Louhi/Loviatar was the goddess of witchcraft and shamanism. It is possible that Louhi was the original goddess of the moon in Finnish mythology.
Louhi´s origins are mostly likely in the Saami goddesses who were connected to life, death, power of the moon and the divine feminine. The name Loviatar comes from Finnish expression langeta loveen which is a state where shaman falls into trance. Another origin of her name is old Finnish word lovi meaning door, entry and vagina. Louhi´s magic and connection to the moon and wolves represented the independent nature of women. Among Uralic tribes the first ruler of the underworld was a male waterbird. When culture became more patriarchal there was more suspicious qualities connected to the moon and towards women. Louhi became the goddess of the underworld.
This also meant shift in the ways people saw the underworld. In the shamanic world view Alinen the underworld was not like the Christian hell. It was a place where spirits waited their turn to be reborn. When Finnish mythos got more influences from other cultures and later on from Christianity underworld became place of all misery and torture. Louhi was demonised and became a presentation of Christian devil. She was turned into an old hag who gave birth all the evil things to this world: sicknesses, pain and death. In Lönnrot´s epic Kalevala Louhi is portrayed as the evil witch of the north.
Louhi shared her faith with several other witch goddesses around the world. She is goddess of the seekers, fortune telling and hidden knowledge. Louhi is connected to the moon, winter, north and her sacred animals are wolves, snakes, lizards and dragons. She represents freedom, independence, magic, intuition and self-trust.
Madderakka, Sarakka, Juksakka and Uksakka
Strong role of female deities in Finnish mythology can be found from the surrounding cultures as well (Baltic, Scandinavia and the Saami´s). In the Saami the mythology the most important deity of all was Madderakka the earth goddess and her three daughters Sarahkka, Juksakka and Uksakka. Madderakka was the goddess of woman who was in charge of fertility and pregnancies. Her three daughters were all protectors of children and childhood. Madderakka was believed to be the earth itself. She was protectof of all life. It was believed that when a child was conceived, Madderakka received the soul of the child from Radien the god of community and it was her job to attach the soul of the child to the body.
Sarakka was the protector goddess of women and many rites dedicated to her were only allowed for women. She was the goddess who lived in the hearth fire. Sarakka protected the pregnant woman and aid her in giving birth. Sacrirfices in her honor were made before going into labour and after. Sarakka protected the woman throughout their whole life, from the moment of conception to the old age. Her symbol was the snow grout.
Juksakka was the protector of men and boys. She was an archer goddess and the goddess of hunt. If parents wished for a boy child they attached bow and arrows to the komsio (saami baby basket/cradle).
Uksakka who´s name literally means the woman of doors, was the protector of entries. She was the midwife and delivered the child safely to the world. Uksakka protected the child since the day they were born till the day they moved away from home.
Kiputyttö (pain girl) (also known as Vammatar and Kivutar) was one of the creators who lived in Alinen, the underworld. People prayed for Kiputyttö to heal them and ease their pain. In the stories she sat in a special stone called kipukivi. She took the pains of the person and drove them inside the stone. It was a large stone that had holes in it and through those holes the pains would travel inside the stone. From around Finland one can find large stones called kuppikivi with holes in them. Some of them were used for healing purposes. In the folk poems kiputyttö was asked to boil the pains in a cauldron so that the sick person would get a moment of rest or she was asked to take the pains and throw them into a river.
Yöntytti (daughter of night) was also specialised for healing. She healed burning skin. Yöntytti rode with a horse made of ice and she herself was made of snow and ice. With her cool touch she would stop the burning sensations. Yöntytti was also called to lower down fever.
Tuonen tytti (girl of the death) was the ferryman of Alinen the underworld. She was a young girl who rowed a wooden boat in the river of Tuonela. She was similar character to Charon in Greek mythology.
