History Hans Högman
Copyright © Hans Högman 2016-12-24

The Torsåker Witch Trial of 1675 and

the Clergyman Hornaues - Sweden

In 1675 a horrible witch trial took place in Torsåker, province of Ångermanland, Sweden with the assistant parish minister Laurentius Hornaeus of Ytterlännäs parish at the center of it all. It began with Hornaeus receiving an assignment from the parish minister (reverend) in Torsåker, Johannes Wattrangius, to track down all the witches in the “pastorat” (grand parish) of Torsåker. Laurentius Hornaeus was very determined and zealous to succeed with his assignment. As a result, one fifth of all the women in the parish were burned at the stake in 1675. This was the largest number of women to be sentenced and executed for witchcraft at one time in Sweden. Laurentius Christophri Hornaeus was born in the city of Härnösand in 1645. His name was then Lars Christoffersson.   Before the 17th century, it was common practice for a clergyman to use only his given name preceded by Herr (Sir), like Herr Lars, Herr Olof, Herr Hans etc. In order to differentiate clerics with the same first name, they later began to use Latinized versions of their patronymic names. During the 17th century, adding a Latinized form of their birthplace became a common naming practice. A theology student did not adopt his “clerical name” until he was ordained. This means that he normally had a patronymic name before his ordination.  As a clergyman, Lars Christoffersson adopted the name Laurentius (Lars) Christophri (Christoffersson) Hornaeus. Hornaeus can probably be derived from a place called Hörnö in Härnösand, where he was born. Lars started his theological studies in the 1660's and in 1667 he and his brother Petrus were studying together at the University of Uppsala, Sweden. He was ordained in 1672 and was employed as an assistant (curate) to the assistant parish minister Olaus Erici Rufinius in Ytterlännäs, Torsåker’s “pastorat”. He was then responsible for the annex parish of Dal. When Olaus Rufinius died in 1672/73, Laurentius was appointed as the new assistant parish minister of Ytterlännäs. At the time it was very common that when a minister died, the new clergyman would marry either his widow or his daughter. This was called to "preserve the minister’s widow" (konservera prästänkan).  Olaus Rufinius was a widower when he passed away, but he did have an unmarried daughter named Brita Olofsdotter Rufinia who was born in 1651. In this case Laurentius married the daughter, Brita. The wedding took place at the minister's house (personage - vicarage) in Sunnanåker, Ytterlännäs parish. Laurentius died 17 May 1719 in Nordanåker, Ytterlännäs parish (Ångermanland). He is buried under the old church in Ytterlännäs where a hatch in the floor between the altar and the door to the sacristy leads to the grave. 

The Witch Trials in Western Europe

The western European witch trials occurred between the years 1450 and 1700 but occurred with more frequency in the 17th century.  The inquisitors Henricus Institoris and Jakob Sprenger wrote Malleus maleficarum, also called “Häxhammaren” or The Witch Hammer, in 1487. This was a guidebook on how to disclose, convict and condemn witches. The “Häxhammaren” made women a prime target for the witch hunters by focusing on their tendency for witchcraft and devil-worship. The witch-hunts started in the southern Alp regions of Europe and spread throughout the continent. Germany (or more correctly, the Holy Roman Empire) was probably the most active in its pursuit and execution of witches. The accused were sentenced to death for witchcraft and burned at the stake. There are no definitive figures on how many were executed for witchcraft. There are some fantasy figures of 1,000,000 persons. However, a more realistic figure would be just under 100,000.

The Witch Trials in Sweden

In Sweden, a series of witch trials and executions began in 1668 and lasted 8 years, ending in 1676. They were very intensive in a zone stretching from the province of Bohuslän on the west cost, over the provinces of Värmland and Dalarna to Hälsingland and Ångermanland on the east coast. See a  Map of Sweden.  Torsåker probably suffered the most. The witch trials began when 30 persons were sentenced to death for witchcraft in Lillhärdal, province of Härjedalen. All of them were accused of abducting children and taking them to Blåkulla (the place of the Devil in Nordic tales) and for having intercourse with the devil. The news of the witch trials in Lillhärdal spread like a wildfire all over Sweden. The witch-hunts were no longer a rumor; they were a fact. The witch trials in Sweden were unique because they relied on a large number of children as witnesses.   In total there were 300 persons executed for witchcraft in Sweden. Another couple of hundred were also convicted. However, they were not executed. There was a decline in the witch trails after 1676 and the last woman sentenced to death for witchcraft in Sweden was executed in 1704. The last legal witch trial was held in the province of Dalarna in 1757.  However, the punishment for witchcraft was not abolished until 1779.

