chapter  13
16 Pages

Matter challenging words

From ‘angel talisman’ to ‘prayer ornament’
WithTerhi Utriainen

Angels – traditional Christian figures that every now and then descend among humans – can be circulated to become present, materialised and embodied today in many creative and intriguing ways. The anthropologist Birgit Meyer asks scholars to pay attention to the ways in which culture-specific material and 'sensational forms' mediate between the immanent and transcendent. The making of angel talismans was structured and guided by the teacher. The terms 'talisman' and 'ornament' highlighted an understanding of the ambiguous and sometimes critical relationship between material practices and words in a religious context. The ritual practice of making an angel talisman also describes a situation in which a novel and appealing material practice with sensational form and corresponding conceptions of agency meets the old, very familiar religion of childhood in the form of a traditional motif. A challenge for the women in the talisman-making was that the traditional Lutheran regime was considered to be very tightly bound to the importance of words.