Pohjola (also known as vainajala and tuonela) is one more name for Alinen the underworld. Derived from the word pohjoinen (north) and pohja (bottom) Pohjola was the world of the dead. The location varied. Most often Pohjola was far away in north or sometimes deep underground or both. Pohjola was described to be a snow desert, place similar to Lapland in the heart of winter. That is where coldness, evil spirits and spirits of the dead lived, waiting. For mortals Pohjola was a dangerous place but for a hero it could offer all kinds of possibilities. Pohjola in Finnish mythology was similar to a place called Rotaimo in the stories of the saami´s. In Lapland there are several deep lakes with fake bottoms. Rotaimo was believed to be located in the bottom of a bottomless lake. In Finnish mythology the underworld is deep in the underground. It is described to be a long, dark cave system and there is a river (Tuonelan joki / the river of Tuonela) that runs straight into the world tree.
Nine nuisance and diseases
In the poems that come from the late Iron Age Louhi has a blind daughter called Loviatar. She get pregnated by the wind and Louhi acts as her midwife. She gave birth nine boys who became the nine diseases. Boys were Pistos (sting/sharp chest pain), Ähky (horse cholic), Luuvalo (recurring pain in limbs), Paise (abscess), Rupi (eschar), Rutto (plague), Riisi (rickets), Syöjä (syöpä) (cancer). Ninth child was a blind nameless embryo. It usually meant the harmful witchcraft that was practiced in order to harm others. In the ancient Finland all these diseases were well-known and there was spells and chants that were used to heal them. According to the folktales Louhi planted her daughter ´s pregnancy in order to take revenge on the people of Kaleva.
From the same time period come poems which depict Louhi as the mother of wolves and snakes. Wolves were feared animals in the agricultural society. In the 19th century Lutheran church started systematically pay hunters to kill wolves for the church wolf was a living presentation of Christian Satan. Wolf hunts were justified with the Christian idea of people ruling the wild nature. Same happened in Norway and in Sweden and within all these countries wolves are near extinction today. Other animals that were demonised by the church were frogs and lizards which were previously connected to vedeväki the väki/power of water now became spirits of children that mothers had abandoned to die. Occasionally they were described to be children of Louhi.
Another child of Louhi was Pakkanen/pakkaspoika (the freeze / freeze boy). This is story is very similar to Anglo-Saxon stories of the nature spirit Jack the Frost who freezes the grass and leaves in winter. Story can be dated to Norse and Germanic myths with similar stories about giants. In the Finnish folktales pakkaspoika is a young boy who makes peoples fingers and toes feel cold in winter and he freezes the land in the late autumn.
Marras and martaa are old Finnish names for the spirit of the dead. Origins of the Finnish word is in the Indoiranian word marla and the Latin word mors which both mean death. Word marla was used in ancient Finland back in the days especially in the area of Karelia. Marras and martaa can mean death, dead person or an omen of death.
Back in the days a strange event that led into death could have been considered as marras. For example if a person experiences a very lucky event. They inherited huge amount of money or the catches tons of fish and they died suddenly after that in an accident or into a disease. More healthier person was more likely they would die to marras. Marras was not invented to scare people. It was more likely a warning of the things that could happen. A suggestion for people around to enjoy the life to the fullest. There wasn´t no escape from marras. We all die sooner or later.
Halla was the first sign of the approaching winter. Word is still used in modern Finnish and it refers to the end of growth in nature and the arrival of first snow and cold nights. Back in the dies Halla was a nature spirits who walked on earth turning everything in frost. Halla was a creator of Alinen the underworld because it existed to harm people. It froze berries, crop and plants. Peoples hands and noses. During the summer Halla stayed in the pleasant coolness of the underworld.
Halla was described to look like a ghost. It had a pale skin and it walked during the night creating ice cold weather. It liked to stay in the wide landscape, in the fields and marshes. Halla was mostly a harmless creatures and the best way to protect oneself from it was to dress up warmly.
