Folk-Lore/Volume 4/Magic Songs of the Finns



XLI.—The Origin of the Cowhouse Snake or Worm (Läävamato)[1]


A SERVING-GIRL was sitting upon a cloud, a woman upon the edge of a [rain]bow. The girl was combing her head, was brushing her hair with a copper comb, with a silver brush. A hair loosened from the brush, a tooth broke off the comb and fell down to the clear and open sea, to the illimitable waves. A wind rocked it to and fro, a current jolted it ashore into a hole in a stone, to the vicinity of a thick stone. Then it twisted itself into a ‘distaff’, changed itself into a snake, stretched itself out towards a cattle-shed, took its departure into a cowhouse, into the litter of a shed, under the scaly husks of hay. Then it rustled into bins, darted along like a lizard, and placed itself under rafters, under the milk of a barren cow It lived at the feet of old women, was always at the women’s heels, used to crawl to the milk-pails, crept lightly to the butter-tubs.


An old woman that lived near a sound was combing her head with a silver brush, with a copper comb. A bristle loosened from the brush, a tooth of the comb crashed down to the wide bay, to the open sea, to be rocked by the wind, to be drifted by the waves. A wind rocked it, a wave drifted it ashore. Hence the autumn ‘worm’ originated, the winter snake obtained its habits [v. origin], that crawls about in a cowhouse, moves quietly about under its corners.


Moon’s daughter (Kuutar) was bewailing her gold, Sun’s daughter (Päivätär) her silver. A tear trickled from her eyes, a water-drop rolled down suddenly to her lovely face, from her lovely face to her swelling breast, and thence it rolled down into a dell. From it a lovely oak sprang up, a green shoot shot upwards.

A little man emerged from the sea, raised himself by degrees from the waves. He was scarcely a quarter-ell tall, his height was a woman’s span, in his hand was a tiny axe with an ornamented haft. He, indeed, knew how to fell the oak, to cut down the splendid tree. A chip of it that flew off disappeared in the sea, the water bleached it into foam, a wave drifted it ashore.

A furious old woman [v. a harlot, the mistress of Pohjola] was bucking clothes, dabbling at her linen rags, picked it up, poked it into her long-thonged wallet, and carried it home to the farmyard to make it into snails, to form it into grubs.

She upset the foam from her wallet, flung it near a cattleshed, among the litter of the byre, hides it in the sweepings of the yard, covered it with the rubbish of the farm. From that the family was bred, the small white snake (worm) grew up, that utters indistinct sounds in a cowhouse, mumbles in the muck, crawls over a milk-bowl, wriggles over the handle of a milk-pail.


A wolf was running along the ice, a pike was swimming under the ice, slaver from the wolfs mouth dripped down to the bones of the dark grey pike. A wind wafted it to land, a current jolted it, a wave drifted it ashore as foam into a hole in a stone.

Ahimo’s girl, Annikki, ever engaged at bucking clothes, gathered it into her wallet and carried it into the pen in the cowhouse. Hence that birth took place, that evil thing originated, the tiny white wriggling snow-coloured ‘worm’.


A harlot, the mistress of Pohjola, was combing her head, brushing her hair. A hair-plait fell from her head down to the open sea, the wide and open main. A wind wafted it to land, a tempest bore it to a rock.

Hiisi’s little serving-girl, a woman of blonde complexion, takes a good look at it, turns it over, and speaks in the following terms: “A harlot, the mistress of Pohjola, has cast it from her bosom, has flung some of her wool this way, has torn off some hair upon the waters which a wind has drifted to land, a tempest has carried to a rock. What now might be made of it, what be fashioned out of the shameful woman’s hair, out of the hair-plait of the village harlot?”

A wretch was sitting on the threshold, a lubber in the centre of the floor, a lout at the far end of the room turned sharply round. They sat with their breasts towards the east, they remain with their heads towards the south. The wretch upon the threshold, the lubber in the centre of the floor, the lout at the end of the room said: “From these might come grubs, earth-worms might generate.”

The girls spin out snakes, reeled up earth-worms; the whorl rotated steadily, the spindle whirled rapidly while they were producing earth-worms, were spinning out snakes.

That was the origin of the stall [v. winter] grub, the first appearance of the evil brood. It was engendered in a pig-sty, reared in a sheep-pen on an autumnal dust-heap, on the hard ground of winter-time. This was its first performance, which it attempted in a hurry. It bit Christ’s horse, killed the Almighty’s foal right through the floor of a bony stall, through a copper-bottomed manger.