The Witch Trial in Torsåker, Sweden, in 1675

The witch hunts began a few years after Laurentius Hornaeus had been appointed assistant parish minister in Ytterlännäs parish when the parish minister Johannes Wattrangius, head of the Torsåker “pastorat” assigned Hornaeus to track down the witches. The young Hornaeus started the job with a great determination to succeed. Both Wattrangius and Hornaeus saw themselves as chosen to fight the evil - the Devil. They were convinced that there was a giant struggle between the good and the evil and that the witches were the tools of the devil. To save the souls of the witches and to spare them the eternal fire of hell, it was necessary to get the witches to confess. Both men believed that torture was necessary to accomplish that goal. Witnesses were also tortured to get a "suitable" story. It was common to use children as witnesses, and they were often children of the accused women. The children were telling fantastic stories of how they had been brought to "Blåkulla" (the place of the Devil in Nordic tales, not hell, but a place where the Devil held banquets) on the witches' ride, what they had experienced there, what they had seen, who they had seen, etc. The children tried to outshine each other with their fantasy stories. The water test was one method the authorities used to determine if a woman was a witch. The accused woman was tied up and thrown into a lake, river, or some other body of water. If she sank and drowned, then she was innocent. However, if she floated on the water, she was condemned as a witch and was to be executed. The women were beheaded first, and their bodies were then burned on a bonfire. There is only one registered case in Sweden where the witch was burned alive. Malin Matsdotter or "Rumpare-Malin", as she was called, was sentenced to death by burning on a bonfire. The sentence was carried out on 5 August 1676, in Stockholm. On that same day and at the same place another woman was executed for witchcraft with Malin. She was Anna Simonsdotter Hack or "Tysk-Annika". However, she was beheaded before she was placed on the bonfire. Those two women were the last ones to be executed for witchcraft in Stockholm. The church was responsible for conducting the witch-hunt and for converting them back to Christianity: The worldly authorities were responsible for delivering a conviction in a court of law. A special Witchcraft Commission was established for this purpose. It was the responsibility of the Commission to see to that the witches and ogresses were caught and sentence to death. The sentences in Torsåker, Ångermanland were given at the district court in Hammar, Torsåker. The Royal Norrland Witchcraft Commission, consisting of 18 learned men and 6 farmers, confirmed the sentence. Chairman of the Commission was the County Governor of Västernorrland, Carl Sparre, who had been appointed to this position in the spring of 1674. After his appointment, he sent letters to every minister and ordered them to start investigations and to interrogate the members of their parish congregations. Everyone suspected of witchcraft was to be reported.

The Witch Trial in Torsåker

The district court in Torsåker began the trial on 15 October 1674. The chief judge was Johan Andersson Hambreus and the assessor was parish minister Wattrangius. The accusation was practice of witchcraft and the abduction of children to "Blåkulla". The witch-hunting in Torsåker reached it's climax in 1674 – 1675 when a very large number of women in Ytterlännes were sentenced to “Yxa och bål” (axe and be burnt) or in plain English “to be beheaded and be burned at the stake” for witchcraft. A total of 71 persons; consisting of 65 women, 2 men and 4 boys were beheaded and burned at the stake on 1 June 1675. The executions took place on a mountain located where the border lines between the three parishes Torsåker, Dal and Ytterlännäs met. Some sources say that 9 of the accused were executed on 28 March and the rest of them on 1 June. Parish minister Wattrangius conducted a service for the accused at the church in Torsåker on the morning of June 1st and those sentenced to death received their last Holy Communion (nattvard). Only then did the commended realize that they were going to be executed. After the Holy Communion, they started the hard march to the mountain where the scaffolds were waiting. The mountain where the executions took place is still today called Häxberget or Bålberget (the “Witch Mountain” or the “Bon Fire Mountain”). Mayor Erik Lund, from the city of Härnösand, was in charge of the executions and there were two executioners waiting at the mountain. The condemned witches were beheaded on the downside of the bon fire so that the blood wouldn’t stop the fire. Imagine all the death agony, the screaming, the acrid odor of blood, urine and excrements, the amount of blood on the ground from 71 persons and the offensive smell of burnt flesh. This was of course a catastrophe for every one involved and a great tragedy for the area. Many homes were left without a wife, mother or daughter. This was the largest number of persons to be sentenced and executed for witchcraft at one time in Sweden. The number of persons executed in the three parishes, Torsåker, Ytterlännäs, and Dal were distributed in the following way: If half of the inhabitants in the three parishes were women, there would have been 336 women in the “pastorat”. Of these, 65 women were executed, or 19% (every 5th woman). The youngest woman executed was 18 years of age and the oldest 70.