Akka the Earth Goddess
In Finnish mythology Akka was the personification of the earth. She was also known as Rauni coming from the Swedish word rönn (rowan tree). Rowan trees were Akka´s sacred trees. Akka in modern Finnish means an old woman but in pre-written times Akka was old Finnish expression for a grandmother. It was also a honorary title given to a woman who had lived to old age. She was known as Maanutar, Manutar, Maahetar, Akka mantereenalainen (ancient woman who lives inside the earth) all these names are derived from Finnish word maa meaning earth.
Akka was celebrated on matopäivä (Spring Equinox). Snakes and worms were her sacred animals. It was believed that after the long winter Akka woke up in Matopäivä and all the worms and snakes rose from the ground and danced in her honor. She had a daughter called Manua spirit of the dry land and her sons were earth spirits called mantu´s Akka was wife of Ukko. Finnish god of thunder and fertility. In Finland there is not great deal written information about her. Worship of the mother earth is ancient and cult of the mother earth dates back 30 000 years.
It is very likely that Akka/Rauni and Ukko were brought by the ancient Baltic tribes who arrived to what is now known as Finland approximately 7000 years ago bringing agriculture with them. New belief system mixed together with animistic world view of the Saami´s creating it´s own unique mythology. Balts also brought strong female aspect to Finnish mythology. Akka has many similarities to Lithuanian goddess of the earth Žemyna. Several myths and chants about Akka were changed in the Middle Ages and she became one of the several variations of Virgin Mary. Both Akka and Ukko are connected to fertility of the land. According to the myth Akka took a form of woman who rose from a lake and Ukko the thunder god stroked her with a thunder bolt. That is how earth and sky came one.
Ukko, God of thunder, sky and community
Ukko was god of thunder, fertility and weather in Finnish mythology and he was one of the most respected gods in Finnish pantheon. His name literally means an old man in modern Finnish but in the pre-Christian times Ukko was an honorary title given to a man who had reached a high age. Finnish word for thunder ukkonen is also derived from the name Ukko. Ukko was one of the most important gods because he provided rain which was essential in the agricultural society. Several Finnish scholars of folklore have suggested that Ukko evolved from an even older Finnish deity called Ilma, god of the air. This suggestion is supported by the fact that many other Finno-Ugric tribes worshiped a god called Inmar.Ukko´s origins can be also tracked to Baltic myths. Lithuanian thunder god Perkunas, Latvian Perkons and Slavic Perun all share similarities with Ukko. God of the thunder was a very common character in all cultures where people spoke Indo-European languages.
It was believed that Ukko created lightnings with a hammer, sword or by shooting arrows. In Finland Ukko´s role was most often connected to fertility. He was very popular god among young women who performed love spells. Ukko´s assistance was also seeked when couples had difficulties to have children. Sometimes Ukko was also worshiped as a god of battle and god of hunting. Later when church rose to power in Finland and in the rest of Scandinavia Ukko´s reputation as the god of fertility and the sky was used to convert people into Christianity by making Ukko equivalent to Christian god.
When agriculture became more established Ukko was called Ukko Ylijumala (Ukko the highest of the gods). Ukko was celebrated during a festival called Ukon Vakat. Ukon Vakat included good food, drinking, singing and dancing. It was communal festival that gathered several families and communities together. Ukon Vakat took place on Midsummer Solstice. Ukko has shamanic origins. Before he became a humanised character in ancient Finland people believed that sky and thunder was ruled by the thunder bird Ukkoslintu or Kokkolintu. Ukkoslintu was probably a giant eagle who was worshipped by the hunter-gatherers as one of their totemic gods. Similar character/spirit can be found from several different Finno-Ugric tribes and from many native American myths.
Päivätär and Kuutar
Päivätär and Kuutar are part of Finno-Baltic folklore. Päivätär is the goddess of the sun and Kuutar is the goddess of the moon. In Finnish mythology Päivätär and Kuutar are sisters and spinner goddesses. Sisters weave the web of life which connects dreams and wishes of all humans together. We can see this web in the first sun rays and in the evening twilight. Päivätär is connected to east, day and spring. Her name is derived from Finnish word päivä meaning day. Kuutar is connected to the west, evenings and autumn. Her name is derived from Finnish word kuu meaning the moon.It is possible that in pre-Christian times Päivätär especially had a significant role as the giver of life and was widely worshipped among different Finno-Ugric tribes.
