Ravens have been both feared and respected birds in many several cultures. In ancient Finland ravens were powerful animals connected to witchcraft and often shamans had ravens as their pets. It was important for the shaman or the wise man or the woman to know all the birth myths because it was believed that when you knew the magical origins of all things then you had the ability to control them. Here is the birth poem of the raven:
I know the raven´s origin, from what the black bird was obtained, how the raven was bred: the scroundelly raven, Lempo´s bird, the most disgusting bird of air was born on a charcoal hill, was reared on a coal heath, was gathered from burning brands, was bred from charcoal sticks, of potsherds its head was made, it´s breastbone from Lempo´s spinning wheel, it´s tail from Lempo´s sail, it´s shanks from crooked sticks, it´s belly from a wretch sack, it´s guts from Lempo´s needle-case, from an air-ring it´s rump, from a worn-out kettle it´s crop, it´s neck from Hiisi´s weaving-stool, it´s beak from sorcerer´s arrow-tip, it´s tongue from Äijö´s axe, it´s eyes from a mussel pearl.
Raven being born on a charcoal hill refers to it´s black color and different parts of raven being made of potshred and a kettle directly link it to witchcraft. Lempo is an old Finnish deity that we don´t have much information left. It was sometimes believed to be the darker aspect of Tapio the forest god (or possibly a completely separate being). If Tapio ruled the day time forest and offering shelter for animals and food and material for humans. Lempo would bring nightmares and rule the shadows in the woods. Lempo was possibly connected to death and the underworld. Hiisi is another controversial character in Finnish mythology. Hiisi could have been a troll or a giant like creature but in the earliest mythical layers hiisi was a sacred place, a grove in nature where people went to worship old pagan gods. Äijö is another name for Ukko, the god of thunder and rain. Raven was connected to some of the most powerful Finnish gods and goddesses and it had a reputation of being one of the most magical and mysterious birds.
Korppikivi The Raven Stone
When raven hatched eggs, one of the eggs was heavier than others and it was a magical stone. It gave shaman the ability to speak the language of ravens, understand the mysteries and ancient wisdom of the ancestors and the underworld. Stone could turn shaman invisible and it could fulfill all their wishes.
Raven´s stomach being made from a wretched sack refers ravens not being picky eaters. In Finnish mythology ravens were popular spirit guides for the shamans and many times when a shaman traveled into the underworld they would take the form of a bird. In Finnish mythology there were three layers of the world; Ylinen, the upper world where all the highest of the spirits lived, Keskinen, the middle world. Place for all humans, animals, plants and all elemental deities. Then there was Alinen the underworld. Ancestors lived in the underworld and in the original world view, underworld was not like the Christian version of Hell. It was a place where the spirits of the ancestors waited for the re-carnation. These levels were not concrete places. They represented the different aspects of rebirth in nature. Raven was believed to be a creature of the underworld, Alinen. Ravens and black animals in general were often connected to the underworld and people feared them same way as they feared and respected their ancestors.
Magic songs of the Finns by Elias Lönnrot
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As a fan of Little Women (all four books) I wanted to adress something that really bothers me in the whole Fritz/Laurie debate. If you´ve read my previous LW posts you´ll know that for me the only happy ends for Jo are either with Friedrich or the single Jo. Those are my ships and I don´t care who other people ship. Even though Friedrich is my favorite character that doesn´t mean that I hate Laurie. Quite the contrary I think Laurie´s character arch is one of the most interesting ones in the books (many film adaptations sadly ignore it). I don´t like the debate because it is not only about people fighting over who they think Jo should end up with. It´s about people consciusly choosing to hate certain characters because these characters or even their favorite characters don´t behave like they want in the books
There some very vile individuals who share false information online about Louisa May Alcott and all the sequals. There are people who make fun of Jo because she doesn´t want to marry Laurie and there are people in #teamlaurie who make fun of Friedrich because he is older and poor and they ignore all those wonderful qualities that make Jo fall in love with him or they hate Amy for marrying Laurie. Not to mention certain feminists who make fun of Meg because she is a domesticated godddess. My inner feminist thinks that is pretty harsh since that was the traditional role of the women in 19th century and yes, both Jo and Amy are better rolemodels for modern day girls. That does not mean that it is okay for women to make fun of other women. Whole premise of feminism is about woman´s right to make their own choises and Meg is quite content with her life. Some people also make fun of Jo because she is not as aggressive as an adult as she was as a teen...I call that growing up (do these people remember their own teen-age years?) Even if Jo is not as aggressive as an adult, she remains as her sassy unapologetic self throughout the book series (I just read the part from Little Men where she justifies Nat the importance of pillow fights). It is not only vile people in #TeamLaurie. There are also people in #TeamBhaer who only point out all the faults that Laurie has.
