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2014 | 58 | 85-106

Article title

Aksi noid – noukogude aja selgeltnagija


Title variants

The Witch of Aksi – Clairvoyant of the Soviet Period

Languages of publication



This article is about the constellations in which communities accept extraordinary personalities and the traditional clairvoyant/witchcraft narratives. The person under discussion is the witch of Äksi, Hermine Elisabeth Jürgens (1892–1976), one of the best known Estonian 20th-century clairvoyants. In Estonian, the word nõid (‘witch’) is still used by the general public (a witch is a person with extraordinary powers, a healer, a wise(wo)man). During the Soviet period and also later, the term nõid was construed as an important keeper and interpreter of national knowledge. The article focuses on the life of the witch of Äksi and the corpus of narratives that talk about her, discussing the most common subtopics of narratives and motifs that have led to the folklorisation or narrativisation of her life. The narratives are divided into oral biographies, patient or client narratives (among which stories of divination stand out), and a smaller corpus, which contains the occurrences of the narrativisation of a person. The witch of Äksi was a city-born urbanite, who adapted to country life and unfamiliar socio-political circumstances. The narratives reflect the traditional duties of a witch/clairvoyant: looking for missing family members; searching for criminals or missing people in co-operation with the authorities; looking for stolen goods and animals; helping with matters of love and family relations; predicting one’s future and fate; healing, and single political prophesies.


  • Estonian Literary Museum, Vanemuise 42, 51003 Tartu, Estonia


Document Type

Publication order reference


YADDA identifier

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