Minor Farming Spirits
There are several farming spirits mentioned in Finnish folk poems but stories and myths about them are very limited. It is possible that their role was much greater in the pre-Christian agrarian culture. Pellonpekko (lit. Translation ”pekko of the field”) was the protector of barley and he was worshipped in different parts of the country. Beer was made of barley so Pekko was also the protector spirit of beer, which was an important drink especially in the different celebrations. Äkräs was the protector of field and growth. He was connected to turnips, peas, beans, cabbage, linen and hemp. Rongoteus was the protector spirit of rye and Vironkannos was the protector of oat. Name of Vironkannos comes from Estonian word Virank which means sacrifice. In Estonia god of farming and fertility was called Peko. Sometimes scarecrows were called Pellonpekko and children were scared with it if they did not behave. Words like -pek and -pik are Scandinavian origin and refer into a little man. In the ancient stories Pikki was spirit of the kaski the burn clearing. Since Finland has always been very forestry country the first farming field were made by burning woods.
Sämpsä or Sämpsä Pellervoinen was another farming spirit. He had many roles. In some areas he was protector of trees and spirit of the forest. He had ploughed the seeds from which the first trees grew. According to the myth Sämpsä was resting when the winter boy came to wake him up. Sämpsä did not like winter and would not get up. Only when the summer boy came to wake him Sämpsä agreed to help. He was invoked in the spring time festivals to bring fertility to the land.
Sämpsä is mentioned in the birth poem of the trees:
The Origin of Trees
Sampsa (and) boy Pellervoinen all summer lay on the hard ground in the middle of of a filed of corn, in the bosom of a grain-filled barge, he put six grains, seven seeds in a martin´s skin, in a summer squirrel´s leg, departed to sow the land, to scatter thickly seed. With stooping back he sowed the land, he sowed firm land, he sowed the swamps, sowed the sandy clearings run to the waste, he planted places full of stones. Hillocks he sowed with clumps of fir, sowed hills with clumps of spruce, with clumpos of heather – sandy heaths, valleys- with sampling shoots, birches he sowed in humid dells, the alder trees – in looseish earth, in moist land sowed birdcherry-trees, in holy places- rowan trees, willows – on floored land, sallows – on meadow boundaries, in sterile places – junipers, and oaks along the river banks. The trees began to sprout, the sapling shoots to grow, while rocked by a gust of wind, while swung by chilly wind; the bushy-headed firs grew up. The branching headed pines spread out, birches sprang up in humid dells, the alder-trees on looseish earth, birdcherry trees on dampish earth, in holy places rowan trees, willows on flooded land, sallows on moistish land, on sterile ground the junipers and oaks along the river banks.
Magic songs of the Finns, Elias Lönnrot, 1880
Vellamo The Sea Goddess
In Finnish mythology Vellamo is goddess of water, seas and fishing. She was the protector goddess of fishermen who prayed her to protect them from the storms and dangerous waters. When fishermen were kind to her and respectful she gave them fishes. Vellamo could magically turn the course of the wind and create massive waves. Vellamo is considered to be one of the oldest of all Finnish deities and her worship can be dated back to the stone age. Sometimes she is also refereed as vedenemä the mother of waters.
Vellamo´s name comes from old Finnish word velloa which means the movement of water. She is wife of the sea god Ahti. It was believed that Vellamo and Ahti lived in an underwater manor called Ahtola. Water spirits were their servants and they also had underwater livestock.
Cows were sacred animals to Vellamo. Legend tells that sometimes during the morning mist, she brought her cows to the surface and lead them to the land. If a one of her cows would get lost and would end up the pack of worldly cows, they became the property of humans. This was a lucky accident because Vellamo´s provided lots of milk and were very valuable. In ancient Finland cows were sacred animals to women.