"Visgossar" (Sage Boys)

Visgossar” (sage boys or wise boys) were young boys with the power to spot the mark of the Devil, the Stigma Diaboli, in the forehead of persons allied with the Devil – the witches. These boys were often orphans wandering around in the province looking for a job or something to eat, etc and here they saw the possibility to earn easy money. Assistant minister Hornaeus and minister Wattrangius useed these so called “visgossar”  in the witch-hunts. This was a common practice in those days. At the end of the Sunday mass they would stand outside the church. When the people were leaving the church, the boys would point at a few women and state that they saw the devil's mark on their foreheads. Every time the boys did this, they were paid. In the Ytterlännäs’s church accounts for 1675 there is a note of the following expense: To: the Nordingrå boys – 20 öre”. The ”Visgossar” from Nordingrå had been engaged by assistant parish minister Hornaeus to point out the members of the congregation that were witches. He paid them 20 öre. A few days after the witch trials the Nordingrå “visgossar” was found beaten to death. After the witch-hunts and the trails both assistant minister Hornaeus and minister Wattrangius (who actually was to become one of  Hornaeus’s son's father-in-law) were broken men. They took the events very hard and had a heavy burden to carry for many years.

Hornaeus’s Mother Charged With Witchcraft

Even assistant minister Hornaeus’s mother, Elisabeth "Målares" and his aunt (maternal aunt) Moses Brita were charged with witchcraft and executed . This took place in the city of Härnösand (about 50 km (30 miles) south of Ytterlännas) in 1675. Elisabeth was a widow when she was executed. Moses Brita was more then 70 years old at the time. Charged With Witchcraft: Elisabeth was accused of using a so-called “bjära”. A “bjära” was a kind of ball that the witches sent out to milk the farmer's cows, steal cream, cheese etc. When the mission was accomplished the “bjära” returned back to the witch and puked up the milk for the witch, like a pellet. The “bjära” was a woolly ball of 9 different colors that the witch made herself. It was important that the wool was twinned during three consecutive Thursdays. The top layer of the ball was always grey. In the middle of the ball there was a hole where she put a sacramental wafer or some other magic object together with three drops of blood from her left little finger (pinkie). The ball was then initiated with a string of words: "Jag har gett dig blod, fan skall ge dig mod, du skall för mig på jorden springa och jag skall för dig i helvetet brinna." Or in English: ”I have given you blood, the Devil will give you courage, you shall run the earth for me and I will burn in hell for you ”. When this was done the ball was thrown over her left shoulder. Now the ball came to life and a became willing “bjära” for its owner. The “bjära” could break in through the smallest opening and was impossible shut out. It was difficult to protect oneself against it. In southern Sweden, a “mjölkhare” (a milk rabbit) was the same thing as a “bjära”. It was common in those days that you suspected your neighbors of witchcraft if something went wrong at your own farm. For example, if your cows were not milking well, you might suspect your neighbor of witchcraft. Often it was someone you had a grudge against who was accused of witchcraft.

My ancestors

Both assistant minister Hornaeus and minister Wattrangius are my ancestors on my father’s mother's side. Author Olof Fahlén has published two historic novels about the witch-hunt in Torsåker  titled "Dömd till yxa och bål" (1985) and "Eldens återsken" (1986).

