Posted on

P is for Piru

Piru, from Finnish mythology, is considered to be a variety of things. Traditionally, the word has meant anything from a lesser devil or evil to Satan. The word has its base in the word perkele, which is tied to the old Slavic thunder god, Peru. While usually meaning the Devil himself, the word is also used for trolls, ogres, hiisi‘s (Finnish form of demon), and a variety of elves and gnomes that are evil or have characteristics of lesser evils.

In Finnish mythology and shamanism, pirus (both demons and devils) are roaming spirits that actively pursue their prey and the potential victims, unlike bound spirits, such as ghosts. Striking with little or no warning, they can cause illness, insanity, change the victim’s personality, or even possess the victim. (Interesting side note: the state of the person being possessed is known as riivattu. The base word is riivio, which means gremlin, so the connotation is that the person being possessed has a gremlin controlling their actions.) The piru can also possess, haunt and live in buildings themselves, as opposed to normal ghosts.

Shamans and priests may exorcise the piru out of the person, which sometimes cures the illness, but it usually takes years for the victim’s psyche to recover. Folklore mentions a multitude of different spells and methods used to expel such unwanted presences, ranging from using salt to a full-scale exorcism, and sometimes burning down the building.

Due to their roving personalities, pirus have been said to crash occasions, such as weddings or baptisms. Sometimes, the piru kidnapped children that were not being watched, taking them as their own. In these occasions, the child also became an invisible roaming spirit, only able to eat and drink accursed food. For instance, the piru might have knocked a jar of milk over, after which, if the maid cursed, the piru’s child would have a few moments to drink what milk had spilled. If the maid said a blessing, the child would have been punished and left without sustenance.

During the early Christian era, the piru was seen as a corrective spirit that replaced the wrongs. If a household master cheated the workers out of pay, he would eventually end up in the piru’s clutches and driven to insanity. But it didn’t end there, the piru would also tell the workers where the master’s money and goods were hidden.

Interesting tidbit: Don’t fall asleep in a sauna overnight. The piru would become upset enough to kill you.

Interesting Link:

Sorry, I couldn’t get hold of a picture today! Have you read or watched something with a Piru in it? If so, what was it? Also, is there a mythological creature you’re itching to read about? Let me know!


  1. I see this all the time but I read a lot of paranormal. Btw, check out Entangled Publishing if you haven't already. It sounds like it might be your bag.

  2. Interesting! I love reading about mythology, and incorporating it into my stories. Will be going back over your A-Z entries so far.

    Thanks for the follow! It's great to meet another A-Z challenger 🙂

  3. Lovely – I found you through the A-Z challenge. How I love these myths. It's amazing how our ancestors made these things up! No, I've never even heard of a Piru before, let alone, see one so I don't know what one looks like. Sounds a pretty scary individual though. And I definitely won't go to sleep in a sauna. Look forward to more on Finnish mythology (sorry I've missed the first bit – I've got a lot of catching up to do).

  4. When I wrote about my childhood Christmases in Sweden, I read up on the traditions, where they came from and how they changed. And I read about the Piru, but now I can't remember. I think our Santa was not a good person at first, like the Piru, and then that changed. I have to go and read my own posts to remember correctly, I guess. Thanks for stopping by my blog. I will definitely come back here again.–Inger

  5. I haven't heard of the term piru but it seems to be related to stories I've heard with different names. Very interesting! I'm enjoying your theme and I need to check out the posts you've already done.

  6. I've been having fun looking through your A-Z entries. I have never heard of a lot of these. These should be a good resource for me for my literature classes.

  7. Thanks for the comments everyone!

    Christa, thanks for stopping by. Yep! I know about them. One of my critique partners has a contract with them.

    Bess, same here! Mythology is really helpful when world building. I'm glad you're enjoying my posts. It's great meeting you too!

    Sue, thank you! It is amazing how these myths came about. I love learning about the core creatures from what they were in the myths and how they've evolved into what they are today. Yep! lol I certainly won't be sleeping in any saunas either.

    Inger, I'm definitely going to go search your blog to try to find that post. That sounds really interesting! Thanks for commenting! It's awesome to meet other Scandinavian people. =)

    Shannon, I'm glad you're enjoying my posts! I agree. My husband and I were talking about that today how lots of myths use almost the same creatures with just different names.

    Randi, some of these are new to me too. I'm happy you're enjoying my entries! That'd be awesome if they helped with your literature class. =) Thanks for commenting!

  8. Ay blood im reading this shit i keep thinking the only pirus I know about are the bloods gang from bompton california that shit said pirrrrrru means devil shyt thats krazy whoooPP

Comments are closed.