Unlike sea and ocean goddess in many other cultures Vellamo was not described to have a tail or that she was a mermaid. She was told to be a beautiful, tall, curvy woman who wore a dress made of sea foam.
Ahti The Sea King
Ahti/Ahto is the god of water and seas in Finnish mythology. There is not much information about Ahti. He was the protector god of fishes, sealife, islands, sea birds and fishermen, who prayed him for good luck in the sea. Ahti is described to have moustache and beard made of moss. He does not have a tail. He wears trousers made of sea foam. His symbol is the trident. Ahti was the ruler of all waters from the biggest lakes and oceans to the smallest streams. They were all part of his kingdom. In the Middle Ages Ahti was connected to ST. Peter (Pyhä Pietari) the protector saint of fishermen.
Fear of Water
Finland is the country of thousand lakes and there are lots of stories told about water spirits. These stories vary in different areas. Our ancestors in all parts of the world had valid reasons to fear water. Things like scuba diving and marine research equipment's weren´t developed until the 21st century and even today there are many things we don´t know about the depths of the oceans. In Finnish language is there is an expression vesi vanhin voitehista, water is the oldest medicine. From very early on the healing properties of water have been acknowledged. Water can also be destructive. Storms and floods can cause lots of damage. Finnish water spirits have this dual aspect. They are not entirely bad or good. They are similar to humans.
Vedenemä The Mermaid
Finland being very forestry country, it is no surprise that mermaid stories and legends are not very common. Mermaids in Finnish folklore are known as merenneito (maiden of the sea) vedenneito (maiden of water) and vedenemä (mother of water). Stories about the mermaids can be mostly found from the coast of southern and western Finland.
Vedenemä was described to be an erotic character who had big breasts, long green hair and green skin. In Finnish folklore mermaids did not have tails. They wore dresses made of sea foam. Image of a mermaid with a tail arrived to Finland as late as in the end of the 19th century together with first children´s book illustrations (especially Hans Christian Andersen´s Little Mermaid).
All over the world mermaids are believed to seduce sailor. Finnish mermaids were not exception. With their beautiful songs and their good looks they could cause shipwrecks but if they that the sailor was particularly good looking they might spare their life. According to the sailors mermaids like to sit on rocks combing their long green hair.
Mermaids are more common characters in the folkore of western Finland. Vetehinen belongs to the storytelling tradition of eastern Finland. It was a male water spirit, who ´s skin was either green, Gray or blue and it looked like an old man. It had a beard made of moss and seaweed and trousers weaved from seaweed. According to some legends Vetehinen was a man who had drowned them-self.
Vetehinen is similar to Russin water demon, Vodjanov. In Slavic stories Vodjanov is always malevolent spirit who is eager to drown innocent swimmers. In Finland Vetehinen is not all bad character. In some stories Vetehinen can favour some fishermen and tell them were all the best fishing places are. They live in the bottoms of lakes and ponds.
In Finnish folklore there was a group of ethereal water spirits. Utuneito means the mist maiden. Mist maidens were fairy-like beings who were completely made from morning mist and water steam. During the morning twilight mist maidens gathered. Vedenneito means a water maiden. Vedenneito was a humanised water spirit who lived in lakes and ponds and they were the personifications of the water. If the waters would dry out from the lake or the stream vedenneito would vanish and if all the waters would flow in to a river Vedenneito would flow into the river as well. Sometimes vedenneito was believed to be a spirit of a young woman had drowned herself. Another story from Finnish mythology tells that all water spirits were sons and daughters of Finnish sea goddess Vellamo and the sea god Ahti.
Näkki is the most well-known water spirit in Finnish mythology. You can find similar character from Sweden where it is called Näck, Nokken in Norway, The Neck in Britain and Nizen in Germany.