Even old Väinämöinen[2] [v. Kullervo], the old son of Kaleva, when he went to wage war formerly, used to sharpen his spears, used to feather his arrows near women in a cattle-shed. His spear was sharpened to a point, his arrows were feathered. He brandished his spear and threw it at a clay-bottomed field. The spear broke in two, the ‘borer’ fell upon the field, a tin nail fell suddenly, a copper ring slipped off and plumped into the muck, into the litter of a shed. From that, then, a cunning one was born, a ‘nimble bird’ was bred, the very best snow-coloured gliding animal grew up.

XLII.—The Origin of Fire.


The Old man (Ukko) of the air struck fire, produced a sudden flash with his fiery-pointed sword, his scintillating blade, in the sky above, behind the starry firmament [v. in its third story]. With the blow he obtained fire, conceals the spark in a golden bag, in a silver box, and gave it to be rocked by a girl, swung to-and-fro by an air-maiden.

A girl upon a long cloud, an air-maiden on the margin of the air, rocks the fire in a golden cradle suspended by silver thongs. The silver thongs creaked as they swang, the golden cradle rattled, the clouds moved, the sky squeaked, the vaults of the sky listed to one side while fire was being rocked, while the flame was being swung.

The maiden rocked the fire, swung the flame up and down, arranged the fire with her fingers, tended the flame with her hands. The fire fell from the stupid careless girl, from the hands of her that dandled it, the fingers of her that cherished it.

The fiery spark slipped suddenly, the ruddy drop whizzed, flashed through the heavens, fell through the clouds from above the nine heavens, through the six speckled firmaments. The fiery spark shot, the ruddy drop fell, from where the Creator, the Old man of the air, had struck fire, through the sooty chimney-hole, along the side of the dry ridge-beam into Tuuri’s new room, the roofless room of Palvonen. Then, when it had penetrated into Tuuri’s new room, it set itself to evil deeds, turned itself to acts of villainy. It tore his daughters’ breasts, the forearms of his little girls, injured the knees of the boys, burnt the beard of the master of the house. A mother was suckling her baby in a miserable cradle under the sooty chimney-hole. When the fire entered, it burnt the baby in the cradle right through the mother’s breasts.

Then it went its way, pursued its course, first of all burnt much land and swamp, sandy and deserted fields, and secluded forests terribly. Finally, it plashed into water, into the waves of Lake Alue [v. Alava, v. Alimo]. Thereby Lake Alue burst into flame, corruscated with sparks, when subjected to that raging fire, was stimulated to overflow its banks, welled over the forest firs so that its fish, its perch were left high and dry upon the dry bottom. Still, the fire was not quenched in the waves of Lake Alue. It attacked a clump of junipers, so the juniper-covered heath was burnt. It dashed suddenly at a clump of firs and burnt up the lovely fir-clump. Still it went rolling on, and burnt up half Bothnia [v. Sweden, half a mile of Russia], a projecting corner of the marches of Saxolax, and a portion [v. both halves] of Karelia.

Then it went into concealment to hide its infamy, threw itself down to repose under the root of two stumps, in the recess of a rotten stump, the hollow of an alder-trunk. Thence it was brought into rooms, into houses of pine, to be used by day in a stone oven, to rest at night upon a hearth in a receptacle for charcoal.


Fire does not originate from a depth, does not grow from a fearful depth. Fire originated in the sky on the back of the Seven stars. Fire was rocked there, flame was swayed to-and-fro in a 'golden' thicket on the summit of a 'golden' knoll.

Lovely Kasi [v. Katrinatar], a young girl, the fire-maiden of the sky, rocks fire, swings it to-and-fro in the centre of the sky above the nine heavens. The silver cords vibrated, the golden hook creaked while the girl was rocking fire, was swaying it to-and-fro.

The red fire fell, one spark shot from the 'golden' thicket, from the silver enclosure, from the ninth aerial region, from above the eighth firmament through the level sky, the far-extending air, through the latch of a door, through a child's bed, and burnt the knees of the small boy, and the breasts of his mother.

The child went to Mana, the luckless boy to Tuonela, as he had been destined to die, had been selected to expire in anguish caused by red fire, in the torments of cruel fire. He went putrefying to Mana, stumbling along to Tuonela, to be reviled by Tuoni's daughters, to be addressed by the children of Mana.

