The writer Marian Männi from the site Research in Estonia outlines the role of magic in a country that ranks as one of the least religious in the world. Based in part on the findings of folklorist Reet Hiiemäe, she explores the magical realities that manifest in the Estonian psyche. Additionally, the article tries to untie the complicated knot of how Estonian can oscillate between different belief systems which may at times seem contradictory to each other.
Estonians may not say they are religious in polls, but they do have diverse spiritual beliefs, which is helpful in times of plagues and personal crises, according to the recent article by Estonian folklorist Reet Hiiemäe.
The Role of Magic and Folk Beliefs
Fear and belief go hand in hand, research has shown, and what better subject to show this than the COVID19 pandemic! Several studies already show how religiousness intensified in the past year. Estonia, however, is a curious case, because it has been often tagged as the least religious country in the world. In 2009, polling giant Gallup concluded that religion plays the least role in Estonia compared to any other country. In the last national poll in 2011, only 19 percent of Estonian speakers said they "ascribe to" a certain religion (of those, 72 percent indicated they were Lutherans).
It's cold and dark for the greater part of the year in Estonia, and its people don't usually gather up to get through the dark times. Estonians value their personal space and independence, both of which are not difficult to achieve in one of the least densely populated countries of Europe. Not to mention constant wars that have ravaged the land throughout centuries. What is the Estonians' secret? It is their positively charged beliefs and magic, concluded Estonian folklorist and researcher Reet Hiiemäe.