In Finnish folklore Näkki was a terrible evil water demon. It lived in the deepest end of lakes, ponds and whirlpools and sometimes it lurked children under the docks. According to some description Näkki was completely made of seaweed and there for it could not never be killed in the water. In Sweden Näck was most often described to be a handsome man. A talented violinist who seduced young women with his music. There were also stories told in Finland where näkki appeared as a young man or a woman but most often in Finnish folklore Näkki was a shapeless demon.
Back in the old days adults told children not to go to swim too deep otherwise Näkki would catch them. Fear was real because people did not know what dangers waters hold inside them. In the past when a drowned person was pulled from the water their body was filled with black dots. These were believed to be finger prints of näkki and a proof that näkki was the killer.
In both Finnish and Swedish languages there are words derived from Näkki. Old Finnish word for sea shell is näkinkenkä which literally means näkki´s shoe and Swedish word for waterlily is näckrose näck´s rose. There was a spell that person could say before they went swimming which would keep näkki away. Magical words were
Näkki maalle, minä veteen, elä tule ottamahan
näkki to the land, me into the water, do not dare to take me
and when person rise up from the water they would say
minä maalle, näkki veteen
me to the land, näkki back into the waters
Mielikki – Goddess of forest, hunt, luck and abundance
One of the most beloved deities in Finnish pantheon was Mielikki. Goddess of the forest, bears, luck, abundance, hunting and healing. Mielikki´s name comes from old Finnish word mielu meaning luck. Mielikki was the wife of Finnish forest god Tapio. She was also known by the name metsänemä mother of the forest.
In pre-historic times when hunters entered to the forest they asked Mielikki´s permission to enter her kingdom. If hunter wanted to have a good pray it was recommended that they flattered Mielikki and complimented her good looks. Mielikki was goddess of hunting. She is often portrayed as an archer with bow and arrow.
Mielikki was also connected to beauty and elegance. Her job was to make the forest beautiful. She made the flowers grow in the fields. She coloured the leaves in autumn. It was Mielikki who created the beautiful shapes of the trees. Sacred trees and plants to her were juniper and heather. Duality aspects of Mielikki makes her both the wild woman/the hunter and also the maternal/healer goddess.
Mielikki and Tapio had several children. Some of the most famous of them were Tuulikki wind spirit (her name means small wind), Nyyrikki god of the hunt and cattle, forest spirits Tuutikki, Annikki and Tellervo.
Mielikki was the goddess of healing and protector goddess of the wounded animals. She was also known from her herbal skills and she was worshiped by many shamans and witches who practices herbal magic.
Mielikki rarely appeared to humans but when she did she took a form of an old woman dressed up in a mossy hat and gray fur. In the Middle Ages Catholic church turned Mielikki into Virgin Mary in their attempts to convert people into Christianity. Mielikki got a new role as metsämaaria, the forest virgin. As metsämaaria Mielikki appeared to people wearing a blue cloak.
Tapio – God of the forest, hunt and bears
Tapio was Finnish god of the forest, hunt and gain. It is believed that before Tapio adopted the human form Tapio was the manifestation of the forest. In fact old name for Finland is Tapiola. Finland is known to be very forestry country. Throughout the times forest has offered shelter, building materials and gain to hunt but one could also get lost in the forest and get attacked by predators. This is why ancient people felt both fear and respect for the forest.
Tapio rarely appeared to humans but when he did he usually adopted form of an old man. Tapio is considered to be a shamanic god. He helps those who wish to learn more about secrets of the forest and nature. He is god of wisdom and ancient knowledge. Tapio also represents humans love for nature. For he is the forest itself.
Tapio rarely appeared to humans but when he did he usually adopted form of an old man. Tapio is considered to be a shamanic god. He helps those who wish to learn more about secrets of the forest and nature. He is god of wisdom and ancient knowledge. Tapio also represents humans love for nature. For he is the forest itself.