Dictionary

Blåkulla: The place of the Devil in Nordic tales. This was not hell, but a place where the devil held banquet. Hell could be seen below through a hole in the floor. Häxa:   Witch Häxprocesser: Witch trials Kaplan/ Komminister: Assistant Parish Minister (Assistant Vicar - UK) Kyrkoherde: Parish Minister (Vicar - UK) Socken: Parish Trolldom: Witchcraft Church of Sweden: Church of Sweden is a Lutheran Church. The History and Organization of the Church of Sweden

Source References

Olof Fahlén's novels "Dömd till yxa och bål" (Sentenced to Axe and be Burnt) (1985) and "Eldens återsken" (The Reflection of the Fire) (1986). The books are about the clergy family Hornaeus and the witch trial in Torsåker 1675. They are novels, however based on historic material. The books are very interesting, especially for me since my ancestors are involved.   If you are interested in the witch trials in Torsåker 1675, there is a work by Laurentius Hornaeus’s grandson Jöns Hornaeus. He was the third generation of ministers in the Hornaeus family. In 1735,  60 years after the witch trials, he researched these horrible events in Torsåker. He wanted to find out what really happened. His work was called "Sannfärdig berättelse" (A Truthful Story). The source of information he used was the documents from the court proceedings and contemporary tales. More to read: "Det gamla Ytterlännäs" (The Old Ytterlännäs) published by the Ytterlännäs hembygdsförening (The Ytterlännas Folklore Society) 1974.  (2) "Historien om Sverige - Storhet och fall" (The History of Sweden - Greatness and Downfall) by Herman Lindkvist, Norstedts 1995 (page 101 - 102)  "Trolldomsprocesserna i Sverige" (The Witchcraft trials in Sweden) by Bengt Ankarloo, 1996.  Nationalencyklopedin 2000 (The National Encyclopaedia 2000)  "Att dömas till döden" (To be Sentenced to Death) by Jonny Ambrius, 1996 Top of page
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Släktforskning Hans Högman
Copyright © Hans Högman 2016-12-24

The Torsåker Witch Trial

of 1675 and

the Clergyman Hornaues

- Sweden

In 1675 a horrible witch trial took place in Torsåker, province of Ångermanland, Sweden with the assistant parish minister Laurentius Hornaeus of Ytterlännäs parish at the center of it all. It began with Hornaeus receiving an assignment from the parish minister (reverend) in Torsåker, Johannes Wattrangius, to track down all the witches in the pastorat” (grand parish) of Torsåker. Laurentius Hornaeus was very determined and zealous to succeed with his assignment. As a result, one fifth of all the women in the parish were burned at the stake in 1675. This was the largest number of women to be sentenced and executed for witchcraft at one time in Sweden. Laurentius Christophri Hornaeus was born in the city of Härnösand in 1645. His name was then Lars Christoffersson.   Before the 17th century, it was common practice for a clergyman to use only his given name preceded by Herr (Sir), like Herr Lars, Herr Olof, Herr Hans etc. In order to differentiate clerics with the same first name, they later began to use Latinized versions of their patronymic names. During the 17th century, adding a Latinized form of their birthplace became a common naming practice. A theology student did not adopt his clerical name” until he was ordained. This means that he normally had a patronymic name before his ordination.  As a clergyman, Lars Christoffersson adopted the name Laurentius (Lars) Christophri (Christoffersson) Hornaeus. Hornaeus can probably be derived from a place called Hörnö in Härnösand, where he was born. Lars started his theological studies in the 1660's and in 1667 he and his brother Petrus were studying together at the University of Uppsala, Sweden. He was ordained in 1672 and was employed as an assistant (curate) to the assistant parish minister Olaus Erici Rufinius in Ytterlännäs, Torsåker’s “pastorat”. He was then responsible for the annex parish of Dal. When Olaus Rufinius died in 1672/73, Laurentius was appointed as the new assistant parish minister of Ytterlännäs. At the time it was very common that when a minister died, the new clergyman would marry either his widow or his daughter. This was called to "preserve the minister’s widow" (konservera prästänkan).  Olaus Rufinius was a widower when he passed away, but he did have an unmarried daughter named Brita Olofsdotter Rufinia who was born in 1651. In this case Laurentius married the daughter, Brita. The wedding took place at the minister's house (personage - vicarage) in Sunnanåker, Ytterlännäs parish. Laurentius died 17 May 1719 in Nordanåker, Ytterlännäs parish (Ångermanland). He is buried under the old church in Ytterlännäs where a hatch in the floor between the altar and the door to the sacristy leads to the grave. 

