Joralf Gjerstad, known as “Snåsamannen”(meaning “The man from Snåsa” or “the Snaasa man”), was born in the winter of 1926 in Snåsa — a small town located in the county of Trøndelag, in the middle of Norway.
Growing up, he was a shy and quiet boy.
While the other kids were playing football or music together, he preferred to be by himself — often out hiking in nature.
As early as the age of 8, Joralf began working as a shepherd for a local farmer.
This was around the time he would have his first (literal) hands-on experience with his paranormal abilities.
It All Began With A Sore Tooth
The son of the local pastor, who was around Joralf’s age at the time, complained to him about a painful toothache.
Joralf laid one of his hands on the cheek of the boy when a distinct warmth started emanating from his palm.
After a short while, it became clear that the boy’s toothache had subsided.
“I am able to feel where someone is hurting when I touch them.
This is why I have been able to help people…”
– Joralf Gjerstad, “The Snaasa man”
Realizing that his toothache had gone away, the pastor’s son thanked Joralf before running off with a smile.
The “healer” himself, however, was left feeling a bit anxious.
From an early age, he would have strange visions and intuitive moments of clarity, such as precognition.
Being a young child at the time, he didn’t know what to make of these phenomena and went on with his life as usual.
The apparent healing of a toothache, however, was a very direct and clear-cut affair — something he could not put aside so easily.
Visions of a Different Life
Why could he do this?
Why was he different from the other kids?
Pondering these questions, he went through his days as a shepherd until the age of 14.
He then moved on to work as a farmhand for a while, before ending up as a control assistant at a dairy farm.
Up until that point, he had spent his entire life around agriculture, so it appeared like a good career choice at the time.
Seemingly having found his place, Joralf spent over two decades leading a fairly normal life as a dairy control assistant.
One fateful day, however, he would receive a powerful vision that would change his life forever.
While resting after a long cycling trip with his girlfriend Signe, his mind was shown images of him and her together with children.
He also saw himself working at a church, and felt strongly that he belonged there for some reason.
Sure enough, Joralf and Signe ended up marrying and having 3 children together.
Additionally, an usher position for the local church opened up just at the right moment.
Joralf hesitated at first, but was eventually persuaded to take the position by the priest who served there.
The Holy Touch
While working at the church, Joralf began using his apparent healing powers on some of the churchgoers.
He helped them with a wide array of different problems — from sore throats and joint pains, to anxiety and grief over dying family members.
Apparently, these sessions helped a great number of the churchgoers, and many came to believe he had a ‘holy’ quality to him.
Joralf performed every treatment completely free of charge.
He perceived his abilities to be a gift (and, to some extent, a burden or test) from above.
Therefore, he felt it was his duty to do this work without payment.
Word of Mouth
Soon, the word of his abilities (and their non-existing price tag, no doubt) spread.
By 1975, large groups of believers were coming from near and far.
By way of boats, buses, cars, and horse carts, flocks of people came to witness the church usher with the healing hands.
“I do nothing, except touch them and talk to them…
I can’t take the credit for anything.”
– Joralf Gjerstad, “The Snaasa man”
The priest eventually set aside a room where Joralf could tend to people in private.
Men and women, young and old — people showed up in droves, and more kept coming.
In the end, the priest decided to put a stop to the sessions, as the sheer volume of visitors were clearly taking their toll on his humble usher.
The village doctor, as he was then being called, admittedly felt relieved.
Yes, he was exhausted, but there was a bigger issue tearing at Joralf’s mind:
The visitors were giving too much attention to him and his powers, instead of the church itself and what he felt it represented.
Nevertheless, he was thankful for the love and appreciation he was given by the people.
He came to accept his role as “a weird one” in the local community, as he himself put it.
Despite loving those around him, however, his feeling of alienation continued as he got older.
He still preferred wandering in the forests and mountain ranges alone — away from the bustle and noise of the crowd.
There, he belonged, he said.
There, he felt at peace.
Believers & Naysayers
Throughout the years, there’s been no shortage of people who believed in the Snaasa man and his abilities.
Still, he has been met with plenty of skepticism as well — some going as far as calling him a charlatan.
Despite the critics, though, Joralf kept treating people to the best of his abilities.
“When people experience something “impossible” and unbelievable today… too many of them do not accept the consequences of it.
They trust blindly in their intellect, their learning, and the material things which surround them.”
– Joralf Gjerstad, “The Snaasa man”
After his biography was published in 2008, the public at large could, for the first time, learn about the Snaasa man’s life and his true personality.
In the following years, quite a few Norwegian public figures came forward with their own stories, attesting to the reality of his talents.
They included a police chief, a supreme court attorney, various celebrities, and a handful of athletes.
One notable example is the Olympic gold medalist and World champion cross-country skier, Petter Northug.
A Champion In Trouble
In 2011, Northug had been spending a lot of time in Val Senales in the Italian Alps.
There, he underwent grueling training regiments, in preparation for the FIS World Ski Championships.
A couple of months before the grand competition, Northug’s body suddenly quit on him.
He had dealt with burnouts before, but nothing like this — he couldn’t even walk up a flight of stairs without taking breaks.
Days went by without his energy levels returning.
If this kept up, he could kiss the gold goodbye.
Eventually, he decided to visit the Snaasa man.
Northug had already spoken to him via phone two years prior when he dealt with a stuffy nose and headaches.
Back then, he skier initially called the old man half in jest, but found that the conversations somehow helped his condition.
This time, however, it was much more serious.
Healing An Olympian
They decided it would be best to meet in person so that Joralf could make use of his famous ‘warm hands’.
The Snaasa man treated Northug’s arms, legs, and chest area in three different sessions spread throughout a single day.
Soon after finishing, the world-class skier felt something “like a glow” inside of him.
He thanked the old healer and headed home with steadily-increasing vigor.
Many had been skeptical about the visit between the two.
Nevertheless, the Snaasa man seemed to have had a very real effect on Northug’s health.
Soon after the meeting, the skier had regained all his lost energy and then some.
He ended the world championships with 3 new gold medals and 2 silver — a fantastic performance, even by Norwegian standards.
These days, the public eye has shifted away from the special man from Snaasa.
Joralf, approaching his mid-90’s, is now in a wheelchair, and spends most of his days at a nursing home.
After his dearly-loved wife, Signe, passed away in late 2017, he has spent much of his days writing down various thoughts and poems.
He still gets healing requests from time to time, and rarely turns anyone down.
Overall, however, things have slowed down greatly since his busy days at the church.
And that may be for the best.
According to Joralf, his abilities are starting to wane due to his advanced age, and his energy levels are decreasing.
Now, he wants to spend his last days where he always felt he belonged:
Among the rivers, trees, and mountains, with his mind at peace.
“I believe death presents us with something better than life.
In this life, we are evolving to something more, from cradle to grave.
Why would this evolution not continue?”
– Joralf Gjerstad, “The Snaasa man