When Tapio´s wife Mielikki was prayed while hunting small wild game, Tapio was called to assist when it was time to hunt big wild game such as bears, deer´s and moose´s. It was believed that Tapio and Mielikki lived in a wooden manor in the heart of the forest. Minor nature spirits, forest elves and dryads were their servants. Both Tapio and Mielikki were shape sifters and could turn themselves into trees and bears.
Minor Nature Spirits
Nyyrikki and Nyypetti
Some of minor nature deities are children of Mielikki and Tapio. They have two sons; Nyyrikki and Nyypetti. Nyyrikki was the god of hunt, especially bear hunt. Nyypetti was a shepherd who looked after the cows in the summer fields. Here we can see the dual aspect of god(s). One god was the protector of bears and the other one protected cows not to be eaten by bears.
Tapio and Mielikki had many daughters. Tellervo was the protector of wildlife and the forest. Tellervo was the goddess of the wild forest animals. She often took form of a young girl. In the spring time farmers prayed Tellervo to protect the cattle from the forest animals. Like her parents Tellervo was also a bear goddess and when the bear hunt began hunters prayed Tellervo to protect them so that the bear would not attack people.
Annikki was another goddess connected to bears. She was the goddess of faith and in the Slavic areas she is known as Aninka (sometimes names Aninka and Annikki refer to Mielikki). Annikki´s symbol is the spinning wheel. She was told to sit in a golden chair in the heart of the forest spinning the threads of destiny. Day of Annikki was celebrated on December 15th. In the Middle Ages she was turned into St.Anne. Annikki was connected to hunting. People turned to her when they were hunting squirrels and rabbits. She was a musical goddess. She played her golden whistle which made the animals come out from their hidings. She was the protector of hunter´s dogs. She would ask the dog not to bark or to bark when nessecary. Annikki appeared as a young maiden. She sat on a golden chair deep in the forest playing beautiful music
Tuulikki was the goddess of small forest wind (Finnish; tuuli-wind). Hunters asked Tuulikki to release the animals when they entered into the forest and with her wind powers she could order the animals to run into certain direction.
Sinipiika was an umbrella term for Finnish female forest spirits of fairies. Cows were allowed to walk free in the forest and Sinipiika would look after them.
Daughters of Nature
In Finnish mythology different phenomenon's in nature were often personified as feminine entities. Nature itself was a goddess called "Luonto" and it literally means nature in Finnish. Daughters of Luonto were group of maidens called luonnottaret. According to the legend maidens were moving grains on a misty cape in a foggy island and making it into hay. After spreading it out sea monster Tursas burned it into ashes. As it happened maidens were out of ash for they had to wash the face of the sun's son (Päivä the day) but before they could collect the ash wind of the north east whished it away to the banks of a holy stream and from it splendid oak sprang. This myth is similar to Baltic story about three goddesses of faith who were ploughing hay when a man rose from the sea. He cut a giant tree which hid the sun.
Luonnotar in the old pagan world view mean the inner nature of a person, their inner väki (power, energy). But on the outside nature in all it´s all it´s glory was personified as female spirits, the elements. Daughters of nature are filled with mystery and magic. They are otherworldly creatures that can go beyond our human understanding. They were the protectors of weaving and farming linen. In the poems she can be a young pretty maiden, or a fat old woman. According to the stories that come from the Iron Age luonnottaret created the iron.