His mother, indeed, did not go to Mana. The old woman was clever and furious, she knew how to fascinate fire, to make it sink down powerless through the small eye of a needle, through the back of an axe, through the tube of a hot borer. She winds up the fire into a ball, arranges it into a skein, makes the ball spin quickly round along the headland of a field, right through the earth, the solid earth, and propelled it into the river of Tuonela, into the depths of Manala.


The origin of fire is well known, its genesis can be guessed. Fire, a creation of God, a creation of the Creator, originated from the word of Jesus, from the gracious mouth of God, above nine heavens, above nine heavens and a half The Virgin Mary, the dear mother, the holy little maid rocks fire, nursed it in a doorless, wholly windowless room. She carried fire in a birch-bark vessel to the point of a fiery promontory.

Fire was christened there. Who stood godmother to fire — who godfather ? A maiden came from Pohjola [v. the sky], from the snowy castle [v. the air], from the centre of an icy spring, from an icy well's recess. She could bear to touch it with her hands, to hold it in her fingers. Juhannes, the very best priest, christened the boy. The name they gave him was Fire (Panu), he was entitled Darling Fire {Tulonen), to be kept by day in the hollow of a golden hearth, to be concealed at night in an ashy tinder-bag.


Höyhenys[3] of the Panutars[4], Lemmes of the Lentohatars[5] carried a child for about nine months. When the time drew near, the time for lightening, she ran waist-deep into the water, up to her girdle in the sea. There she brings forth her child, gives birth to a boy. She could not bear to touch him with her hands, to hold him in her grasp. From that she knew him to be fire, was warned that he was fire.

Who indeed rocked fire? The luckless girl of summer rocked fire, swayed him to-and-fro in a copper boat, in a copper skiff, in an iron barrel [v. in the belly of a copper sheep], between iron hoops [v. in the bed of a golden lamb] ; she carried him in it to baptism, hurried off with him to the christening.


Ilmarinen struck fire, Väinämöinen caused a flash at the end of an iron bench, the extremity of a golden form, with a living portent [v. with a variegated snake, v. with three cock's feathers], with a burning [v. creeping] land-snake [v. with five wings]. He struck fire upon his nail,[6] caused a crackling sound against his finger-joints, struck fire without iron, without flint, without tinder.

Red fire flew suddenly, one spark shot from the top of Väinämöinen's knee, from under Ilmarinen's hands to the ground under his feet. In its course it then rolled along long farmyards, along the headland of a field to the open sea, to the illimitable waves, burnt up a store-house of the perch, a stone castle of the ruffs.

When Takaturma Äijö's son knew that fire was coming, was pouring down, he squeezed fire tightly in his hands, forced it into tinder-spunk, rolled it up into birch fungus. Hence the genesis and origin of fire in these poor bordelands, these wretched regions of the north.


He altogether lies, speaks without rhyme or reason, who imagines fire to have been struck by Väinämöinen. Fire has come from the sky [v. 1. Fire's origin is from the sky, v. 2. Fire has come from the Creator's mouth], Panu was formed in the clouds [v. 1. Panu's origin is from a lump of cloud, v. 2. from the beard of the holy God], is the son of the sun, the beloved offspring of the sun, produced at the sky's midpoint, at the shoulder of the Great Bear.

There fire was kept in check, was restrained near the sun, in a rift in the moon, in the centre of a golden [v. blue] box, under the mouth of gracious God, the beard of the Blessed God. Fire has come from there through red clouds from the heavens above to the earth beneath. The heavens rent into shreds, the whole atmosphere into holes, while fire was being brought, conducted by force to the earth.

XLIII. — The Origin of Injuries caused by Spells.


Louhiatar [vv. Loviatar, Lokahatar, Laveatar, Launavatar] the powerful woman, the ragged-tailed old wife of the North, that has a swarthy countenance, a skin of hideous colour, was walking, creeping along a path. She made her bed her sleeping-place upon the path, lay with her back to the wind, towards the chilly blast, her groin towards a fearful storm, with her side directed due north.

A mighty gust of wind, a tremendous blast came from the east, the wind raised the skirts of her fur coat, the blast the skirts of her petticoat. The wind quickened her on the abandoned naked field, on land without a knoll. She carried a bellyful of suffering for one month, for two, for a third, a fourth, five, six, seven, eight, over nine months, by woman's ancient reckoning she carried it for nine months and a half At the close of the ninth month, at the beginning of the tenth the time of travail was already at hand, She sought out a place for lying-in, a spot for lightening n the space between two rocks, in a recess between five hills. She obtained no assistance there, no lightening.