The Witch Trials in Western

Europe

The western European witch trials occurred between the years 1450 and 1700 but occurred with more frequency in the 17th century.  The inquisitors Henricus Institoris and Jakob Sprenger wrote Malleus maleficarum, also called Häxhammaren” or The Witch Hammer, in 1487. This was a guidebook on how to disclose, convict and condemn witches. The “Häxhammaren” made women a prime target for the witch hunters by focusing on their tendency for witchcraft and devil-worship. The witch-hunts started in the southern Alp regions of Europe and spread throughout the continent. Germany (or more correctly, the Holy Roman Empire) was probably the most active in its pursuit and execution of witches. The accused were sentenced to death for witchcraft and burned at the stake. There are no definitive figures on how many were executed for witchcraft. There are some fantasy figures of 1,000,000 persons. However, a more realistic figure would be just under 100,000.

The Witch Trials in Sweden

In Sweden, a series of witch trials and executions began in 1668 and lasted 8 years, ending in 1676. They were very intensive in a zone stretching from the province of Bohuslän on the west cost, over the provinces of Värmland and Dalarna to Hälsingland and Ångermanland on the east coast. See a  Map of Sweden.  Torsåker probably suffered the most. The witch trials began when 30 persons were sentenced to death for witchcraft in Lillhärdal, province of Härjedalen. All of them were accused of abducting children and taking them to Blåkulla (the place of the Devil in Nordic tales) and for having intercourse with the devil. The news of the witch trials in Lillhärdal spread like a wildfire all over Sweden. The witch-hunts were no longer a rumor; they were a fact. The witch trials in Sweden were unique because they relied on a large number of children as witnesses.   In total there were 300 persons executed for witchcraft in Sweden. Another couple of hundred were also convicted. However, they were not executed. There was a decline in the witch trails after 1676 and the last woman sentenced to death for witchcraft in Sweden was executed in 1704. The last legal witch trial was held in the province of Dalarna in 1757.  However, the punishment for witchcraft was not abolished until 1779.

The Witch Trial in Torsåker,

Sweden, in 1675

The witch hunts began a few years after Laurentius Hornaeus had been appointed assistant parish minister in Ytterlännäs parish when the parish minister Johannes Wattrangius, head of the Torsåker “pastorat” assigned Hornaeus to track down the witches. The young Hornaeus started the job with a great determination to succeed. Both Wattrangius and Hornaeus saw themselves as chosen to fight the evil - the Devil. They were convinced that there was a giant struggle between the good and the evil and that the witches were the tools of the devil. To save the souls of the witches and to spare them the eternal fire of hell, it was necessary to get the witches to confess. Both men believed that torture was necessary to accomplish that goal. Witnesses were also tortured to get a "suitable" story. It was common to use children as witnesses, and they were often children of the accused women. The children were telling fantastic stories of how they had been brought to "Blåkulla" (the place of the Devil in Nordic tales, not hell, but a place where the Devil held banquets) on the witches' ride, what they had experienced there, what they had seen, who they had seen, etc. The children tried to outshine each other with their fantasy stories. The water test was one method the authorities used to determine if a woman was a witch. The accused woman was tied up and thrown into a lake, river, or some other body of water. If she sank and drowned, then she was innocent. However, if she floated on the water, she was condemned as a witch and was to be executed. The women were beheaded first, and their bodies were then burned on a bonfire. There is only one registered case in Sweden where the witch was burned alive. Malin Matsdotter or "Rumpare-Malin", as she was called, was sentenced to death by burning on a bonfire. The sentence was carried out on 5 August 1676, in Stockholm. On that same day and at the same place another woman was executed for witchcraft with Malin. She was Anna Simonsdotter Hack or "Tysk- Annika". However, she was beheaded before she was placed on the bonfire. Those two women were the last ones to be executed for witchcraft in Stockholm. The church was responsible for conducting the witch-hunt and for converting them back to Christianity: The worldly authorities were responsible for delivering a conviction in a court of law. A special Witchcraft Commission was established for this purpose. It was the responsibility of the Commission to see to that the witches and ogresses were caught and sentence to death. The sentences in Torsåker, Ångermanland were given at the district court in Hammar, Torsåker. The Royal Norrland Witchcraft Commission, consisting of 18 learned men and 6 farmers, confirmed the sentence. Chairman of the Commission was the County Governor of Västernorrland, Carl Sparre, who had been appointed to this position in the spring of 1674. After his appointment, he sent letters to every minister and ordered them to start investigations and to interrogate the members of their parish congregations. Everyone suspected of witchcraft was to be reported.

