Toomas is a middle-aged Estonian man who lives in an apartment in Annelinn, a section of apartment blocks in Tartu. I don't know much about his past, other than that he has several children and he is originally from the Tartu area. In fact, since most conversations have taken place in Estonian, and he is mostly a listener, I am not quite sure what to make of him. But he has had some influence in our lives, for he is a 'witch' in loose terms, and when my wife is stuck on a question, once in awhile she will pick up the phone for his expert opinion.
I have gone to Toomas' place several times. I have to say that I am a cynic and have limited belief in witchcraft, sorcery, God, et cetera. But during one occasion Toomas 'fixed' my energy levels. Basically after niceties and downing some free alcohol, I was told to close my eyes while he went to work. I had had a rough patch before this visit, and sure enough the pendulum went swinging wildly when it went into my 'energy field.'
'What happened to you?' he asked astonished. Apparently the pendulum doesn't do that that often. But after some time getting the energy levels readjusted I have to say I felt better. And I have felt better ever since. In fact, I haven't really gone through a serious bout of depression (knock on wood) since. Is that all his doing? I don't know. Maybe the guy is magic.
A more typical conversation happened this year concerning real estate. We told him where we were looking, and mentioned Supilinn, a neighborhood of wooden homes and unpaved roads along the river in Tartu. "Don't go to Supilinn" he strongly advised, pointing out that the energy was extremely bad in this place. And you've got to agree that a patch of Tartu that *still* doesn't have paved roads -- either by choice or not -- is perhaps under some wicked spell. I curse the place every time I have to drive through it, that's for sure. Well, we didn't move to Supilinn.
We are not the only people Toomas has contact with. His schedule is often booked with ladies bringing him their ethereal troubles. He even has a sense of humor. Apparently some women conspire to have their energy levels made stronger than their husbands, so that they can have the upper hand in household decision making.
This reliance on witches seems peculiar when given the fact that Estonians allegedly never truly Christianized. In fact, the only time I have visited churches in Estonia has been out of historical curiosity. Some place blame on the Soviet dark ages for wiping out spirituality. But this is not the case. A great deal of Russian-Estonian homes I have entered have various Orthodox icons on display. They endured the Soviet era as well, yet they still conspicuously show their religious adherence. Not so with the Estonians.
I have been told that witches or soothsayers still play a role in Estonian spiritual life and have even seen a program on TV about it. There are also monuments in Estonia to older witches, like the Äksi nõid, Hermine Jürgens (1892-1976), which spell out that witchcraft in Estonian social life may have deeper roots, perhaps going back to the pre-German period.
Whatever the case, my experiences with Toomas are just scratching the surface. I am sure there is much more to be learned about Estonians and witchcraft.