Sara Bonadea George

Sara Bonadea George

Lecture & Workshop Host

LECTURE: Fröjas apples: Spirits in Swedish Plant Folklore

In the Swedish peasant society of the 1800´s, plants were considered to be vessels of great power and they were associated with spirits. This lecture examines how nature spirits and other supernatural entities have been linked to herbs and trees in pre-industrial folk tradition. The guardian of the forest, the elder tree mother, the underworld dwellers, trolls, the goddess Fröja, the thorn man and the devil are some of the beings we will meet in the world of enchantment that is the Swedish flora. There will also be a reflection upon which plants were prominent in the folklore of Sweden. Sara´s presentation is mainly based upon her research in the folklore archives in Uppsala and Stockholm, as well as in old local history books. Through the plant lore, we encounter a mystical world where the flora is not considered to be a mere “carrier of light”. Rather, the plant world is a realm where the dark shadows dwell, although there are also benevolent powers in the Scandinavian landscape.

WORKSHOP: Trollpåsar (troll bags): Rustic Swedish Plant Magic
1.5 HOUR INTENSIVE– space is limited to 20 participants

In this workshop we will create trollpåsar, “troll bags”, that belong to the rustic folk tradition of pre-industrial Sweden. They were part of the medicinal and magical arsenal of the cunning folk, the specialists in folk magic, as well as of the common folk. The most prevalent uses of the troll bags were for protection and for transference magic. They were at times also used for cursing. Old folklore records for instance tell how the wise ones hung troll bags in the barns or threw them into graves. There was often plant matter in the bags. At the workshop we will talk about herbs and trees that have been used for folk magic in Sweden. We will also learn some history of the troll bags. Prominent plants from the Swedish magical tradition, such as juniper and flygrönn, will be available at the workshop for the participants to use.

$35 workshop add on fee
$5 materials fee

BIO: Sara Bonadea George is a plant folklorist and plant lore teacher living in Uppsala, Sweden. She is the author of the book `Blodets blomma: Växter i svensk folktro´ (`Flower of the Blood: Plants in Swedish Folk Belief´) due to be published by Gidlunds förlag in the spring 2023. The book focuses on how plants have been associated with supernatural spirits. Her work is mostly based upon her research in folklore archives where the material mainly reflects the peasant society of the 1800´s. Sara has an MA degree in European Ethnology with Folkloristics from the Uppsala University and has studied herbalism at Biskops-Arnö. Now she teaches at herbalist schools, lectures in libraries and gives garden walks.

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