Devil's Church Cave
Entrance to the Devil's Church. CREDIT: Julia Shpinitskaya.

‘Magical’ Properties of Devil’s Church Cave, Used by Shamans and Healers For Centuries, Linked to Site’s Rare Acoustics

Researchers studying the Pirunkirkko cave in eastern Finland, a site whose name translates to mean “Devil’s Church,” say the site’s unusual acoustics may explain the supernatural beliefs long associated with the historic location.

The new research includes the discovery of a specific sound frequency used by modern shamans in their healing rituals and efforts to contact the spirit world, a frequency that is rarely found in natural settings.

Devil’s Church Cave Was Used By Mystics and Shamans for Centuries

In their published work, which appears in the journal Open Archaeology, Riitta Rainio, a researcher of archaeology at the University of Helsinki, and Elina Hytönen-Ng, a researcher of cultural studies at the University of Eastern Finland, outline the unique history of the Devil’s Church site,

Their primary focus is on how the 34-meter-deep crevice in the Kololi region of eastern Finland has been used for centuries by healers and mystics claiming magical abilities, as well as modern-day mystics who also perform rituals at the site.

Notably, their initial research found that many of the ancient magical rituals practiced at the site included drums, screams, bangs, and other loud sounds.

“According to folklore, Kinolainen (a noted ancient mystic) would take his patients to the ‘church’ to talk with the Devil about the causes and cures of their ailments,” Rainio explained. “This kind of a healing ritual often included loud yelling, stomping, shouting and banging.”

This same pattern continues into the present, where modern-day shamans and other self-professed faith healers employ chants, drums, and other loud sounds in their rituals as well. As a result, the scientists suspected that something acoustic may be going on at the site that was influencing these supernatural beliefs.

Distinct Resonance Phenomenon May Explain Cave’s Mystical Properties

First, Hytönen-Ng interviewed one of these modern-day shamans who use the site for their rituals. According to the press release announcing the research, that shaman said, “There is a special energy in the cave, creating a strong connection to the surrounding nature and to one’s own roots.”

Upon further analysis, the team determined that many of these activities seemed to be centered at a specific location within Devil’s Church. This included the interviewed practitioner who said their drumming sessions, “especially at the back of the cave,” have opened up “new horizons.”

The researchers conducted an acoustic analysis of the “corridor-like,” smooth-walled back of the cave and found “a distinct resonance phenomenon that amplifies and lengthens sound at a specific frequency.” This phenomenon was most pronounced at a frequency of 231 Hz.

This phenomenon, they explain, “is caused by a standing wave between the smooth parallel walls, generating a tone at the natural frequency of the cave, 231 Hz. Adding to the mystical quality of the resonance phenomenon, the researchers found that sounds made at the magical frequency remained audible “for around one second” after sharp sounds, such as clapping, drumming, or loud bangs.

Unsurprisingly, the researchers found that their modern shamans were using this unique frequency in their rituals.

“We recorded the shamanic practitioner and found that they repeatedly vocalised tones at 231 Hz, which were then amplified by the cave at its natural frequency,” the researchers write.

Distinct Resonance Phenomenon is Rare in Natural Sites

In their study, the researchers point out that such a long and sustaining echo may be commonplace in modern buildings. However, such a perfectly shaped cave wall like the one in Devil’s Church cave is an extremely rare phenomenon in nature. For ancient people who were unaware of the scientific aspects of acoustics and sound, the effects of a long, sustaining wave may have seemed almost magical.

“Where a researcher of acoustics hears as resonance, people of the past may have sensed the presence of a spirit, and a shamanic practitioner may feel the presence of an exceptional energy,” the researchers conclude, “each according to their background.”

Christopher Plain is a Science Fiction and Fantasy novelist and Head Science Writer at The Debrief. Follow and connect with him on X, learn about his books at, or email him directly at