THIS IS ALL SO STUPID!
I couldn´t hate any characters in Little Women or Louisa May Alcott for writing one of my favorite books. Many people tend to forget that Little Women is a coming of age book not a love story. It was targeted for young girls in the late 19th century offering advices on good marriage and moralities. The debate itself completely minimizes author´s messages:
There are different types of marriages and roles of men an women can be more fluid.
Women can remain independent while being in a loving relationship when they are with a right partner.
Women can have a fullfilling career and a family.
We should not make fun of spinsters or those who choose to be alone or ladies who take more traditional roles.
Most importantly money and looks should not matter in the affairs of the heart. Marmee gives this advice to her daughters. She would rather see them happily married with poor men than unhappily with a rich ones.
Debate completely ignores the fact that both Jo and Amy are stepping stones in the process of Laurie turning from a boy into a man and that both Laurie and Friedrich represent Jo´s growth as and individual. It completely ignores Amy´s character arch growing from a vain child into a mature caring woman and the change of dynamics in Amy´s and Jo´s relationship. After Beth´s death sisters actually become closer (which I always thought was very realistic and beautiful). Book centers around Jo and her sisters maturing but it is also a story about Laurie and Friedrich.
Laurie who lost his parents on a young age and has been living in different boarding schools in Europe moves to Concord to live with his distant grandfather. He is an outsider and that is one of the reasons he has no problems becoming best friends with four girls. Because his grandfather can be very distant Laurie does became fixated with the March family. There are times when he is just wonderful and supportive like during the time of Beth´s illness but he can be very immature at times. Jo never has any romantic feelings towards Laurie in the books and she is totally frightened and angry when Laurie develops a crush on her. They are both alphas with high tempers who work great as friends but anything else than that they bring out the worst in each others. Laurie becomes rather obsessed with Jo and his behavior is very intrusive. It is also rather unhealthy and it is his way of avoiding growing up and taking responsibilites. He might be closer to her age but Jo was always the mature one. She has rejected all his romantic efforts but he jus continues. When Laurie proposes it is all about him. He doesn´t consider Jo´s feelings at all.
Jo had a tendency to mother Laurie. Whenever Laurie had difficulties with his grandfather Jo was usually the mediator between them. She was always reminding him not to speak slang and to behave well especially when Laurie was in college. Even when she knows that she can never love him the way he would like to, she is afraid of the confrontation and hurting his feeling and Laurie needs to hear that in order to move on with his life. Amy is not afraid of confrontations. She meets Lazy-Laurie drifting in Europe being all whiny and pitiful but she wont have him either if he doesn´t get his act together and he does. The emotional roller-coaster with both Jo and Amy is what makes him to grow and become a man. I especially like Laurie in the following sequels where he is a loving husband and a father. Good Wives/Little Women II is one of my favorite books, mostly because of the romantic fluffiness but I like it when two people grow to love each others and they don´t even notice it at first.
I love this part where Laurie goes to see Amy after Beth´s death
"She did not hear him cross the courtyard beyond, nor see him pause in the archaway...He stood a minute, looked ath her with new eyes, seeing what no-one had ever seen before - the thender side of Amy´s character. Everything about her mutely suggested love and sorrow - the blotted letters in her lap (his letters), the black ribbon that tied up her hair, and she wore it as her only ornament.
"O Laurie, Laurie, I knew you´d come to me"
It is a shame that so many film versions ignore Amy´s and Laurie´s story. It is beautifully written in the books. I hope that the up-coming film do them justice.
