Mor Sæther

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Mor Sæther

Mor Sæther (born Anne Johansdatter Viker, Grue, Norway 20 October 1793 – 25 April 1851, Christiania (Oslo)), was a Norwegian "klok kone" ("cunning woman"), that is, a herbalist. She is one of the best known within her profession in Norway.

Biography[edit]

Mor Sæther ("Mother Sæther") was born in Grue (now Kongsvinger), Hedmark. Her parents were the farmer Johan Eriksen Viker (b. 1757) and Bastine Guttormsdatter (b. 1768); they had 7 children. She married twice: first to a Mr. Sæther who appears to have worked as a handyman at the Anatomy School at Royal Frederick University (now Oslo University),[1] and then in 1825 to a farmer, Lars Bastian Nielsen (1797-1911). At the anatomy school she was given lessons in anatomy by Dr. Jens Essendrop Knoph; he lent her books in return for menial work. Her second husband owned a farm in Pipervika with 20 cows. There is a story that Mor Sæther took butter to the King, Carl Johan, when was in Oslo.[2]

Mor Sæther was active in Christiania (Oslo) in about 1820–1851. She was several times tried for quackery under the kvakksalverloven (the quack medicines act of 1794), and was sentenced to a diet of bread and water in prison in 1836, 1841 and 1844.[2] On the last occasion, there was a popular outcry, supported by the nobleman Severin Løvenskiold, and she appealed to the Høyesterett (the supreme court), which freed her.[2] She was given official permission to practice medicine and was thereby made an officially licensed "cunning woman".

Mor Sæther was praised by Henrik Ibsen. He had been a tenant in her house for a short time in 1850.[1]

Mor Sæther was the object of a poem, Mulig Forvexling ("Possible Confusion"), by Henrik Wergeland, whom she famously nursed at his death bed. The poem contains the couplet[3]

Min Maane er gamle Mor Sæther (My moon is old Mother Saether)
i hennes snehvite Skaut. (in her snow white veil.)

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Stokker, Kathleen. 2007. Chapter 2: Folk Healers and Folk Cures.
  2. ^ a b c "Anne Sæther". Store Norske Leksikon. Retrieved 18 October 2012. 
  3. ^ Wergeland, Henrik (1842–1845). "Samlede Skrifter (Collected Poems)". Mulig Forvexling (Possible Confusion). Universitet i Oslo Dokumentasjons-prosjektet (Oslo University Documentation Project). Retrieved 18 October 2012. 

Bibliography[edit]

  • Bø, Olav. Folkemedisin og lærd medisin, ("Folk Medicine and Scholarly Medicine"), Samlaget, 1972. (in Norwegian)
  • Haugholt, K. Mor Sæther in St. Hallvard 1958, pages 270–287. (in Norwegian)
  • Holck, P. Norsk folkemedisin, ("Norwegian Folk Medicine") 1996. (also contains lithograph of Mor Sæther by Gottlief Friedrich Fehr, page 181) (in Norwegian)

External links[edit]