She therefore removed further off, betook herself elsewhere, to an undulating pool, to the side of a natural spring. The deliverance is not accomplished.

She dragged herself to a stone surrounded by water, into the foam of 'fiery' rapids, under the whirlpool of three rapids, under nine steep declivities, but her deliverance is not accomplished.

The abominable woman began to weep, to shriek, to bewail herself; she knows not whither she should go, in what direction she should move in order to relieve her pain.

God spake from a cloud, the Creator uttered from the sky: "There is a three-cornered shelter on the swamp, on the beach facing the sea on gloomy Pohjola, at the extremity of far-stretching Lapland. Depart thither to be confined, to relieve thy pain. They have need of thee there, they await thy progeny."

The swarthy old wife of the North went thither to be confined, to relieve her pain. There the evil miscreant was delivered of her progeny, brought forth her vicious children under five woollen blankets, nine woollen rugs. She was delivered of nine sons, the tenth being a female infant, on one summer night, all at one birth.

She swaddles her progeny, knots up her acquisitions, summoned the Creator to baptise them, God to give them names. The Creator did not baptise them, the Almighty did not christen them. She sought for a man to christen them, for one to baptise the evil brood: "Do thou, Juhannes the holy knight, come to christen these, to baptise my progeny, to give my offspring names."

Juhannes, the priest of God, makes her a reply: "Depart, harlot, with thy sons, decamp, uncreated pagan, christen thy cursed progeny thyself I do not christen the wicked, I do not baptise the horrible, I have christened the Creator, have baptised the Omnipotent."

The wicked pagan actually took on herself to act as priest, profanely acted as christener, baptised her cursed progeny herself on her aching knee-point with her aching palm. She gave names to her acquisitions, arranged her children as all do with their progeny, with the offspring they have brought forth. She called the girl Tuuletar (Wind's daughter), gave her the name of Vihmatar (Drizzle's daughter), then appoints her son, one for this, another for that. She squeezed one into a boil, made another so that he became a scab, pricked one so that he became pleurisy (or stitch), formed another into the gout, forced one so that he became the gripes, chased another so that he became fits, crushed one so that he became the plague, mangled another so that he became rickets. One remained without having received a name, a boy at the very bottom of the batch, a mouthless, eyeless brat. Afterwards she ordered him into the tremendous Rutja rapids, into its 'fiery' surge. From him were bitter frosts bred, by him were the Syöjätärs (ogresses) begotten, from him proceed other forms of harm. He begat the witches on the waters, the sorcerers in every dell, the jealous ones in every place, in the tremendous Rutja rapids, in its 'fiery' surge.


A blind girl of Tuonela [v. Pohjola], a wholly blind one of Ulappala [v. a hideous child of Manala], the origin of every ill, of thousands of destructive acts, sits with her back [v. breast] towards the east, passes her time with her head towards the south, her feet directed towards the west, her hips towards the north-west. A wind began to blow, the horizon to storm. The wind blew against her hips, a chill wind against her lower limbs. The west wind blew, the north-west wind dashed, the north wind crashed through her bones and limbs ; the wind blew upon her, the chill wind [v. dawn of day] quickened her.

Thereby Tuoni's swarthy girl became big, became round and large. Thus she carried a wame full of suffering for two summers, for three, she carried it for seven summers, for eight years at any rate, for nine years altogether, less nine nights. So in the ninth year she is seized with pains of travail, is struck down by woman's throes, is pierced with a young woman's anguish.

To find rest she started off to an iron rock, a steelly mountain at the centre of the Hill of Pain, the summit of Pain Mountain. She could not find rest there. She shifted her position, tried to ease her on the top of a silver mountain, the summit of a golden mountain. The deliverance is not effected, the pains are not reduced.

She tried to reduce her wame, to lighten it by a half in the interval between two rocks, the recess between three boulders, inside the fiery walls of a stone oven, inside an oaken barrel with iron hoops, at the brink of 'fiery' rapids, in the eddy of a 'holy' river. In none of these does her wame reduce, does the wretch's wame become lighter.