Elizabeth Taylor is my favorite Amy
From the four sisters Amy and Jo were the most similar both having a temper and Jo did envy Amy since it was so effortless for her to get everything she wanted. Burning Jo´s book wasn´t right and Amy did regret it all of her life. She also did look up to Jo and admired her determination, even though Amy´s ambitions were in other things. At the age of 16 Amy already had a better control over her temper than Jo and because of that she was the one who got to go to Europe. I personally love the adult Amy in the books. Jo is definitely a feminist hero but we should give more credit for Amy as well. Amy never copes well with being poor (very much like her creator Louisa May Alcott) and unlike Jo, she cares a great deal about her appearance. This is why from a very young age she knows that she will marry a rich man but Amy grows to realize that marrying for love is much better. I love the part where she scolds Laurie. It does not come from a bad place. She cares about him deeply and even more when he turns out to be worthy of her trust.
I found it very interesting in the books when Amy comes to the conclusion that she is never going to be a professional artist. I felt really bad for her and she was way too hard on herself comparing herself to the great masters. She did continue with her art as a hobby and always enjoyed it. It is hard for me to say if that was a good or a bad thing. She could have reached higher and become very successful but maybe letting go of that dream made it easier for her to create without pressure. As a full-time artist myself Amy´s struggles finding the balance feels very relatable.
I don´t know anyone who has read Little Women and hasn´t identified themselves with Jo at some level. Jo is filled with contradictions. Shy and impulsive. She doesn´t want to be with Laurie, she wants to be Laurie and have all those liberties that were granted for men but not for women of the time. Jo March does things her own way. Jo always had a bit of a Peter Pan complex. She did not want to grow up and things to change yet at the same time she was always very mature herself. She started to take responsibilities of an adult very early on by selling her writings. Jo never writes because of fame or fortune. She writes to suppor her family. Adult Jo worked as a governess in New York. Occupation that was often frowned upon during the time. Once Jo heard two young men making fun of her being a governess:
”I felt angry at first, and then I didn´t care, for a governess is as good as a clerk, and I´ve got sense, I I haven´t style, which is more than some people have, judging from the remarks of the elegant beings who clattered away, smoking like bad chimneys. I hate ordinary people”.
Tomboy Jo is also very good at taking care of others. This can be seen especially with her interractions with Beth. I´ve never liked the idea of Jo and Laurie together. Girls don´t´usually fall for guys who they mother and I don´t think it should be Jo´s job to ”fix” Laurie. Friedrich challenges Jo in a whole different level because his personality is total opposite to her. She is impulsive and introverted and he is more calm and extroverted and they compliment each others. When she and Fritz turn Plumfield into a school for boys Jo can nurture them as much as she likes but I think one of the key ingredients to Jo´s and Friedrich´s loving relationship is that Friedrich doesn´t need Jo to mother him.
Friedrich is already a mature man when we meet him for the first time but he as well grows as a person. When he spends time with Jo in New York he doesn´t really want to accept the fact that he is indeed in love with her because falling in love brings out insecurities about their differences. It is a classical case of the opposite attract- troupe in the beginning but they soon find out that they do have many things in common. Eventually Friedrich decides to travel to Concord to see if Jo has feelings for her. Which was a brave thing to do. There is an interesting aspect in Friedrich. I think he felt bit resentment towards his sister. Friedrich had to move to America when his sister Minna became ill and he promised on her death-bed to her to look after his nephews and by doing this he had to change careers from a well-respected philosophy teacher from Berlin to a language tutor in a foreign land. Life happens and Fritz never complains and he loves his nephews. He often misses his homeland but Fritz is one of those people who don´t dwell in the past. When we meet Friedrich in New York he has gotten there through complicated circumstances trying to make most of it but it wasn´t the life he had hoped for himself. In the chapter ”under the umbrella” in Good Wives/LW II both him and Jo reclaim the control of their lives when they agree to build their future together and make it what they want it to be.
My apologies. I´m a total Jo what it comes to Friedrich. I can´t shut up.
There we have it. What it comes to Jo I´m on #TeamBhaer all the way and what it comes to Laurie I´m most definitely #TeamLaurieWithAmy. Both couples bring out the best of each others and I also freaking love John and Meg who are shamelessly neglected by the (at times extremely shallow) Little Women fandom.
