Sun and The Moon and The Farming Spirits

Niina Pekantytär

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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 the 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 the Finnish word päivä meaning day. Kuutar is connected to the west, evenings and autumn. Her name is derived from the 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.

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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. 

The name of Vironkannos comes from the 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 of Scandinavian origin and refer to a little man. In the ancient stories, Pikki was the spirit of the kaski the burn clearing. Since Finland has always been a very forestry country the first farming fields were made by burning woods.

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Sämpsä Pellervoinen

Sämpsä or Sämpsä Pellervoinen was another farming spirit. He had many roles. In some areas, he was the protector of trees and the 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 agree to help. He was invoked in the springtime festivals to bring fertility to the land. 

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Niina Niskanen

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 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

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Folklorist and historian. Alcott essayist. A host of the Little Women Podcast.

Finland, MN
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