She dashed aside into the sea, into the den of a water Hiisi, the pen of a hidden bugbear, the huts of the nixies. She ran knee-deep into the sea, up to her garter into the wet, up to her belt-clasp into the wave. There she shouted and holloed to the perch, the roach, to all the fishes of the water: "O little ruff, bring thy slaver, dear burbot, thy slime to me that am in 'Hiisi's sultry heat' [v. 'in hell fire'], in the 'fire' of the evil power."

She begat nine sons in the vicinity of one rapid, the proximity of one sound, on one stone surrounded by water, all at one birth from one impletion of the womb.

She sought for some one to christen, to baptise them, carried them to the best of priests, took them to sacristans. The priests refuse, the sacristans will not consent to give them names. The priests solemnly replied, the sacristans spoke firmly: "For this we have not been ordained, we have not been assigned to christen the iniquitous, to baptise the horrible."

When she could get no baptist, no priest that would give them names, she made herself a christener, undertook the office of baptist. So she christened her acquisitions, bewitched her progeny, gave names to her offspring, incited them, transformed one into a wolf, turned another into a snake, made a third into a cancer, a fourth into ring-worm (F. forest's nose), the others into harmful things, called one the thrush, formed another into a cripple, another into a tooth-worm, another into a heart-eater, another into woman's enemy.


The prodigious maiden Äkäätär [v. Naata, the youngest of girls], whose hair-plait reaches to her heels, whose breasts hang down in front to her knees, caused her skirt to flap on the summit of Pain [v. Help] Mountain, at the centre of the Hill of Pain [v. Help]. As no help resulted from that during the approach of the pains of labour she sprang aside into the sea, rushed sideways into the waves.

A bearded sea-monster (tursas) met the maiden on the turgid foam of the sea, the froth of the surging water. He made the girl his own, he quickened her. Thereupon a birth took place afterwards, an evil progeny was born.

When the time of her confinement drew nigh, she came to the rooms of Pohjola, the bath-house floors of Sariola, to be delivered of her children ; to bring forth her offspring at the far end of the bath-room ridge-pole, on the bath-room couch. She gave birth to a swarm of boys, produced a flock of children while present in one bathroom, while they raised a steam once, at one heating of the bath, by the glimmer of one moon, while one cock crowed.

She hid her children, concealed her acquisitions in a copper vat, a 'fiery' washing-tub, under five woollen coverlets, eight long overcoats. She gives names to the evil brats, attached a name to each; she propped up one for him to become wind, poked another to become fire, appointed one to be sharp frost, scattered another to become a fall of snow, tore one to become rickets, designated another the worm, struck one to become a cancrous sore, another to become a heart-eater, one to eat furtively, another to stab openly, to claw the limbs with violence, to cause an aching in the joints, formed one to become gout and gave a plane into his hands, pricked another to become pleurisy, putting arrows into his fist, spears into his wicker-basket, the horses neighed when struck with their points, when the fiends had laid hands upon foals. She sends bitter frost away and caused him to sweep the sea, to brush the waves with a besom.


Tuoni's girl, a stumpy, swarthy lassie with shaven head, was crushing iron seeds, pounding nibs of steel in an iron mortar with a steel-tipped pestle in a doorless, windowless smithy. What she had crushed she sifted, and raised up a dust to the sky.

A furious old crone [v. Louhiatar, the strong woman] ate these groats, swallowed the iron hail, the titurated bits of steel, and carried a wame full of sufferings for three full years [v. for thirty summers], less three days [v. and for as many winters].

She sought for a lying-in place near an ornamented hundred-planked church, in the house of a dead man, the house of a deceased, but found no place there. She sought for one here, sought for one there, at last she found a suitable place in the bloody hut of Hiitola, where pigs were being killed. There she reduced her wame, brought forth her progeny to become all sorts of sicknesses, a thousand causes of injury.

XLIV.—The Origin of Law Courts.

The devil made his nest, the Evil One his lair in the house of a landed proprietor, before the dwelling of a judge, on the rafter of a sheriff, on the floor of jurymen, in the long sleeves of a bishop, the shirt-collar of a priest. There he engendered his children, begat his offspring to become sources of law-suits for the rich, to become law-courts for the poor [v. as a means for landed proprietors to become rich, as a means for destroying the poor].

XLV.—Of Particles of Chaff that get into the Eyes.