Check out my other Little Women articles:
Little Women: Equal Marriage Lost In Translation
Friedrich Bhaer (Why my inner Jo loves him) Tender Masculinity in Little Women
All of you Alcott fans who happen to be native English speakers do not take it for granted that you can read the author´s words the way she intented them to be read. I recently had an interesting discussion with a fellow Finnish book blogger about Little Women and the special place it has in our hearts (he is one of the two men who I personally know that have read Little Women) but also the frustration that badly translated sentence can cause for the reader not to mention the abridged versions or the ones where the translator has taken artistic liberties. In worst cases bad translation can completely turn the meaning of the scene upside down. This is something that happened to me when I first time read the Little Women II.
I am a Finn and in Finland we take national pride how equality has such an important value in our culture and in the society. This is one of the many reasons why I have always been very found of Jo´s dear professor. Friedrich Bhaer is just as tupsy-turvy as Jo but most importantly Jo and Fritz share similar ideas of equality and it´s importance in a relationship. We can not expect nothing overly graphic from Alcott. When Jo and Friedrich spent more time together in New York, she becomes fixated on him both physically and intellectually in away she never did with Laurie or anyone else. Friedrich also becomes more found of Jo each passing day. They are both very stubborn in totally different ways and it is difficult for them to express how they truly feel. Most of the time that Jo spends in New York is told from Jo´s point of view and the focus of narration is on Jo´s developing romantic feelings towards ”her professor”. When Friedrich arrives to Concord tables are turned and now it is Friedrich who is, rather openly, fixated on her.
I was 17 when I read Little Women II (also known as Good Wives) for the first time and there was something in the proposal under the umbrella that always bothered me and now after a decade later I found out that it was a translation error. In this beautiful scene Friedrich tells Jo that he is traveling to the west to provide education for his nephews Franz and Emil and Jo is heartbroken because he is leaving and they finally reveal their true feelings for one another. They both agree to work hard to build their life and future together. As a symbol of this Jo takes some of the parcels he is carrying. In the Finnish translation that I´ve read Friedrich gives Jo the title of ”professorin rouva” which literally means ”professor´s wife”. I found this very strange. There is all this talk about them being equal to one another and then this. I´ve come to known Friedrich as a man who mends his own socks, has re-build his life in a foreign country and as someone who has managed to raise two young boys by himself. He is not possessive over women, especially not over Jo who he has utmost respect (and heart full of love). Basically Friedrich is like Jo, someone who doesn´t think that marriage should be a goal of one´s life but an union between two people based on love and trust. Neither they represent the traditional role of men and women of the time and their marriage is going to be unique because of that.
I recently read Little Women I and II for the first time in English and in the English version Friedrich gives Jo a German title of Professorin. I happen to speak German and I know that Professorin doesn´t mean professor´s wife. It is not even close to it. It means a female professor. By giving this title Friedrich makes Jo equal to him and Jo is delighted because as a woman (and coming from a poor family) she has not been allowed to continue to higher education. Little Women II takes place in 1870-1880´s and during that time women were allowed to participate on university lectures and exams but they were not allowed to matriculate or graduate until 1920´s. Friedrich´s attraction to Jo is as well both physical and intelligent. He knows she is very well-read, has a sharp mind, her interests hardly fit within the domestic phere and she can achieve many great things if she wants to and he is more than willing to support that. I nearly missed all of that because of a translation error which completely changed the meaning of his words.
Apparentally the Finnish translation I used to read was done way back in 1921 and it definitely looks like I should get myself an updated version. Even if you are married to your soulmate relationships always require compromises. Little Women II does excellent job showing different types of marriages between equals. Jo wants Friedrich who doesn´t want to change her, has good work-morals and challenges her intellectually. Laurie wants someone who he can admire and who admires him and someone who fits into his world and Amy is perfect for that. Meg and John are the most traditional couple. He is the provider and she takes care of the home and children and that is their agreement.
