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Fenno-Ugria employee appointed chairman of Taivaannaula

Patrick O´Rourke

At the general meeting on 29 October, Patrick O’Rourke, a Fenno-Ugria employee and project manager, was elected chairman of the Finnish Folk Culture Association ‘Taivaannaula’.

Taivaannaula is an association in Finland, founded in 2007, with the aim of preserving and reviving traditional Finnish culture and spiritual heritage. Its activities are diverse, as the concepts of traditional culture and spiritual heritage encompass the folk religion’s worldview and calendar, as well as the spiritual meaning of everyday activities such as baking bread or building a house. A holistic approach is essential for Taivaannaula, i.e. both handicraft itself and the symbolism used in handicraft are equally important.

Taivaannaula is a registered association (rekisteröitynyt yhdistys). The period of Taivaannaula’s activities follows the traditional Finnish annual cycle, with New Year’s Eve in autumn, the time of remembering the souls of ancestors. Thus, Taivaannaula’s period of activity runs from the beginning of November to the end of October.

The new board was elected at the autumn meeting in Tampere on 29th October. Patrick O’Rourke, who has been with Fenno-Ugria since spring 2023, was elected as the new chairman.

O’Rourke is one of the original founders of Taivaannaula and has been active in the association throughout. He has served in both secretary and treasurer roles. In 2013, together with other members, he initiated the Hiisi project, which aimed to map the state of Finland’s natural sites today. The inspiration has been the long-standing work of the Hiite Maja Foundation for Estonia’s sacred natural sites. In Finland, there has been a general perception that there are no longer any sacred natural sites left, which hinders the protection of known sites. As a result of the work of the Taivaannaula, a public map application was published in 2022.

However, for the past decade, O’Rourke has mainly been the person in charge of kindred peoples affairs in Taivaannaula. Since 2013, Taivaannaula has also worked closely with its Estonian sister organisation, Maavalla Koda. Taivaannaula and Maavalla Koda have organised joint summer camps and work bees. During the last two Finno-Ugric World Congresses in Lahti in 2016 and in Tartu in 2021, Taivaannaula and Maavalla Koda organised joint Uralic prayers. Taivaannaula has also done kindred work together with Hiite Maja in the framework of the international Sacred Groves Photo Contest.