A pearl dropped from the Lord, fell with a crash from the Omnipotent, from the sky above, from the hollow of Jesus' hand down on the edge of Osmo's [v. a holy] field, the unploughed edge of Pellervoinen's. Afterwards a birth took place from it, a family was bred, bent grass grew from it, a husk of chaff was formed. It rose from the earth like a strawberry, grew like a three-branched one, being formed to branch by cleared land on which fir branches lie, made to grow by land that has been cleared, rocked to-and fro by a whirl of wind, suckled by bitter frost, drawn up by its top by the Creator, nourished by the Almighty.

XLVI.—The Origin of Rust in Corn.

A cold-throated old wife of the North slept a long time in the cold, in a mossy swamp. When she awoke from sleep she caused her petticoat to flap, the bottom of her dress to twirl, rubbed together her two palms, scrubbed both of them. From that blood dropped, rolled down to the mossy swamp. An evil brood came from it, wretched rust originated from it, sprang up in grassy spots at the steps of the ploughman.

XLVII.—The Origin of Salt.

Whence is the origin of Finland's salt, the growth of pungent rock-salt (F. hail)? The origin of Finland's salt, the growth of pungent rock-salt, is this: Ukko, god of the sky, the mighty lord of the air himself struck fire in the sky, a spark shot down into the sea, was drifted by waves, dissolved into rock-salt. Hence the great pieces of salt originated, out of that the heavy pieces of rock-salt grew.

XLVIIIThe Origin of Salves.


A field-boy living very far to the north started off to prepare a salve. He encountered a fir-tree, questioned and addressed it. "Is there any honey in thy boughs, any virgin honey beneath thy bark to serve as salve for hurts, as embrocation for sores?"

The fir hastily replied: "There is no honey in my boughs, no virgin honey beneath my bark. Thrice in summer, during this wretched summer season a raven croaked upon my crown, a snake lay at my root, winds blew past me, the sun shone through me."

He goes his way, keeps stepping forwards, finds an oak on a trampled plain, makes inquiry of his oak: "Is there any honey in thy boughs, any virgin honey beneath thy bark to serve as salve for hurts, as embrocation for sores:" The oak made answer intelligently: "There is honey in my boughs, virgin honey beneath my bark. Upon a previous day, indeed, virgin honey dripped on my boughs, honey trickled on my crown from gently drizzling clouds, from fleeting fleecy clouds; then from my boughs it fell upon my leafy twigs and in under my bark."

He gathered branches of the oak, peeled off the bark, plucked goodly herbs, many plants of diverse aspect such as are never seen in these lands, that do not grow in every place. He put a pot upon the fire, brought to boiling-point the brew which was full of oak bark, of herbs of diverse aspect. The pot boiled and crackled for three whole nights, for three summer days. Then he tried the salves to see whether the unguents were efficacious, the charmed remedies reliable. The salves are not efficacious the charmed remedies are not reliable.

He added more herbs, more plants of diverse aspect that had been brought from other parts a hundred stages back, from nine wizards, from eight diviners. He boiled them three nights more, three summer days, then raises the pot from the fire and tries the salves. The unguents are not efficacious, the charmed remedies not reliable.

He put the pot upon the fire to let it simmer anew, and boiled it for three nights more, for nine nights altogether. He scans the salves, scans them, tries them. There was a branchy aspen growing on the headland of a ploughed field; the brutal fellow broke it in two, divided it in twain, then anointed it with the salves, with the charmed remedies. The aspen was made whole again, became better than before. Again he made trial of the salves, again proved the magic remedies, tried them upon the rifts in a stone, upon the splinters of a flagstone. In a trice stones stick to stones, flagstones begin to unite with flagstones.


John, the priest of God, gathered herbs, plucked plants by the thousand such as do not grow in these lands, in Lapland's wretched border-lands, in luckless Bothnia, where they do not know or see the growth of every herb.

In summer he prepared unguents, in winter he concocted salves beside a variegated stone, near a thick flag-stone, nine fathoms in circumference and seven fathoms wide. These are the efficacious salves, the reliable charmed remedies with which I anoint the sick and heal a person that is hurt.


An ointment made of every sort of thing becomes powerful by the ordinance of the Father and Creator, by the permission of God. On the earth there are many sorts of herbs, there are efficacious plants which a helpless man takes, a destitute person plucks to use as salves for the sick, as embrocation for wounds.

