to spend a night at the location I plan to write about.

While at a location, I also try to interview people. Finding people who will talk to you is usually fairly easy, since a particular story can’t really be connected with a particular source, so informants are able to maintain their anonymity. They usually speak very openly once they’ve warmed up. I’ve noticed that people have become more and more open about these [paranormal] topics, at least when they talk to us professionals.

5) What is the history of Finnish ghost stories like? Is there something different about them compared to ghost stories from other countries?

Ghost stories have been told in Finland for hundreds of years; they used to be a popular form of entertainment. The oldest story featured in my books is from the 1200s, I think.

The tradition of ghost stories is fairly uniform across the globe, and the stories are fairly similar everywhere, though I want to stress that each story is unique in itself.

6) What types of houses does the haunting lore attach itself to? Old mansions, that sort of a thing?

Yes, mostly old historical places like castles, theaters, mansions etc., but stories are told about new buildings, too. I myself research only historical buildings and their stories.

7) The term “ihmiskohtaloita” (“human fates”) is included in the title of your book. What types of “human fates” does one find behind ghost stories and stories of haunted houses?

There is usually a sad human story behind a ghost tale, but there are also happy incidents and fates. There doesn’t always have to be a murder or an accident or anything like that for a story to live on. Take, for example, the story of Märtha Rosenlaw and the Vanajanlinna Castle, from my first book.

My main interest is, indeed, the people behind the stories of haunted houses and ghosts. I sometimes jokingly say that my job is private detective work in the world of history and ghost stories.

aavetaloja

8) Do you have a favorite ghost story?

I’m interested in all different kinds of stories. I know hundreds of them, so I don’t really have any one favorite. I’d say I’m most affected by stories related to children and child ghosts.

9) How does the haunting phenomenon “work”, in your opinion? Do you believe there is a genuine supernatural force behind it, or something else?

Because I only research stories, I have not really researched the phenomenon itself. To put it bluntly, I would say that perhaps ghosts have some sort of unfinished business on Earth, making them return to the world of the living, if they ever left it in the first place.

There are some views according to which ghosts consists of different kinds of energies. It’s also said that ghosts are humans who never realized they died, and think they are still alive. Other ghosts, on the other hand, may have gotten “stuck” here on Earth, unable to live after their death, while still others cross the border between life and death every now and then, and come back to visit the living.

10) Have you yourself ever experienced anything paranormal?

I have seen so many of these haunted houses during my life that it’s inevitable that I’ve come across paranormal incidents myself as well. 95 percent of such incidents have a natural explanation, but then there’s the remaining 5 percent that is left without a rational basis. So I’m “skeptically curious” *smile*

11) You will soon release a sequel to your book. Tell us about it!

“Aavetaloja ja ihmiskohtaloita 2 – Hyytävä matka Suomen historiaan jatkuu” (“Haunted Houses and Human Fates 2- the creepy journey to the history of Finland continues”) will come out in May. Compared to the first book, the stories in this sequel are collected from a wider geographical spectrum. The sequel also makes more of a use of archives, interviews and other source materials. In keeping with the spirit of my books, I’ve placed great emphasis on versatility.

Because this year marks the 100th anniversary of Finland’s civil war, I’ve also researched stories related to it. War in general features more heavily in the stories in this sequel.

12) Where can people keep up with your work and buy your books?

The best way to follow my work is through my Facebook page:

http://www.facebook.com/aavetalojajaihmiskohtaloita

So go ahead and take a peek at my work, and leave a “Like”!

My books are available in all kinds of bookstores, both physical and web stores. If you want a copy with my signature, you can order directly through my site. You can also follow my work in the media, and I am available for lectures if you’re interested in holding your own event.

13) Is there anything you’d like to add that I forgot to ask about?

All is well 🙂

And finally, my regular questions.

14) Your top 3 films?

1) Downfall (2004)

2) Braveheart (1995)

3) Käsky (2008, English title “Tears of April”)

15) Your top 3 books?

1) Suomen kartanoita (“Finland’s Mansions”) by Dahl & Gardberg

2) Ammattina vankikarkuri (“Profession: Prison Escapee”) by Jan Jalutsi

3) Hävittäkää Helsinki! (“Destroy Helsinki!”) by Antero Raevuori

16) What model phone do you use?

