What is your favorite Finnish's myth/folk lore story ?
It’s a bit sad the original Finnish mythologies and folklores aren’t written down anywhere except for the national epoch Kalevala. I have only small, general hint-like information of this deity or that spiritual creature in Finnish mythology. Add there the fact no one here believes in old spiritual creatures, we have no “don’t go there, there are spirits!”-places or “don’t do this, it upsets spirits”-thing here and here we go. Nothing is left from old traditions. Lehto ry does work for keeping the traditional Finnish religion alive. There are some pagans who follow traditional Finnish religion.
Here are some of my faves
Liekkiö (from liekki, flame) and Ihtiriekko were spirits of deceased children, often killed at birth. While Liekkiö was harmless, appearing often as a shape of flame, and mostly bothered traveling people with crying and whimpering, Ihtiriekko tried to point out their killer and get peace for their soul. Whether people believed in Liekkiö or Ihtiriekko, it depended of the area.
Hiidenhirvi (Hiisi Moose) was a big moose, which bothered people and caused havoc. It was from Hiitola, which in some cases means the land of dead. In one story forest spirits Hiisis created Hiidenhirvi from natural materials. Hiisi was another annoying spirit, evil one, and you wanted to avoid it. If Hiisi caught you in the forest, it took you to its home Hiitola, where you served as Hiisi family’s slave till you died. Vesihiisi (Water Hiisi) was a special type of Hiisi living in lakes and bonds.
Vetehinen (roughly translated as Waterly) was evil male water spirit, kind of like a merman. Like all evil spirits, it was the best to avoid Vetehinen. It was possible, however, to bribe Vetehinen to help you. A story goes how Vetehinen tried to turn over fisherman’s small boat (because Vetehinen is a little shit) but the fisherman cut Vetehinen’s arm off with his sword and it fell in the boat. Defeated, Vetehinen asked to get his arm back but the fisherman said he’d return the arm only if Vetehinen helped him to get some fish. Muttering and utterly pissed off, Vetehinen had no other option than help the man. The man got a boat full of fish hunted down with the help of Vetehinen, and Vetehinen himself got his arm back.
Vetehinen’s female counterpart is Näkki. While Vetehinen lived in lakes and bonds, Näkki lived in all type of waters (for what I know). Kids were warned not to go near water because Näkki can take them and drown them. This phrase is still used here; even I got told as a kid not to go alone near water because Näkki can catch me. Nowadays it serves more as a thing to scare kids so that they don’t accidentally drown themselves than a real belief of Näkki. It’s same as the phrase we use for kids who are naughty, that “If you don’t behave, Mörökölli comes and kidnaps you”. Mörökölli is considered a furry, goblin like creature.
By the way, we call seashells as Näkinkenkä, Näkki’s shoes.
Ancient Greece had Cerberus guarding the pathway to land of death; we’ve got a giant snake with multiple heads. There runs a river between the living and death near the entrance of the land of death (Manala or Tuoni), called Tuonen virta (River of Death). In Tuonen virta swims gracefully a white Tuonen joutsen, a Swan of Death.
Ajattara was a beautiful female spirit who made men get lost in the forest and then killed them. We have got a band here in Finland named Ajattara and they write and sing their songs in ancient Finnish spell casting form. FInland was definitely the land of spell casting and the spells were always sung.
We also have got a badass female deity, Louhi. Louhi ruled the land of Pohjola (Northland, as north was considered the direction of evil) and acts as the antagonist in our national epoch Kalevala. Louhi was an old witch with a great army and she basically ruled all the lands and the men there. She had multiple beautiful daughters and also a husband, who got killed later in her front yard. Louhi is capable of changing her appearance and summon forth men for a fight. She’s very powerful at spell casting.
Sami people up North in Lapland are better in this folklore stuff and they still have holy places which can’t be disturbed. From Sami folklore I love the belief that dead people can be summoned back to Earth in forms of bears and wolves. The latest incident, where a shaman was asked to deliver these “Lifted” (Nostettu) spirits, who caused damages in a form of wandering wolves, was held in Lapland in 1921. The shaman had been angry about it, saying that “Nowadays anyone can lift spirits, but then they have no idea how to send them back”.
EDIT: Oh and I forgot! Kola Samish people believe they are descendants of a Deerman, who was half-deer, half-man (deertaur basically). A human woman, who slept with the Deerman, gave birth to Kola Samish people from this union. The folklore tells that Deerman’s mother was a powerful witch, who could take a form of a deer. Kola Samish people have also folklores of raven and seal, who both marry a human woman. Where the Deerman taught the humanity how to hunt and thus represented forest, Raven was the symbol of air and Seal the symbol of water.