Where are ointments prepared, where are honeyed unguents rightly confected to serve as liniment upon a sore, as a remedy for hurts? Ointments are prepared, honeyed unguents are rightly confected above the nine heavens, behind the stars in the sky, near the moon, in a crack in the sun, on the shoulder of the Great Bear. Thence may the ointment trickle down, may a drop of honey drip from under the mouth of gracious God, from under the beard of the Blessed. It is an efficacious salve for every kind of injury, for the fearful traces left by fire, for places wholly burnt by Panu (fire), for frost-bites caused by bitter frost, for places touched by cruel wind; it is a salve to put on the grievous wounds caused by iron, on injuries produced by steel, upon the stabs of Piru's pike, upon the mark left by Keito's spear.


A blue 'cloud' looms, a (rain)bow is visible afar off, comes forth from the south, opens up towards [v. from] the north-west. A little girl is upon the 'cloud', a maiden on the bow's edge; she smooths her hair, brushes her locks. From her the milk appears, from her breast it overflows. It flowed down upon the ground upon a honey-dropping mead, upon the headland of a honeyed field. From it salves are obtained to serve as ointments for sores, as embrocations for wounds.


A girl was born upon a field run wild, a youthful maiden upon a grassy spot. She throve without being nursed, grew up without being suckled. She sank down exhausted to repose upon a nameless meadow, lay down to sleep upon a grassy knoll, fell fast asleep upon a honeyed mead. Unwittingly she slept a long time, sleep deceived her, she expired. Between the furrows a herb grew up, a triangular herb. It contains water and honey, and is a splendid salve to rub upon a wound, to use as a liniment upon hurts.


Vuotar, the ointment-maker, concocted salves in summer in the delightful Forest Home (Metsola), at a steadfast mountain's edge. There was delightful honey there, and efficacious water from which she prepares ointment. May it now come to hand to serve as salve for wounds, as liniment for sores.


An ox grew up in Karelia [v. Kainuhu], a bull grew fat in Finland; its head roared in Tavastland, its tail wagged in Tormis. For a whole day a swallow was flying from its withers to the end of its tail; for a whole month a squirrel was running the distance between the horns of the ox, though without reaching the end, without reaching the goal.

They searched for someone to strike, made quest for one to slay the ox. A swarthy man rose from the sea, a full-grown man uprose from the wave, a quarter of an ell in height, as tall as a woman's span. Directly he saw his prey, he of a sudden broke its neck, brought the bull upon its knees, made it fall sideways to the ground. From it ointments are obtained, charmed remedies are taken with which sores are besprinkled and injuries are healed.


Jesus thither, Jesus hither; may Jesus come into every dwelling, may lovely Jesus be the watcher and the best of healers. The guiltless blood of Jesus and the sweet milk of Mary mingled together as a liniment for sores is the most precious charmed remedy, is the most efficient ointment, one that is of value under all circumstances, and is pleasant in food.

XLIX.—The Origin of Sharp Frost.


Sharp Frost! of evil race and an evil-mannered son, shall I now mention thy family, shall I announce thy character? I know thy family origin, I know thy bringing up. Sharp Frost was born among willow-trees. Hard Weather in a birch clump of an ever-devastating sire, of a useless mother at the side of a cold heap of stones, in the recess of a lump of ice.

Who suckled Sharp Frost, who nourished Hard Weather, as his mother had no milk? A snake suckled Sharp Frost, Hard Weather nourished him, a snake fed him, a viper suckled him, a worm treated him to milk from a dry breast; the North Wind rocked him to-and-fro. Chill Weather put him to sleep near evil brooks lined with willows, upon unthawed morasses. Hence he grew hard and rough, grew exceeding proud; the boy became evil-mannered and of a destructive disposition.

Up to this the lubberly boy had no name. Afterwards they christened the child, carried him to baptism to a bubbling spring, to the centre of a golden rock. A name was given to the wretch, was bestowed upon the rascal. They named him Sharp Frost, Ear-sweller, Nail-smarter, Demander of toes.


The swarthy old wife of the North, Raani, the mother of Sharp Frost, seated herself with her breast eastwards, lay with her back windwards. She looks about, turns here and there, glanced due north, and saw how the moon was rising to the circle (of the sky), how the sun was ascending to the vault of heaven. The wind quickened her, the dawn of day made her with child.

What is she carrying within? She carried three boy children. She gave birth to her sons, was confined of her children at the far end of an outhouse in Pohjola, at the end of a hut in Pimentola.