Check out my previous Little Women article as well:
Quest of Friedrich Bhaer (and why my inner Jo loves him)
Thoughts on TeamLaurie and TeamBhaer
You can also find me on instagram @fairychamberart
As always I would love to hear your thoughts. Have you read abridged or strangely translated version of Little Women or it´s sequels or any other books? What do you think about the equality aspect of Jo´s and Fritz relationship? (I´d say #relationshipgoals)
I finally managed to finish my Sparrow Hawk painting and I must say I am rather pleased the way it turned out. If someone is not familiar with Sparrow Hawk his real name is Ged and he is the hero in Ursula K. Leguin´s Earth sea books (not to mention one of my longest time literal crushes). Ged has the ability to shapeshift himself into a Sparrow Hawk. He is also the archmage of the Earth Sea. A mage, a wizard, a warlock...man is magic! In the books he is described to have "hawk-like" - features so that is what I tried to capture. Watercolors and mixed media.
Stickers, t-shirts, posters and other cool things based on this illustration can be found from my Redbubble store.
An older video of mine I did couple years ago. This is all about words. My favorite Finnish, English and German words. Enjoy )O(
In the agricultural society all holidays were connected to the land. Spring was the time sowing, ploughing and other farm works. To this list I have collected Finnish spring holidays which majority (if not all) have pagan origins.
Maaliskuu - March
Derived from the word maa meaning earth. Soil and dirt was revealing itself when the snow was melting.
Kevätpäiväntasaus / Matopäivä – Spring Equinox, day of the snakes 20-21.3
Nature wakes up. Day of Akka the earth goddess. It was believed that snakes and worms woke up from the hibernations and gathered into the fields to dance. Shaking of the earth woke Akka from her sleep.
Mato-Pentti – Worm Pentti 21.3
Snakes rise to enjoy the sunlight
Marjan päivä – the day of Marja 25.3
Day of the Virgin Mary. Mother of life.
Virposunnuntai – Virpo Sunday (week before Easter)
Virpominen is a Finnish easter custom. Bundle of willow twigs are used for casting spells for good luck for friends, neighbours and family members. Custom is still practiced today by children in Western Finland each Easter.
Easter Week (you can read more about Finnish Easter celebration customs here).
Kiirastorstai – Maundy Thursday
People cast spells to keep away kiira´s, evil spirits that were sent by vicious people.
Lanka-Lauantai (string saturday) – Holy Saturday
Powerful day for witches. Spells performed in cross-roads at midnight were extremely powerful.
Huhtikuu - April
Derived from the word huhta which is an old word for a broomstick or a bundle. Other old names of the month were sulamakuu (melting month) suvikuu (summer month) and kiimakuu (the heath month). Nature is filled with life and birds are mating. First butterflies appear.
Suviyöt ja Suvipäivä – Summer nights and summer day 12-14.4
Beginnig of summer. Cattle was released to the fields.
Jyrin päivä – day of Jyri 23.4
Cattle was let to wonder in the forest and were protected with spells. Sacrfices were given for the forest elves and the protector spirits of the cattle.
Markun päivä – day of Markku 25.4
Farming began in southern Finland. Time to divinate the summer weather.
Toukokuu - May
Derived from an old Finnish word Touko meaning growth. Planting begins.
Hela, Vappu, Valpuri – May Day 1.5
May day festival. Included music, dancing and drinking mead. Little girls attached bells into their feet. Pagan name of the holiday was Hela. Time for witches to charge their powers. Bonfires were lit to keep evil spirits away.
During the time of Catholism celebration was turned into St. Valpurg´s day. In the beginning of the 19th century name was changed again into Vappu, the international worker´s day. In modern day Finland vappu is mainly the holiday of students.
Ristin päivä – Day of the cross 3.5
Last day to let cattle outside. Day of the fishermen. In Savonia start of sow.
Horses were let to graze in the forest and were protected with spells. Hay starts to grow.
Time of dancing and flirting.
Erkin päivä – Day of Erkki 18.5
Beginning of summer.
Urpon päivä – day of Urpo 25.5
Weather starts to get warm. New vihtas (bundles) were made for saunas. End of ploughing.
Pikkukesä – Little Summer (end of May)
Nature is blossoming
images: unsplash & pixabay
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Artist and Illustrator. Mythology and Folklore enthusiastic. Keen traveler. Comes from Finland. Likes cats, tea, and such.
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