The Witch Trial in Torsåker

The district court in Torsåker began the trial on 15 October 1674. The chief judge was Johan Andersson Hambreus and the assessor was parish minister Wattrangius. The accusation was practice of witchcraft and the abduction of children to "Blåkulla". The witch-hunting in Torsåker reached it's climax in 1674 – 1675  when a very large number of women in Ytterlännes were sentenced to “Yxa och bål” (axe and be burnt) or in plain English “to be beheaded and be burned at the stake” for witchcraft. A total of 71 persons; consisting of 65 women, 2 men and 4 boys were beheaded and burned at the stake on 1 June 1675. The executions took place on a mountain located where the border lines between the three parishes Torsåker, Dal and Ytterlännäs met. Some sources say that 9 of the accused were executed on 28 March and the rest of them on 1 June. Parish minister Wattrangius conducted a service for the accused at the church in Torsåker on the morning of June 1st and those sentenced to death received their last Holy Communion (nattvard). Only then did the commended realize that they were going to be executed. After the Holy Communion, they started the hard march to the mountain where the scaffolds were waiting. The mountain where the executions took place is still today called Häxberget or Bålberget (the Witch Mountain” or the “Bon Fire Mountain”). Mayor Erik Lund, from the city of Härnösand, was in charge of the executions and there were two executioners waiting at the mountain. The condemned witches were beheaded on the downside of the bon fire so that the blood wouldn’t stop the fire. Imagine all the death agony, the screaming, the acrid odor of blood, urine and excrements, the amount of blood on the ground from 71 persons and the offensive smell of burnt flesh. This was of course a catastrophe for every one involved and a great tragedy for the area. Many homes were left without a wife, mother or daughter. This was the largest number of persons to be sentenced and executed for witchcraft at one time in Sweden. The number of persons executed in the three parishes, Torsåker, Ytterlännäs, and Dal were distributed in the following way: If half of the inhabitants in the three parishes were women, there would have been 336 women in the “pastorat”. Of these, 65 women were executed, or 19% (every 5th woman). The youngest woman executed was 18 years of age and the oldest 70.

"Visgossar" (Sage Boys)

Visgossar” (sage boys or wise boys) were young boys with the power to spot the mark of the Devil, the Stigma Diaboli, in the forehead of persons allied with the Devil – the witches. These boys were often orphans wandering around in the province looking for a job or something to eat, etc and here they saw the possibility to earn easy money. Assistant minister Hornaeus and minister Wattrangius useed these so called “visgossar”  in the witch-hunts. This was a common practice in those days. At the end of the Sunday mass they would stand outside the church. When the people were leaving the church, the boys would point at a few women and state that they saw the devil's mark on their foreheads. Every time the boys did this, they were paid. In the Ytterlännäs’s church accounts for 1675 there is a note of the following expense: To: the Nordingrå boys – 20 öre”. The ”Visgossar” from Nordingrå had been engaged by assistant parish minister Hornaeus to point out the members of the congregation that were witches. He paid them 20 öre. A few days after the witch trials the Nordingrå “visgossar” was found beaten to death. After the witch-hunts and the trails both assistant minister Hornaeus and minister Wattrangius (who actually was to become one of  Hornaeus’s son's father-in-law) were broken men. They took the events very hard and had a heavy burden to carry for many years.

