Who is Ior Bock?

Ior Bock is the person who told the Bock Saga to the world. That is one of the very few uncontested statements about him. For the rest, he is an enigma. And because so many people had such strong opinions on him and the facts of his life, you can call him highly controversial.

I spoke to many people that knew him very well over many years. I have seen many official documents stating his name, birthplace and so on. His life has been documented in detail over long periods of time. There are countless witnesses who can tell when and where they were with Ior and what they did together.

It starts with his birth. There are conflicting stories and documents where he was born. OK, it was World War II – things were not always clear. Sometimes it is not clear who is the father of a given person, but about the identity of the mother there is usually little discussion. Not in Ior’s case. The official documents state that Kate Kaartinen is the mother. That is what she stated herself as well. Ior sent cards to her for Mother’s Day, wherever he was on the planet, but yet he denied that she was his mother. Rachel Boxström, who was his adopted mother according to the official papers, said that she was the real mother.

There are conflicting stories over his career. Did he or did he not do a world tour with his solo theatre show? One would think that would leave plenty traces of irrefutable evidence. No, not in the case of Ior Bock.

People that knew him inside out, that travelled with him for many years, told me he was more or less illiterate. But why then did he have at least two libraries with a large collection of books? And he seemed to know what was in them as well.

Whatever his background, Ior became famous by telling the Bock Saga. More than three decades since he first revealed it to the world, there is  still discussion about where the Saga came from. Did his mother – the Boxström one – and his auntie really tell it to him during his youth every day for two hours, as he claimed? Did he make it up himself? Or his mother? Or was the story really as old as the beginning of mankind? Is the Bock Saga true? Or parts of it at least? Was it how prehistoric people saw the world, or does it just date back one thousand years?

For the media he was an easy target. He was accused of leading a satanic sect. He was accused of intoxicating his followers and encourage them to participate in all kinds of taboo-breaking rituals. I personally know for sure these accusations were all untrue.  What was true, though, was that the Bock Saga attracted a lot of people who could think outside of the beaten track. Some of them were, frankly, right out weird. Weird people get into scandals. All of those scandals were attributed to Ior. My book Temporarily Insane ] describes the most interesting, strange, and funny ones of these scandals.

Those days, many Westerners went to India to find a deeper truth in the Indian mysticism. I mean, they were looking for gurus. Ior was not a spiritual leader of that kind. These kind of searchers came to Ior’s porch just once or twice and never again. The Bock Saga, even being a strange story, is very practical and offers down-to-earth history. No ‘huga-buga’ there.

The people who came and stayed at his porch day after day, year after year, were my friends. Like me they were urban dropout kids whose only interest until then had been parties on the beach. Their only economic ambition in life was to escape the work-all-your-life existence and debt trap. Somehow, listening to Ior’s stories and later excavating the Lemminkäinen temple became more important than the paradisical beach life in Goa. This illustrious group of dreamers became the Temple Twelve. No, I was not one of them. I preferred to remain on the beach that time.

I personally experienced Ior Bock to be the most ‘normal’ and stable person in the room. He just told his story to whomever was around. He lived according to the principal of ‘nobody invited, but everybody welcome’. And everyone was welcome. His house in Helsinki and the other one in Goa was always open to anyone. The tea kettle was endlessly filling teacups. Ior told his story to anyone. And when you were new in the room, he made you feel like he told it just for you. He never manipulated people into this or that action or belief. You were with him out of your own initiative and interest in the Bock Saga.

Ior was a great storyteller. His story took you through different places of the planet, thereby crossing many different time frames. It went from our times back to the 18th century, to the times of antiquity, to the beginning of the ice age and back. I sometimes wondered if his story was actually coherent. But then, suddenly, at the end he connected all the dots of his narrative into one unexpected – but undeniable – logic and true-sounding concept. He then loudly proclaimed, “Boom!”, and sat back with a smile. We were then still busy digesting this eight-track of events and thoughts, while he drank from his tea.

Everything Ior did or told raised more questions than answers. But to many of his closest listeners he brought truth. He brought logic to an illogical world. The Bock Saga is consistent with itself, which is a great property for such a long and complicated story. And the Bock Saga could prove itself – that is if the fabled Lemminkäinen temple would be opened.

For over 35 years now, the Temple Twelve and their friends have been trying to excavate the temple. There is no decisive result so far, giving the answers we are so curious to know, but the word on the ground is that they are getting close. Perhaps then, not only will we discover a whole new facet to human existence but we shall also come to appreciate Ior for what he really was: a visionary.