A United World for Kekri
Kekri is an ancient Finnish harvest festival celebrated in the fall. This year it took place during the Norse pagan celebrations of Samhain, Winternights and Álfblót. Much like these celebrations, Kekri is a time to honor the dead; and like Winternights it does not have a precise date. Each village celebrates Kekri around this time when it feels proper.
In a world where differences seem to tear us apart, I was happy to come across a Facebook post that shows people can come together regardless of the differences they have. Deciding to share the hope it inspires, I reached out to Ranja Koverola who agreed to let me share her story:
Following her Facebook post, I interviewed Ranja to learn what path led her to where she is now. Below is the story I composed to share some information behind the wonderful Heathen woman and her supportive family.
Growing Up Ranja
Ranja Koverola comes from a family where Greek Orthodox Christianity intermingles with the old Karelian traditions and anthroposophy.
The history of her Finnish pagan beliefs follows a similar story of Norse pagan beliefs. Paganism was mostly wiped out by Christianity in the Medieval Age, but most of the Old Finnish pagan traditions still lingered or hid inside seemingly Christian practices. Many of the (nearly forgotten) customs were later recorded by national romantics of the late 19th and early 20th century.
"My family sees the old traditions as important and valid, but somewhat distant," says Ranja, "They would not practice the traditions themselves, but they are mostly proud that I help to keep them alive."
Some of Ranja's firmly held beliefs and stories date back to the pagan culture within the 18th century.
"I was always taught that I am a direct descendant of Vihta-Paavo, a poem singer from the 18th century. The old spell poems is how most magic in Finland was used, and I sing many of my own for special occasions today," says Ranja.
Growing up in the predominantly Protestant country of Finland where her classmates received Christian studies as part of the school curriculum, Ranja was given a well rounded spiritual education by a Greek Orthodox tutor at home using her family's extensive spiritual library.
Outside of her curriculum she gained knowledge from her family's diverse social group. She took lessons from healers, clairvoyants, shamans, and wise men and women.
The lessons she collected are vast. She learned how to visualize and channel energy, how to heal, tell fortunes, read auras and read runes.
When asked how to approach the conversation of sharing pagan customs in a Christian family setting, Ranja suggested talking more openly with our families and asking questions to help each other better understand what makes these special times important to us, what to expect, and what we are most excited to share with them.
"These kinds of questions should be discussed more, especially with kids. It is important to learn how to share what is important and sacred to us no matter how old we are."
Nowadays Ranja is co-owner of a shop in Finland where she uses her learned knowledge and talents to design rituals for people of different spiritual backgrounds; whether it is for marriage, child-naming ceremonies, or other celebratory practices customized to each individual.
Akanvakka (A Crone's Basket) offers pagan jewellery and crafts inspired by sagas and myths, pagan traditions and the Nordic nature.
Follow the links below to further connect with Ranja and her shop:
I hope you enjoyed my first feature story. Do you have any pagan celebrations or traditions you wish to share? Comment below. I would love to hear about it. Thanks for reading,
Jennifer Hartman Pagan Kids pagankids.org
To read more on Kekri, please visit Taivannaula.org (on the Chrome Internet browser for its Finnish to English translation feature): https://www.taivaannaula.org/perinne/kansanperinteen-pyhat/kekri/
Taivaannaula is a Finnish organization dedicated to preserving and fostering the native Finnish religion and culture.