Enigmas of the Horizon. Liv Helene Willumsen, Alison Karasyk and Youmna Chlala in Conversation

The text ‘Enigmas of the Horizon’ is a conversation between historian Liv Helene Willumsen, curator Alison Karasyk, and artist Youmna Chlala. The text is published in Alison Karasyk and Jeppe Ugelvig (eds.), Witch Hunt: A Reader on the Nordic Witchcraft Trials (Copenhagen, 2020). The book is part of the exhibition Witch Hunt, 7 November 2020–17 January 2021, Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Copenhagen, Denmark. The conversation focuses on meeting points between history, artistic expression and museum exhibitions. It includes topics like a historian’s work with original sources, an artist’s work with memory and futurity, and a curator’s work with the museum as an ever-evolving space. The conversation took place on 13 August 2020. ( PDF )

Article on magic numbers and Orkney women

The article ‘The ninety-nine dancers of Moaness: Orkney women between the visible and invisible’ draws attention to magic numbers in folk belief, witches’ meetings, and the imagination of seventeenth-century Orkney women. Departing from a witchcraft confession 1643, wherein a striking tale about ninety-nine dancers in the landscape of Moaness in Orkney is told, a detailed analysis is carried out. The article sheds light on the mentality of ordinary Orkney women, who on the one hand struggled to maintain daily existence, on the other hand maintained beliefs in the invisible and unrealistic. ( PDF )

Witches' Gatherings in Finnmark

This essay is part of the book Demonology and Witch-Hunting in Early Modern Europe. It analyses ideas related to witches’ gatherings in the northernmost part of Europe. In the district of Finnmark, in the far north of Norway, severe witchcraft trials took place between 1600 and 1692, with distinct panics in 1620–21, 1651–52, and 1662–63. The essay deals with cultural transference of ideas. It presents the concept of witches’ meetings as expressed in the confessions of the accused during the first panic, in 1620–21. It contextualizes the concepts, drawing attention to similar ideas in other European countries and thus to the question of transference of ideas. The prominent features are dancing and drinking, joy and sisterhood, the decent behaviour of the participants, the shape-shifting, the flights, the playfulness of the Devil – and even playing board games with their demons.( PDF )

Article on Witchcraft against Royal Danish Ships in 1589 and Transfer of Ideas

Liv Helene Willumsen has published an article in International Review of Scottish Studies, 2020. The article deals with witchcraft against royal Danish ships in 1598 and transnational transfer of ideas about witchcraft from Denmark to Scotland. The outset is alleged witchcraft performed against a royal Danish fleet that was to carry Princess Anne across the North Sea to her husband, King James VI of Scotland, autumn 1589, and following trials in Copenhagen. These include court records from witchcraft trials and diplomatic correspondence between Denmark, England and Scotland. By close-readings of these texts, a multi-layered narrative emerges. The article sheds light on the routes for transmission of witchcraft ideas, as well as the contemporary context for interpreting witchcraft notions. ( PDF )

Article on Orkney and Steilneset Memorials

An article on Orkney and Steilneset Memorials to the Victims of the Witchcraft Trials has been published in New Orkney Antiquarian Journal, no. 9, 2020. This issue of the journal is related to the opening of the Orkney Witch Memorial in Kirkwall on 9 March 2019. ( PDF )

Article in Magic, Ritual and Witchcraft

Liv Helene Willumsen has together with Arne Kruse written a new article titled ‘Magic Language: The Transmission of an Idea over Geographical Distance and Linguistic Barriers’. The article deals with a fascinating transnational path regarding the transfer of ideas concerning witchcraft. Published in Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft, Volume 15, Number 1, Spring 2020, pp. 1-32. ( PDF )

Article in Folklore

Liv Helene Willumsen has recently published an article about the Sami Shaman Anders Poulsen, who was accused of witchcraft in Finnmark, Northern Norway, in 1692. The article is published in Folklore, (2020), 131:2, 135-158. ( PDF )

Honoured Guest at Inauguration Day Orkney Memorial

MP for Orkney and Shetland, Alistair Carmichael, helps unveil the memorial. Also in the picture: Prof Liv H. Willumsen.

Liv Helene Willumsen was invited as Honoured Guest at the Inauguration Day of Orkney Witch Memorial, Kirkwall, on 9 March 2019, where she gave a lecture: ‘Painful history in the public space: Steilneset Memorial, Norway’. Inauguration Day, Memorial to the victims of the witchcraft trials, Kirkwall, Orkney, 09.03.2019. Orkney Heritage Society. Web page for the event

Article on early mission in Finnmark

This article deals with Isaac Olsen, one of the earliest missionaries among the Sami people in Norway. Isaac Olsen worked as a teacher and preacher in Finnmark from 1703 until 1716. Isaac Olsen was the forerunner of missionary Thomas von Westen. ‘Isaac Olsen – The First Missionary Among the Sami People in Finnmark?’, Nordlit, no. 43, 2019. ( Link )

Performance Closing Ritual in Vardø

From left: Liv Helene Willumsen, Marianne Skjeldal and Geir Hytten

Liv Helene Willumsen was invited to Vardø by Laterna dance group, Marianne Skjeldal and Inger-Reidun Olsen, in connection with Laterna’s performance Closing Ritual in Vardø June 2019. This performance was part of the art project CoSA - Concerning the Spiritual in Art (2018-2020) - 'Steilneset'. Willumsen gave lectures during the project. Facebook, and Webpage.

Book review

In a book review of Gunvor Simonsen’s book Slave Stories, the analyses of narrative structures in court records are emphasized and evaluated. Slave Stories: Law, Representation and Gender in the Danish West Indies, Aarhus University Press, Aarhus, 2017. In Sjuttonhundratal, 2019, p. 161–163. ( PDF )

Talk at Birmingham Conference

In November 2018, I gave a talk about Steilneset Memorial in Norway at a conference arranged by National Archives and National Library, England: ‘Painful history in the public space: Steilneset Memorial, Norway’. #DCDC 2018. The conference was arranged by National Archives and National Library, England. Birmingham, 20.11.2018.

Article on an adult son's assault on parents

This article is an analysis of court records from a trial against an adult son's assault on parents in a seventeenth-century Sami community in Northern Norway. (PDF)

Article on oral transfer of ideas about witchcraft

This article examines oral transfer of ideas about witchcraft in seventeenth-century Northern Norway, using close-reading of court records as a method of analysis. (PDF)

Steilneset Memorial, Vardø, commemorating the Victims of the Finnmark Witchcraft Trials

Her Majesty Queen Sonja of Norway and historian Liv Helene Willumsen during the first officially guided tour at Steilneset Memorial
From the opening of Steilneset Memorial, Vardø, 23 June 2011. From left: Jerry Gorovoy, Louise Bourgeois' Studio, Her Majesty Queen Sonja, historian Liv Helene Willumsen, architect Peter Zumthor.

Article in Oxford Bibliographies: 'Historical Approaches to Child Witches'

Click here for PDF.

Facts about the Finnmark Witchcraft Trials

The district of Finnmark in Northern Norway experienced severe witchcraft persecution during the 17th century. For a short introduction to the Finnmark witchcraft trials, click here: (PDF).

Historiography Norway

At the Nordic History Meeting August 2011 in Tromsø, the following presentation about witchcraft historiography in Norway from 1994 to 2011 was given by me. Click here for text (PDF).

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