Hornaeus’s Mother Charged With

Witchcraft

Even assistant minister Hornaeus’s mother, Elisabeth "Målares" and his aunt (maternal aunt) Moses Brita were charged with witchcraft and executed . This took place in the city of Härnösand (about 50 km (30 miles) south of Ytterlännas) in 1675. Elisabeth was a widow when she was executed. Moses Brita was more then 70 years old at the time. Charged With Witchcraft: Elisabeth was accused of using a so-called “bjära”. A “bjära” was a kind of ball that the witches sent out to milk the farmer's cows, steal cream, cheese etc. When the mission was accomplished the “bjära” returned back to the witch and puked up the milk for the witch, like a pellet. The “bjära” was a woolly ball of 9 different colors that the witch made herself. It was important that the wool was twinned during three consecutive Thursdays. The top layer of the ball was always grey. In the middle of the ball there was a hole where she put a sacramental wafer or some other magic object together with three drops of blood from her left little finger (pinkie). The ball was then initiated with a string of words: "Jag har gett dig blod, fan skall ge dig mod, du skall för mig på jorden springa och jag skall för dig i helvetet brinna." Or in English: ”I have given you blood, the Devil will give you courage, you shall run the earth for me and I will burn in hell for you ”. When this was done the ball was thrown over her left shoulder. Now the ball came to life and a became willing “bjära” for its owner. The “bjära” could break in through the smallest opening and was impossible shut out. It was difficult to protect oneself against it. In southern Sweden, a “mjölkhare” (a milk rabbit) was the same thing as a “bjära”. It was common in those days that you suspected your neighbors of witchcraft if something went wrong at your own farm. For example, if your cows were not milking well, you might suspect your neighbor of witchcraft. Often it was someone you had a grudge against who was accused of witchcraft.

My ancestors

Both assistant minister Hornaeus and minister Wattrangius are my ancestors on my father’s mother's side. Author Olof Fahlén has published two historic novels about the witch-hunt in Torsåker  titled "Dömd till yxa och bål" (1985) and "Eldens återsken" (1986).

Dictionary

Blåkulla: The place of the Devil in Nordic tales. This was not hell, but a place where the devil held banquet. Hell could be seen below through a hole in the floor. Häxa:   Witch Häxprocesser: Witch trials Kaplan/ Komminister: Assistant Parish Minister (Assistant Vicar - UK) Kyrkoherde: Parish Minister (Vicar - UK) Socken: Parish Trolldom: Witchcraft Church of Sweden: Church of Sweden is a Lutheran Church. The History and Organization of the Church of Sweden

Source References

Olof Fahlén's novels "Dömd till yxa och bål"  (Sentenced to Axe and be Burnt) (1985) and "Eldens återsken" (The Reflection of the Fire) (1986). The books are about the clergy family Hornaeus and the witch trial in Torsåker 1675. They are novels, however based on historic material. The books are very interesting, especially for me since my ancestors are involved.   If you are interested in the witch trials in Torsåker 1675, there is a work by Laurentius Hornaeus’s grandson Jöns Hornaeus. He was the third generation of ministers in the Hornaeus family. In 1735,  60 years after the witch trials, he researched these horrible events in Torsåker. He wanted to find out what really happened. His work was called "Sannfärdig berättelse" (A Truthful Story). The source of information he used was the documents from the court proceedings and contemporary tales. More to read: "Det gamla Ytterlännäs" (The Old Ytterlännäs) published by the Ytterlännäs hembygdsförening (The Ytterlännas Folklore Society) 1974.  (2) "Historien om Sverige - Storhet och fall" (The History of Sweden - Greatness and Downfall) by Herman Lindkvist, Norstedts 1995 (page 101 - 102)  "Trolldomsprocesserna i Sverige" (The Witchcraft trials in Sweden) by Bengt Ankarloo, 1996.  Nationalencyklopedin 2000 (The National Encyclopaedia 2000)  "Att dömas till döden" (To be Sentenced to Death) by Jonny Ambrius, 1996 Top of page