Some very old piece of junk by Huawei.


1) Kuka olet? Kerro hieman itsestäsi!

Nimeni on Mauri Karvonen ja asun Jyväskylässä tällä hetkellä. Koulutukseltani on FM, Suomen historian asiantuntija. Työskentelen historian- ja rajatiedontutkijana sekä kirjailijana. Työhöni kuuluu toki paljon muutakin kuten esim. Luennot ja kirjailijavierailut. Harrastan pyöräilyä, uintia, ulkoilua, lukemista, historiaa, kulttuuria ja matkustelua lähinnä kotimaassa. 

2) Kuinka päädyit kirjoittamaan aavetaloista?

Olen ollut lapsesta asti kiinnostunut vanhoista rakennuksista, niiden historiasta ja siellä eläneistä ihmisistä. Niitä olellinen osa on ollut kummitustarinat. Siitä kaikki on lähtenyt liikkeelle. Vuosien saatossa olen kiertänyt satoja ellen tuhansia paikkoja joissa väitetään kummittelevan. Ennen valmistumistani yliopistosta (2014) aloin miettimään mitä alkaisin kirjoittamaan kun se eniten kiinnosti. Sitten sain idean yhdistää ammatti ja harrastus ja näin päädyin kirjoittamaan aavetaloista.

3) Oletko kiinnostunut yliluonnollisista ilmiöistä ylipäätään, vai ainoastaan aaveista?

Kyllä ykkösenä tulee aaveet ja ennenkaikkea aavetarinat. Toki olen aina ollut kiinnostunut kaikenlaisista mysteereistä ja ufoista. 

4) Kerro kirjan kirjoitusprosessista. Millaista sitä oli tutkia ja kirjoittaa? Oliko haastateltavia helppoa löytää? Puhuivatko ihmiset yleisesti ottaen teemasta avoimesti, vai välttelivätkö aave-aihetta jonkinlaisen leimaantumisen pelossa?

Prosessi lähtee liikenteeseen mielenkiintoisen kohteen löytämisellä ja sen kontaktoimisella. Jokaisessa kirjassa on 12 kohdetta. Sitten aloitan kevyen taustatutkimuksen liittyen paikan historiaan, ihmisiin joita siellä on elänyt ja aavetarinoihin. Seuraavaksi menen paikan päälle tutustumaan paikkaan, etsimään lähteitä ja kuvaamaan. Kuvaan sekä yöllä, että päivällä. Pyrin myös yöpymään paikan päällä. Samalle kertaa yleensä haastattelen ihmisiä suunnitelman mukaan. Kyllä haastateltavat on yleensä helppo löytää. Tiettyä tarinaa kun ei pysty yhdistämään tietyn henkilön kertomaksi. Kyllä puhuvat aiheesta avoimesti kunhan ollaan päästy alkuun. Olen huomannut, että aiheesta jutellaan entistä avoimemmin, ainakin meille ammattilaisille.

5) Millainen on suomalaisten kummitustarinoiden historia? Onko niissä jotakin erityistä/erilaista verrattuna vaikkapa ulkomaiden kertomusperinteeseen?

Kummitustarinoita on kerrottu Suomessa satoja vuosia, olihan ne muinaisten aikojen viihdykettäkin. Kirjasarjani kakkososassa vanhin tarina taisi olla 1200-luvulta. Kertomusperinne on aika samanlainen ympäri maailman ja tarinat ovat samankaltaisia, mutta kuitenkin painotan, että jokainen tarina on kuitenkin uniikki.

6) Millaisiin taloihin kummitteluiden/aaveiden folklore kiinnittyy? Vanhat kartanot tms?

Kyllä kärkipäässä on ns. historialliset paikat kuten linnat, teatterit, kartanot jne, mutta kyllä tarinoita kerrotaan ihan uusistakin rakennuksista. Itse toki tutkin vain historiallisia kohteita ja niiden tarinoita. 

7) Kirjasi nimessä esiintyy termi “ihmiskohtaloita”. Millaisia ihmiskohtaloita kummittelujen taustalta löytyy?

