Previously: The Creature In Your Mind.
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My understanding of the Finnish ritual known as Taikatalvi is very, very imperfect. I first stumbled upon it via an old /x/ paranormal thread about ritual games several years ago, but I’ve had a hell of a time verifying most of its details. I’ve found a few bits and pieces of folklore and mythology that seem to echo what’s in the /x/ post; however, if you search for “Taikatalvi” on the English language internet, most of what you’ll find is either about the Nightwish song or the Moomins book that share that same title. Not quite what I was hoping to find!
Here’s what I do know: The word “taikatalvi” translates to “winter magic” in English — and, accordingly, what the ritual seems to accomplish is calling upon the “spirit of winter” for a blessing. The 4chan user who posted the rules in /x/ referred to this spirit as Talvinoita; however, I’ve also seen references to a goddess of winter called Talvikki or Talvetar in other sources about Finnish mythology. I’m not totally clear on whether these names all refer to the same deity or spirit, but it’s certainly possible that they do.
Of course, the game could also have been an invention of that /x/ user. It might not be… but it’s possible.
Unlike many of the games we’ve covered here at TGIMM, this one is actually quite benign. Still, though — it’s always good to exercise caution, no matter how “nice” a game or ritual might seem.
As always, play at your own risk.
- Six participants.
- A fresh pine branch.
- A fresh, whole fish. Herring is recommended. The fish should not be alive.
- A piece of linen large enough to wrap the fish in.
- A length of white thread.
- Warm clothing.
- A snowy night.
- An outdoor location, ideally in or near a forest.
- Make as many preliminary preparations as possible: Choose your participants and secure their promise to come when called; gather the piece of linen and then length of white thread; select an outdoor location suitable to serve as a playing field; and make sure you have all the warm clothing you will need to survive a night outside in the snow.
- Then, wait. Wait until winter. Wait until there is fresh snowfall. Wait, ideally, until the night of a full moon. Wait until dark.
- When all of these conditions are met, gather the fish and the pine branch. Retrieve the linen and the white thread. Dress in your warm clothing. Summon your fellow participants and instruct them to go to your chosen location. Meet them there. Bring your fish, your pine branch, your linen, and your thread.
- Now you may begin.
- Remove a spray of pine needles from branch. Wrap the length of white thread around the needles and tie off the end.
- Open the fish’s mouth and gently place the thread-wrapped pine needles inside. Then wrap the piece of linen around the fish, leaving the head and tail exposed.
- Using the pine branch, draw a small circle in the snow. Place the linen-wrapped fish in the center of the circle.
- Position three participants around the outside edge of the circle, standing, facing inward, and holding hands. They should form a triangle around the circle.
- Position the remaining three participants at the sides of that triangle, standing and facing outward. They should not hold hands. Together, the six participants should form a six-pointed star, with the circle and fish at the middle.
- One at a time, moving counterclockwise around the group, have each participant speak the following phrase aloud: “Taikatalvi viimeinen erämaan.”
- After the sixth participant has spoken the phrase, all participants must then close their eyes. Together, repeat the phrase one more time, in unison.
- Remain still.
- Do not open your eyes.
- After approximately one minute — you will know when the time is right — have each participant again speak aloud the phrase, “Taikatalvi viimeinen erämaan.” As before, speak one at a time; this time, however, move clockwise around the group instead of counterclockwise. Do not open your eyes as you do so; keep them tightly shut.
- After the sixth participant has spoken the phrase, repeat it once more, together, in unison.
- Now open your eyes.
- Look to the center of the circle.
- If the fish is still present: The ritual has failed; the Spirit of Winter has rejected your offering. Try again another time. For you, the game ends here.
- If the fish has been replaced by six silver coins: The ritual was successful; the Spirit of Winter has accepted your offering. Divide the coins evenly between the participants, and keep hold them always. For you, the game ends here.
- If the fish has vanished and the circle is empty: The ritual was extremely successful; the Spirit of Winter has not only accepted your offering, but also summoned you to her. For you, the game does NOT end here; proceed to the next step.
- Look carefully at the ground around each participant. One participant should see a set of footprints or animal track leading away from them in the snow. These tracks must be followed — but you must now make a choice as a group: Will all six participants follow the tracks? Or will only the participant away from whom the tracks lead follow?
- If all six participants follow the tracks: Proceed together, calmly and quietly. When you reach the end of the trail, the Spirit of Winter will greet you, and you will be blessed.
- If only one participant follows the tracks: Proceed alone, but do not fear where the tracks lead. You alone will meet the Spirit of Winter, who will do one of three things: She will tell you a secret, she will give you a gift, or she will spirit you away.
- If she tells you a secret: Keep it. You may never reveal it, although you may find it useful when making future decisions.
- If she gives you a gift: Share it. When you return to your friends, divide it evenly amongst all who played.
- If she spirits you away: You will find yourself returned to your home within three days, although you may not know how you got there, and you may not have any memory of what happened to you during your time away. You will, however, know… something. Something no human was ever meant to know. And yet, now you know it.
- Here — finally — we reach the end. Return home. But carry what you have experienced with you always.
This ritual must be performed during the winter, and only when there is fresh snow on the ground. A full moon is not required; however, it is highly recommended. You are also much more likely to experience success if your playing space is located either in or near a forest or wooded area.
The fish, pine branch, linen, and thread all have specific meanings. The fish represents that which is caught. The branch represents that which is given. The linen and thread represent that which is made.
Do NOT forget these meanings.
You may find it useful to designate one participant as First Principal. The First Principal may take the lead on preparing the fish, beginning the recitation sections, etc.
If group chooses for only one participant to follow the tracks, this participant MUST be the one from whom the tracks lead. Do NOT allow ANY OTHER PARTICIPANT to follow the tracks UNLESS the group has chosen for all six participants to follow.
Concerning The Spirit’s Gifts:
The silver coins will bring you good luck when you need it most — but do not ever spend, sell, or discard them. If you do, your good luck will quickly turn to bad — and bad luck is much more difficult to get rid of than a coin.
The blessing is just that: A blessing. Carry it with you into the world, and know that you are protected.
The secret may be anything from a glimpse at your future to a deep truth about yourself. You may act upon it if you wish.
The gift may be either tangible or intangible. It may be an object; it may be wealth; it may be information; or it may be something else entirely. Whatever it is, however, it must be shared evenly amongst all participants. The only exception to this rule is if the Spirit bestows an additional gift upon the participant who followed the tracks meant solely for them — a sort of finder’s fee, if you will.
The knowledge must be kept to yourself. It is only for you.
Do not squander any of these gifts. The Spirit does not bestow them upon just anybody. Treat them with the respect they command — and always, always remember who gave them to you in the first place.
She can always take them back if she feels her gifts are not valued.
Please don’t plagiarize this post. Linking to it or sharing the URL only is fine (and encouraged!), as is writing your own unique version of the game with sources cited and linked to, but copying/pasting, republishing, or otherwise reproducing the text of this piece in its entirety or near-entirety on other websites without permission isn’t.
[Photo via doozydoom/Pixabay]