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Earth and Sky in Finnish Mythology

Niina is a folklorist and a storyteller who loves to research and explore myths from all around the world.

earth-and-sky-in-finnish-mythology

Earth Goddess

Akka's sacred trees were rowan trees. Although "akka" now refers to an elderly woman, it was initially used in pre-written Finnish to refer to a grandmother. A woman who lived long was also granted the honourable title. She was known by several names, all derived from the Finnish term maa, which means earth: Maanutar, Manutar, Maahetar, and Akka mantereenalainen (old woman who lives inside the earth).

Matopäivä was the celebration of Akka (spring equinox). Her sacred creatures were worms and snakes. After a long winter, it was said that Akka awoke in Matopäivä, where all the worms and snakes sprang from the earth and danced in her honor. Her sons were soil spirits known as mantus, and she had a daughter known as Manua spirit of the dry land. Ukko was his husband. Finnish fertility and thunder god. There isn't a lot of written material on her in Finland. The cult of mother earth has existed for 30.000 years, and worship of the earth is quite old.

earth-and-sky-in-finnish-mythology

Akka/Rauni and Ukko were most likely brought by the prehistoric Baltic tribes who crossed into what is now Finland about 7000 years ago, bringing agriculture with them. The Saami people's animistic worldview is combined with a new belief system to form wholly original mythology.

Balts also gave Finnish mythology a significant feminine element. Akka resembles the soil deity Zemyna of Lithuania in many ways. In the Middle Ages, several tales and chants about Akka were altered, and she eventually became one of the many different representations of the Virgin Mary.

The fertile terrain is related to both Akka and Ukko. The myth claims that Akka assumed the shape of a lady who emerged from a lake, and Ukko, the thunder god, struck her with a lightning bolt. Earth and sky became one in this manner.

earth-and-sky-in-finnish-mythology

God of the Sky

One of the most revered deities in the Finnish pantheon, Ukko, was the deity of thunder, fertility, and the weather. In modern Finnish, his name literally means "old man," but in pre-Christian times, Ukko was an honorific given to a man who had attained a high age. Ukko is also the source of the Finnish term for thunder, ukkonen. As a result of his role in supplying the agricultural community with rain, Ukko was one of the most revered deities.

Folklore experts in Finland have proposed that Ukko descended from the god of the air, Ilma, an even older Finnish deity. The fact that numerous other Finno-Ugric tribes revered the god Inmar lends credence to this assertion. The origins of Ukko can also be traced to Baltic tales. Ukko is comparable to the thunder gods Perkunas from Lithuania, Perkons from Latvia, and Perun from Slavonia.

Finnish Mythology: Forest and Mielikki

Ukko was said to have used a hammer, a sword, or arrows to produce lightning. In Finland, Ukko's role was frequently associated with conception. He was a particularly well-liked deity among the young women who cast love spells. Couples who were having trouble getting pregnant would also ask Ukko for help. Ukko was occasionally revered as a god of war and hunting. Ukko's reputation as the god of fertility and the sky was later used by the church, which had risen to power in Finland and the rest of Scandinavia, to win people over to Christianity by elevating Ukko to the status of a Christian deity.

earth-and-sky-in-finnish-mythology

Thunder Bird

When farming was more widely practiced, Ukko was known as Ukko Ylijumala (Ukko, the highest of the gods). Ukon Vakat, a celebration, was held to honor Ukko. Ukon Vakat had delicious food, libations, music, and dancing. Several families and groups came together for the communal feast. On the midsummer solstice, Ukon Vakat took place. Ukko is a shamanic creature.

In ancient Finland, before he was humanized, people thought that the thunderbird Ukkoslintu or Kokkolintu governed the sky and the thunder. One of the totemic gods of the hunter-gatherers was possibly a huge eagle named Ukkoslintu. Numerous other Finno-Ugric tribes and numerous Native American tales contain similar figures/spirits.

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Thunder Bird in Finnish Mythology

Goddesses of the Sun and the Moon

Folklore from the Finno-Baltic region includes Päivätär and Kuutar. The goddess of the sun is Päivätär, and the goddess of the moon is Kuutar. Päivätär and Kuutar are spinner deities who are sisters in Finnish mythology. The web of life, which binds the hopes and aspirations of all people together, is woven by sisters. This web is visible in both the morning rays and the twilight hours of the evening. In Päivätär, east, day, and spring are interconnected. Her name is a translation of the Finnish word "päivä," which means "day."

Kuutar has ties to the west, dusk, and the changing seasons. Her name is a translation of the Finnish word kuu, which means moon. It's conceivable that Päivätär, in particular, had a key role as the source of life and was highly revered among several Finno-Ugric tribes in pre-Christian times.

earth-and-sky-in-finnish-mythology

What Were the Farming Spirits?

Several farming spirits are mentioned in Finnish folk ballads, although there are very few tales and myths about them. They likely played a considerably bigger role in the agrarian society before Christianity. Pellonpekko, also known as "pekko of the field," was revered throughout the nation as the guardian of barley.

Because beer is derived from barley, Pekko is also the patron saint of this vital beverage, especially during various celebrations. Kängräs was the defender of the land and all vegetation. Turnips, peas, beans, cabbage, linen, and hemp were all associated with him. Rye's and oat's guardian spirits were Rongoteus and Vironkannos, respectively.

The Estonian term "Virank," which signifies sacrifice, is whence the name "Vironkannos" originates. Peko was the name of the farming and fertility deity in Estonia. Children were terrified by Pellonpekko, a name for a scarecrow, if they misbehaved.

Scandinavian words with endings like "-pek" and "-pik" are used to describe little men. According to legends from long ago, Pikki was the spirit of the burn clearing known as Kaski. The original farming fields were created by burning wood because Finland has always been a very forested country.

earth-and-sky-in-finnish-mythology

Who Is Pellervoinen?

The agrarian spirit known as Sämpsä or Sämpsä Pellervoinen was another. His roles were varied. He served as the forest's spirit and the guardian of trees in some locales. He plowed the seeds from which the first trees grew. According to the legend, the winter kid came to awaken Sämpsä while he was sleeping. Winter did not suit Sämpsä, who refused to get out of bed. Sämpsä didn't agree to help till the summer boy arrived and woke him up. In order to provide fertility to the land, he was invoked at the spring festivals.

The Origin of Trees

Sampsa (and) boy Pellervoinen all summer lay on the hard ground in the middle of a field 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 clumps of heather — sandy heaths, valleys- with sampling shoots, birches he sowed in humid dells, the alder trees — in loose-ish earth, in moist land sowed bird-cherry-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 the chilly wind; the bushy-headed firs grew up. The branching headed pines spread out, birches sprang up in humid dells, the alder trees on loose-ish earth, bird-cherry trees on dampish earth, in holy places rowan trees, willows on flooded land, sallows on moistish land, on the sterile ground the junipers and oaks along the river banks. (Magic Songs of the Finns, Elias Lönnrot, 1880)

earth-and-sky-in-finnish-mythology

Sources

Taivaannaula (https://www.taivaannaula.org/)

Lönnrot, Elias. (2011). Magic Songs of the Finns. Jon Hällström.

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