Kyllä tarinan taakse usein kätkeytyy, joku surullinen ihmiskohtalo, mutta myös iloisia tapahtumia ja kohtaloita. Aina ei siis tarvi olla murha, onnettomuus tms, että tarina on jäänyt elämään. Tästä esimerkkinä vaikkapa Märtha Rosenlewin tarina Vanajanlinnasta, joka on ykkösosassa. Tutkin nimenomaan oikeita ihmisiä tarinoiden taustalta ja onko niitä. Olen leikilläni sanonut, että tämä on salapoliisityötä historian ja aavetarinoiden maailmassa.

8) Onko sinulla suosikkitarinaa kummitustarinoiden alueelta?

Itseäni kiinnostaa kaikki mahdolliset tarinat. Tiedän satoja tarinoita, joten ei ole yksittäistä suosikkia. Itseäni ehkä eniten koskettaa lapsiin tai lapsihaamuihin liittyvät tarinat ja kohtalot.

9) Miten kummitteluilmiö syntyy? Uskotko että sen takana on aito yliluonnollinen voima, vai jotakin muuta?

Koska tutkin vain tarinoita niin en ole itse ilmiötä niinkään tutkinut. Lyhyesti ja ytimekkäästi itse ilmiöstä sanoisin, että kenties aaveella on jäänyt täällä jokin asia kesken, että pitää palata elävien maailmaan tai sitten ei malta lähteä kuotuaankaan. On olemassa yleisiä käsityksiä kuten, että aaveet ovat erilaisia energioita. Kerrotaan myös, että aaveet eivät tajuaisi itse olevansa kuolleita vaan elävänsä edelleen. Toiset taas on jääneet tänne puolelle “jumiin” ja toiset palaa rajan takaa takaisin silloin tällöin.

10) Oletko itse koskaan kokenut mitään yliluonnollista?

Olen niin monta paikkaa elämäni aikana, että kyllä väkisin on vastaan tullut jotain yliluonnollista. 95% ilmiöille löytyy luonnollinen selitys, mutta sitten onkin jäljellä se 5% mille ei löydy selitystä. Olen siis skeptisen utelias.:D 

11) Julkaiset pian jatkoa kirjallesi. Kerro hieman mitä on odotettavissa?

Kirjasarjani saa jatkoa tosiaan pian. Aavetaloja ja ihmiskohtaloita osa 2. – Hyytävä matka Suomen historiaan jatkuu- ilmestyy toukokuussa. Ensimmäiseen osaan verrattuna on kohteet enemmän ympäri Suomea. Kirjassa on myös enemmän hyödynnetty lähdemateriaalia, arkistoja ja haastateltavia. Olen panostanut kirjasarjan perinteitä silmällä pitäen myös monipuolisuuteen. Koska tänä vuonna tulee kuluneeksi Suomen sisällissodasta 100 vuotta olen tutkinut ja kirjoittanut aiheesta kohteiden ympärillä. Muutenkin nostin enemmän esille myös sotahistoriaa enemmän verrattuna ekaan osaan. 

12) Missä ihmiset voivat seurata työtäsi ja ostaa kirjojasi?

Parhaiten työtäni voi seurata kirjasarjani facebook-sivuila: http://www.facebook.com/ aavetalojajaihmiskohtaloita  Joten käykäähän kurkkaamassa ja tykkäämässä sivusta. Kirjojani voi ostaa kirjakaupoista, verkkokaupoista ja jos vaikka omistuskirjoituksen haluaa niin suoraan minulta sivujen kautta. Työtäni voi myös seurata mediassa ja luennoilla. Ps. Minut saa myös tilata luentokeikalla minne vain.;)

13) Unohdinko kysyä jotakin oleellista? Kerro siitä tässä!

Kaikki hyvin.:)

Ja loppuun vakiokysymykset, jotka esitän kaikille haastateltaville:

14) Top 3 elokuvasi?

Perikato
Braveheart
Käsky

15) Top 3 kirjasi?

Suomen kartanoita-Dahl Kaj/Gardberg C.J
Ammattina vankikarkuri-Jalutsi Jan
Hävittäkää Helsinki!-Raevuori Antero

16) Minkä mallin puhelinta käytät? (Olen puhelimia keräilevä tekniikkanörtti :))

Joku erittäin vanha Huawein romu.