Finnish Neopaganism, or the Finnish native faith (Finnish: Suomenusko: "Finnish Faith") is the contemporary Neopagan revival of Finnish paganism, the pre-Christian polytheistic ethnic religion of the Finns. A precursor movement was the Ukonusko ("Ukko's Faith", revolving around the god Ukko) of the early 20th century. The main problem in the revival of Finnish paganism is the nature of pre-Christian Finnish culture, which relied on oral tradition and of which very little is left. The primary sources concerning Finnish native culture are written by latter-era Christians. They may be biased, tainted or unreliable. The national epic is the Kalevala.
History and features
Pagan beliefs, traditions and myths survived for a long time side by side with official Lutheranism in Eastern Finland and in Karelia, at least until the first part of the 20th century. The first efforts of recovery of ancient mythology were carried out to enrich national Finnish culture.
Nature worship, respect for traditions, and equality are typical features of the Neopagan movement. The Finnish native religion can be defined as "ethno-pagan", as it is related to national consciousness and identity. Finnish native religion followers do not necessarily consider themselves "Neopagans" or identify with new religions such as Wicca.
They emphasise love for the motherland as a key content of a balanced relationship of humans with nature, old and new generations, as well as individual and community. The Finnish native faith believers hold sacred many unspoiled natural places, woods, springs and rocks. They consider the numinous presence of the gods, the ancestors and the spirits, as pervading the natural sites and environments (hiisi).
The Finnish native religion is polytheistic, with a pantheon of many deities worshipped: Ukko the sky god, and chief deity in the Finnish pantheon, Akka the goddess of fertility, and wife of Ukko, Ahti, Tapio, Pekko, Nyyrikki, Mielikki, Ilmarinen (the god of sky and weather who some consider to be the same as Ukko), Louhi, Turisas, Haltijas (elven spirits), Lemminkäinen (mythical hero), Väinämöinen (mythical hero, creator god and god of poetry and music and magic), Hiisi (spirit of the holy place, genius loci), Jumi (fertility god or statue that gives fertility).
The religion also includes an element of ancestor worship. For Finnish native religion adherents, the afterlife is a place called Tuonela, and it is a place where several different deities live, including Tuoni.
Various traditional festivals are followed, including Hela, a festival celebrating the coming of spring and the new growing season, Juhannus or Ukon juhla, the midsummer festival, Kekri, a celebration of harvest and the ancestors, and Joulu, the midwinter festival.
Some Finnish Neopagans visit sacred forests, where wooden god-images or sacred stones can sometimes be found. Some celebrate the circling of the year at certain dates, for example by burning bonfires, dancing, sacrificing, or making other kinds of rituals. One ritual, which is also an authentic practice of the ancestors, is to drink a toast for the thunder god Ukko at the midsummer festival (Finnish: Ukon juhla).
Lemminkäinen (Finnish pronunciation: [ˈlemːiŋˌkæinen]) or Lemminki (Finnish pronunciation: [ˈlemːiŋki]) is a prominent figure in Finnish mythology. He is one of the Heroes of the Kalevala, where his character is a composite of several separate heroes of oral poetry. He is usually depicted as young and good-looking, with wavy red hair.
The original, mythological Lemminkäinen is a shamanistic figure. In the Kalevala, he has been blended together with epic war-heroes Kaukomieli/Kaukamoinen and Ahti Saarelainen.
In one myth, he drowns in the river of Tuonela (the underworld) in trying to capture or kill the black swan that lives there as part of an attempt, as Ilmarinen once made, to win a daughter of Louhi as his wife
Louhi (Finnish pronunciation: [ˈlouɦi]) is a queen of the land known as Pohjola in Finnish, Karelian and Lappish mythology.
In mythology Louhi is described as a powerful witch with the ability to change shape and weave mighty enchantments. She is also the main opponent of Väinämöinen and his group in the battle for the magical artifact Sampo in the Kalevala. She has a number of beautiful daughters, whom Ilmarinen, Lemminkäinen and other heroes attempt to win in various legends. In true fairy tale form, Louhi sets them difficult to impossible tasks to perform in order to claim such a prize, which leads to the forging of the Sampo.
As many mythological creatures and objects are easily conflated and separated in Finnish mythology, Louhi is probably an alter-ego of various other goddesses, notably Loviatar.
Ilmarinen, the Eternal Hammerer, blacksmith and inventor in the Kalevala, is a god and an archetypal artificer from Finnish mythology. He is immortal and capable of creating practically anything, but is portrayed as being unlucky in love. He is described as working the known metals of the time, including brass, copper, iron, gold and silver. The great works of Ilmarinen include the crafting of the dome of the sky and the forging of the Sampo. His usual epithet in the Kalevala is seppo, a poetic word for "smith" and the source of the given name Seppo.
Tapio is an East Finnish forest spirit or god, who figures prominently in the Kalevala. Hunters prayed to him before a hunt. His wife is the goddess of the forest, Mielikki. He was the father of Annikki, Tellervo, Nyyrikki (the god of hunting), and Tuulikki. Fitting the Green Man archetype, Tapio has a beard of lichen and eyebrows of moss.
Ahti. In Finnish mythology, Ahti or Ahto is a heroic character of oral poetic tradition. Sometimes given in folk poetry the epithet of Saarelainen or the Islander, he is described as a fierce sea-going warrior. Ahti Saarelainen was one of the heroic figures Elias Lönnrot artificially compounded with the character of Lemminkäinen when writing the Kalevala in the 19th century.Sometimes the name of Ahti is used of a god of the sea and of fishing, portrayed as a man with a handlebar moustache and beard of moss. He is the consort of Vellamo, and they dwell in the undersea palace of Ahtola. He probably possesses some fragments of Sampo, which was broken and then lost at sea after a battle. Also Vetehinen and Iku-Turso live underwater with Ahti.
Ukko, or Äijä or Äijö (Finnish: male grandparent, old man), parallel in Estonian mythology to Uku, is the god of the sky, weather, harvest and thunder in Finnish mythology. Ukko is held the most significant god of Finnish mythology. In the folk poems and prayers he is also given the epithet Ylijumala (English: Overgod), probably in reference to his status as the most highly regarded god and on the other hand his traditional domain in the heavens.
Finnish mythology´s Gods (few of them)
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