She invited the Creator to baptise them, God to give them names. As the Creator never came, she baptised her rascals herself. One she named Tuuletar, another Viimatar, the last, a malignant boy, she named Sharp Frost, who demands (people's) nails, who covets after feet.


The Hiisi folk held a wedding, the evil crew a drinking-bout. For the wedding they killed a horse, for their feast a long-maned horse; its blood was sprinkled behind the forge of Hiitola; the fume rose to the sky, the vapour ascended into the air, then scattered into clouds, formed itself into Sharp Frost.

The filly [v. Tapio's daughter], Snow White, suckled Sharp Frost. Sharp Frost, the evil offspring, sucked so that her shoulder split, that her milk ran dry.

The boy got nursed, was christened, was baptised in a silver river [v. in the river Jordan], in a golden ring [v. in an eddy of the holy stream]. The name of Kuljus [v. Kuhjus] was given him, boy Kuljus was the name for Sharp Frost. Sharp Frost himself is a Kuljus, the rest of his kinsmen are Kuljuses.

The Creator took him to heaven, but Kuljus thought : It is troublesome being in a hot place, a great distress living in the heat. The Creator flung him into a spring, so Kuljus dwelt in the spring, sprawled on his back the whole summer.

From the sky the Creator uttered : "Arise now, youth, and get thee hence to flatten a grassy plain." Kuljus issued from the spring, began to dwell near fences, to whirl himself about on gates. He bit trees till they became leafless, grass till they lost their husky scales, human beings till they became bloodless.

L. — The Origin of Stones.


A stone is the son of Kimmo Kammo, is an egg of the earth, a clod of a ploughed field, is the offspring of Kimmahatar [v. Huorahatar], the production of Vuolahatar, the heart's core of Syöjätär, a slice of Mammotar's liver, a growth of Äijötär, the small spleen of Joukahainen.


Who knew a stone to be a stone when it was like a barleycorn, when it rose as a strawberry from the earth, as a bilberry from the side [v. root] of a tree, or when it dangled in a fleecy cloud, hid itself within the clouds, came to the earth from the sky, fell as a scarlet ball of thread, came wobbling like an oaten ball, came rolling like a wheaten lump through banks of cloud, through red (rain)bows? A fool terms it a stone, names it an earth-egg.

LI. — The Origin of Water.


The origin of water is known as well as the genesis of dew. Water came from the sky, from the clouds in small drops ; then it appeared in a mountain, grew in the crevice of a rock. Vesi-viitta (Water-cloak), Vaitta's son, Suoviitta (Swamp-cloak), the son of Kaleva, dug water from a rock, let water gush from a mountain by means of his gold stick, his copper staff.

When it had gushed from the mountain, had issued from the cliff, the water wavered like a spring, ran off in little rills. Afterwards it increased in size, began to flow as a river, to dash noisily along as a stream, to thunder like rapids into the huge sea, into the open main.


Fire's genesis is from the sky, iron's origin is from iron ore (in Finnish, rust), water's origin is from the clouds. Water is the eldest of the brothers, fire the youngest of the daughters, iron is intermediate. This water is from the Jordan, is drawn from the river Jordan, from a rushing noisy stream, from roaring rapids. With it Christ was christened, the Almighty was baptized.


Water is the son of Vuolamoinen, the offspring of Vuolamotar, is the washing-water of Jesus, the tears of the son of God which the Virgin Mary, the dear mother, the holy little maid, brought from the river Jordan, from an eddy of the holy stream.

  1. Lönnrot in his Dictionary explains this word by: a night mare; an imaginary four-footed bird that attacked the cattle in the cowhouse. But in the Loitsurunoja it is portrayed as a white snake or worm, addicted to stealing milk.
  2. In Loitsurunoja, p. 135, the cowhouse snake is called the clasp of old Väinämöinen, the belt buckle of the son of Kaleva.
  3. From höyhi, a feather, a snowflake. She was an air-maiden that caused snowflakes, hoar-frost, etc., and was invoked to bring ice to cool burns (Loitsurunoja, p. 251).
  4. Daughters of Panu (fire), son of the sun. A Panutar (Loitsurunoja, p. 250) is invoked to come and quench fire.
  5. A winged creature, from lento flight, flying.
  6. The first part of this passage occurs in the Kalevala, R. 47. 71, where a note explains that 'nail' here means ' Ukko's nail', a folk-expression for the old stone axes that are sometimes found, and which are attributed to Ukko, the thunder-god.