Lightbringers of the North: Secrets of the Occult Tradition of Finland

Lightbringers of the North: Secrets of the Occult Tradition of Finland

Perttu Häkkinen and Vesa Iitti. reviewed by Antti Savinainen
Rochester, Vt.: Inner Traditions, 2022.
448 pp., paper, $29.99

There is an emerging interest in Western esotericism in Finnish academia. Scholarly research has focused particularly interest in Finnish artists who were inspired by esotericism.

The authors of Lightbringers of the North have an ambitious goal of providing a thorough account of Finnish esotericism, mainly through individual histories. While this is virtually impossible within one book, the authors offer an impressive contribution to the discourse on esotericism and New Age movements in Finland. Although the book is aimed at a general audience, it is also likely to be useful for scholarly researchers.

Theosophical readers might be intrigued by the citation from H.P. Blavatsky on the cover: “The light will come from Finland.” This quotation cannot be found in any of HPB’s written texts. Its source is Blavatsky’s friend the Countess Constance Wachtmeister (1838–1910), who met Pekka Ervast (1875–1934), a pioneer of the Finnish Theosophical movement. According to Ervast’s memoirs, she told him about HPB’s prediction that there will be light coming from Finland in difficult times.

The authors of Lightbringers recognize that Ervast was, and probably still is, one of the key figures in Finnish esotericism in Finland and devote the first chapter to his life and work. (A brief outline on Ervast’s life is available on

The book contains fifteen chapters on different personalities and themes addressing a multitude of topics, like Theosophy, a dark crime story, clairvoyance, hypnotism, UFOs, black magic, Satanism, and the left-hand path. The introduction and chapter 15 are particularly well written. The introduction provides useful explanations of key terms, such as esotericism, occultism, and occulture, whereas chapter 15 presents a competent discussion of recent Lightbringers in Finland. It seems to me that chapter 15 could also have been published in an academic journal.

Some of the personalities in Lightbringers have been familiar in Finnish mainstream culture, some are known in Theosophical circles, and a few are unknown to larger audiences. Perhaps the best-known and most notorious is Pekka Siitoin (1944–2003), who has the longest chapter in the book. His thinking was an odd mixture of politics—he was a neo-Nazi—and occultism of a dark kind, including sex magic rituals. Siitoin founded several unregistered organizations and had some followers. He was sentenced to prison for arson, although he served less than three years.

Siitoin was not the only one in Finland who mixed esotericism with politics, a theme addressed in the chapter on occultism and nationalism. Most of the personalities described here were quite harmless, but some harbored darker ideas: for instance, Yrjö von Grönhagen (1911–2003) worked for Heinrich Himmler.

Given that the book discusses several people with great interest in black magic and the left-hand path, one may question the title Lightbringers. The authors themselves provide an answer: “These lightbringers come in many colors. Some of them are dark, some light; many are serious, some less so.”

The left-hand path is, in my experience, only cursorily known in Theosophical circles. One reason for this may be that HPB emphatically rejected it, as she was a strong proponent of the altruistic right-hand path. The difference between these two paths is articulated in the chapter describing the thinking of Tapio Kotkavuori (b. 1972; Kotkavuori is a pseudonym):

In general, the term the left-hand path refers to a method that aims to achieve a kind of enlightenment, a self-deification, without caring too much for societal norms. The followers of the right-hand path seek enlightenment from humbleness, submitting to the will of the society or of God, and from all kinds of spiritual groveling. [The] aim for an individual traveling the [left-hand] path is to define oneself from this conscious, non-natural point of view, and to ennoble that self by separating it from the rest of the universe.

A Theosophist might disagree with the description of the right-hand path as “spiritual groveling,” but the difference between the paths is clear: the left-hand path seeks for the isolation from the universe, whereas the right-hand path seeks for the unity with all sentient beings.

Vesa Iitti (b. 1972) is the coauthor of Lightbringers and the translator of the English edition. In my opinion, the English edition is better in terms of language than the original Finnish work: in the English version, the language register remains quite constant throughout the text, whereas in the Finnish, neutral language is mixed with colloquial, at times even vulgar, expressions (these are not completely absent from the English version either, but they seem to be justified in the context).

The coauthor of the book, the late Perttu Häkkinen (1979–2018), was a well-known Finnish journalist, musician, and author. His podcasts often addressed spiritual or esoteric themes. Häkkinen’s way of approaching people was deeply human: he showed genuine respect for individuals from all walks of life. Lightbringers is part of his variegated legacy.

The book was a great success in Finland. It attracted a lot of attention in the press and became an instant best seller. Lightbringers inspired guided “occult walking tours” and even a theater play. Perhaps some of this success will be shared by the English edition as well.

Antti Savinainen

The reviewer is a Finnish physics instructor with a PhD in physics. He has been a member of the Finnish Rosy Cross, a part of the Finnish Theosophical movement, for over three decades. He writes regularly on Theosophical and Anthroposophical themes, both in Finnish and English. He was on the editorial team that compiled From Death to Rebirth: Teachings of the Finnish Sage Pekka Ervast (reviewed in Quest, spring 2018).