Nouse luontoni lovesta maanalta haltijaiden
Rise my nature from the cleft beneath the earth, from the spirits
Each tree species was believed to have their own haltija the protector spirit. Spirit of juniper was called Katajatar (kataja = juniper). They were told to be the most beautiful and kind hearten of all tree spirits. Havutar was spirit of conifer trees. Hongatar was spirit of pine trees (honka is old Finnish meaning a dead pine tree or an extremely tall pine tree). Pihlajatar was the spirit of rowan tree (pihlaja = rowan). Tuometar was spirit of bird cherry (tuomi = bird cherry). Often tree spirits were considered to be daughters of Tapio the forest god and huntress goddess Mielikki. Tree worship was very common among Finno-Baltic and Saami tribes. Families had special trees in the yard called haltijapuu a fairy tree./spirit tree. There was a spirit living inside the tree and during major holidays and life events family members would leave food and other sacrifices under the tree. Haltijapuu was planted when family moved into the house or when a child was born
Hippa, Kuippana and Kati
Little is known about hippa, but the tag game in Finnish is known as hippa. Hippa was the spirit of chasing and their job was to chase the animals to the traps. Hippa was described to be an old,little man with a beard. Kuippana is sometimes mixed to both Hippa and Tapio, for he is sometimes called as the king of the forest. Kuippana was the personification of the forest. He is the forest spirit of the forest itself. People turned to Kuippana when a special
knot needed to be opened or a string to be cut in order to catch animals. Kuippana made sure of the fair game and that animals were not hunted in vain. Kati was the spirit of trees and took care of the growth of the trees
Pines in Finnish mythology and folklore
Birch in Finnish mythology and folklore
Väki in Finnish mythology and folklore
Flowers, magic and superstitions in Finnish mythology and folklore
Suomenusko, contemporary Finnish paganism
Ancient Finnish gods and goddesses, nature manifested
Brief history of Finnish fairies
Fairies in Finnish mythology and folklore
Divine Feminine in Finnish mythology
There are no mandatory books for this course but here are some book recommendations for further studies.
Christfried Ganander: Mythologica Fennica, 1789
Ronald Hutton: Shamans, siberian spirituality and the western imagination
Lars Levi Laestadius: Fragments of Lappish Mythology (published in English in 2002 by Aspasia books)
Elias Lönnrot: Kalevala Magic songs of the Finns
Juha Pentikäinen: Golden King of the Forest, Lore of the northern bear Kalevala Mythology Shamanism and northern ecology Shamanism and culture (published by Etnika)
Anna-Leena Siikala: Mythic Images & shamanism: a perspective on Kalevala Poetry (Finnish Acad of Sci & Letters) Songs beyond Kalevala, transformation of oral poetry
Many of these books can be found from Ebay and Amazon. You can also check Finnish publishing house salakirjat, which publishes esoteric literature and they sell books in several different languages. http://www.salakirjat.com/
Lehto Ry. Finnish nature religions organization
Taivaannaula Native Finnish religion and culture preservation organisation.
If you are on facebook I recommend joining their group for English posts.
Paganism and heathenry in the republic of Finland (article from wild hunt)
Movies and documentaries:
Ukonvaaja (documentary, 2016)
Welcome to the heart of Mielikki. A deep dive into the magical and mysterious world of Finnish mythology. Feel free to do the course in your own pace. There is material for eight weeks and I recommend to focus on one area per week. If there is anything you need to ask or wish to chat with me leave a comment or drop me an-email email@example.com
If you are on facebook you can find me there as Niina Pekantytär and send me a friend request and join my group Fairychamber updates https://www.facebook.com/groups/127711981268966/
Heart of Mielikki
We began our adventure in the forest by getting to know most important forest deities, elementals and elves.
Soothing waves, raging storms
We will dive into the underwater world to meet Ahti, Vellamo, Näkki and other water elementals. Meaning of water in folklore and in healing.
Earth and the Sky
We make our acquaintance with Ukko the sky god and Akka the earth goddess also with spirits that were related to farming. Not forgetting the sun, the moon and the stars.
Power of woman and magical places
Incantations with Louhi the shaman´s goddess and magic of women in ancient Finnish culture. Entering to the magical places of Finnish mythology: Tuonela, Vainajala and Pohjola.
History of old and new Kalevala and magical songs and incantations. Väinämöinen the archetype of wizard and the ways of a shaman.
We shall explore the bear cult and the deer cult in pre-historic Finland and bear´s position as powerful god.
Emuus and other first creations in Finnish mythology. Spells and chants related to animals and animal totems.
Magical and mythical beings in Finnish mythology and different ways to connect with them. Concept of the three souls and traveling between worlds.