Book Reviews Perceptions Magazine, July 2022
Lightbringers of the North:
Secrets of the Occult Tradition of Finland
By Perttu Hakkinen and Vesa Iitti
Bear & Company
One Park Street Rochester, Vermont 05767
June 2022, 448 pages, 6 x 9, U.S. $29.99
48 b&w illustrations
Also available as an ebook
Imprint: Inner Traditions
Review by Brent Raynes
Perttu Hakkinen (1979-2018) held a master’s degree in philosophy, and was a journalist and musician from Helsinki, Finland, who founded the band Imatra Voima. Vesa Iitti, who holds a master’s in comparative religion from Finland’s University of Turku, is an author and a translator. These two authors have explored the rich history of Finnish occultism, to be found in abundance in a country long seen as the land of sorcerers, shamans, and identified with the mystical northern land known as Ultima Thule. They delve into a wide range of personalities, movements, and groups associated with Finland’s esotericism.
Being heavily into UFO personalities, stories, and groups for well over half a century now, I was especially interested in reading about Finnish Ufology. In Chapter 9, “We Come from Everywhere,” there is even a tale from 1728 where a man, regarded locally as a healer, felt called to venture out into the woods. A few hours after he had done so, we read how a giant flying disk appeared over the village of Sahalhti. Frightened the villagers locked themselves in their homes for three days, fearing it was the end of the world. By the third day, the healer’s son emerged from his home and decided to go into the forest in search of his father, who didn’t show up on the first day. On the way he met what he described as a bear that spoke to him in human words saying, “Don’t be afraid. I just want to tell you that there is no point in searching for your father. You, too, saw that ship in the sky that shown like a rainbow. It took your father to the heavens, to another better world, inhabited by a race higher than man. Your father is doing well there and he does not miss it back here.”
Chapter 8 tells us about a political science student in the 1960s named Jorma Elovaara who soon became a prominent figure in the public eye with his writings and radio programming on UFOs, Theosophy, astrology, occultism, drugs, and conspiracies. He wrote two books, The Age of Aquarius (1971) and Child of Inner Space (1973) that the authors described as “an occult smorgasbord of classic themes, covering topics such as the hollow Earth theory, cosmic etheric ships, ritual magic, and Hyperborean mythology.” Elovaara’s influence was obvious. Tahti (Star), an underground magazine for his group Mysteeni, inspired others to publish occult magazines and to form their own groups.
The authors of Lightbringers cover a tremendous amount of occult Finnish history. They even delve into the background of Freemasony there, back when Finland was still part of Russia and the Masonic order was banned, causing adherents to create a number of secret societies like the Carpenter’s Order, the Hypotenuse Order, and the Brotherhood of February 17, including how following Finland’s independence from Russia in 1917, lodges began to reappear once again.
Then too you’ll read of Pekka Ervast, a major figure in Theosophy, who later formed a Rosicrucian group known as Ruusu-Risti. Ervast was nicknamed the Rudolf Steiner of the North. Then too there were Finnish disciples of G.I. Gurdjieff and how Gurdjieff, at the group’s leader’s request, fathered a son with that leader. The authors also cite the cult of Tattarisuo, an extreme group who used body parts and the Sixth and the Seventh Book of Moses in nightly rituals.