Stories from the Finnish Epic: The Kalevala
Chapter 4 - The Wicked Work Of Iron) as told by Mary Gavan.
as told at the Seattle Storytellers Guild Epic Event
at the Nordic Heritage Museum on March 25th, 2017.
(Click to listen: 14.5 Minutes)
Mary Gavan specialises in telling quirky and engaging stories from historical and Celtic tales;
from Vancouver, BC and beyond, she performs at the drop of an invitation. Find out more at www.marygavanyarns.com
(Part of Runos VIII & IX)
As Väinämöinen is speeding along on his journey, he hears something curious above his head and against the advice of Louhi he looks up and sees an enormous rainbow with a beauteous maiden at the end of it. He invites her to come to his sledge and be his wife. She acts coy and tells him she will come with him if he succeeds in numerous challenges the final and greatest being the creation and launching of a boat without touching or interfering with it. He works hard on the creation of the boat, for three days, on the third day Hiisi turns his axe head to Väinämöinen's knee and cleaves a mighty wound into the old wizards knee.
Väinämöinen tries in vain to quell the bleeding, he rides hard along the road to find someone who can close his wound and stop his blood flowing, however nobody is capable, until he finds an old man in a small dwelling who says he is capable.
The old man greets Väinämöinen and asks him, in amazement of the enormous loss of blood, who he is. He informs Väinämöinen that he can heal him, but he cannot quite remember the origin of iron, if he knew then the wound could be closed and the flow of blood stopped.
Väinämöinen proceeds to tell of the origin of Iron, of the great daughters of creation and the breast milk spilled over the land which created streams of iron throughout the world. He tells of fire and fire's desire to consume iron and of the birth of the ancient smith Ilmarinen. Ilmarinen comforts the iron telling it that it will become beautiful when combined with fire. Väinämöinen tells of Ilmarinen's struggle to find the tempering agent and of the evil Hiisi's poisoning of the iron with venoms and acids causing the iron to grow bitter and evil, and to shout to its relatives to cut and slice flesh and blood in revenge of this poisoning.
Now the old man knew the origin of iron he could help Väinämöinen. He directs his young son to make an ointment to salve the wound. The boy gathers oak branches, grasses and herbs and boils the ointment for many days. After the ointment is prepared he tests it on an aspen tree and broken stones and then returns to the old man.
The old man applies the ointment to Väinämöinen who struggles and thrashes in suffering, but the old man banishes the pain to the pain hill, he applies silken bandages to the wound. The old man informs Väinämöinen that it is the creator not himself doing the healing. Väinämöinen returns home and sings up a golden pine tree with a shining moon ant the stars of the Great Bear in its branches.
© 2017 - Barry McWilliams and Seattle Storytellers Guild