Stories from the Finnish Epic: The Kalevala
Chapter 16 - The Last Adventure
as told at the Seattle Storytellers Guild Epic Event
at the Nordic Heritage Museum on March 25th, 2017.
as told by Patricia Smith and Abegael Fisher-Lang.
(Click to listen: 23 Minutes)
Patricia Smith is a Vancouver, BC storyteller, a veteran of their famous epic weekends,
has a special love for language and all things Kalevala.
Abegael Fisher-Lang, a longtime Epic Tale-teller, especially loves the Kalevala,
with gratitude to the folks of Seattle,the Land of Heroes for this day. Hei hei!More at www.mythopoetica.ca
((Runo XLV–L, including Runo 1 about the creation of the world at the end)
Louhi, growing angry at the prosperity of Kalevala calls to Loviatar (one of Tuoni's daughters) to bring the people of Kalevala disease and pestilence. Loviatar births her children of disease and tends to them:
Louhi sends the children of Loviatar to Kalevala causing the people to fall sick. Väinämöinen comes to his peoples aid, he fires up healing saunas, sends prayers and magic words to Ukko to deliver his people from peril and he uses healing balms on his ill people. Väinämöinen then calls to Ukko to send a healing balm by rain and successfully saves his people from destruction.
Louhi on hearing the eradication of the disease sends the great bear Otso to destroy the cattle and people of Kalevala.
Väinämöinen instructs Ilmarinen to build him a spear to kill the bear with and upon his return a feast is held in the halls of Kalevala. Väinämöinen tells of the origin of the bear and sings songs wishing for peace and prosperity for his people.
Väinämöinen's singing brings the Sun and Moon to the earth in joy, however Louhi steals them away and conceals them in Pohjola, she then steals the fire from the homes of Kalevala.
Ukko, confused as to the lack of sun and moon, strikes up a new fire, conceals it in a golden purse and tasks a maiden of the air to nurture it, however she fails and the new fire falls to the earth and is spotted by Väinämöinen, who hunts for it and learns that the fire was finally swallowed by a fish in Lake Alue. Väinämöinen lay nets for the Fire-fish to no avail.
Väinämöinen prepares a flaxen net to catch the fire-fish, but does not succeed so Väinämöinen calls for assistance. A man of very small stature rises from the water and offers his help to drive the fire-fish to the nets, which Väinämöinen happily accepts. Väinämöinen draws his net in and discovers among the many fish have been caught, there is the Fire-fish. Väinämöinen dares not touch the Fire-fish and wonders how he will recover the fire until Panu (The son of the Sun) hears and tells Väinämöinen he will open up the fish, he calls to the heavens for a magical fish knife which he is supplied with.
Panu cuts into the pike and finds the fire, Väinämöinen wonders how to return it to Kalevala. Suddenly the fire grows angry and flies over the lake burning Väinämöinen and Ilmarinen during its escape. Väinämöinen captured the fire and places it in a tinder-box and returns it to his people.
Even though the fire had been restored to Kalevala the animals start to die and the people grow weak because of the lack of sun and moon. Ilmarinen forges a false sun and moon, but when they are mounted up high in trees, they fail to shine.
Väinämöinen cuts sticks from an alder tree to divine the location of the sun and moon, his divination tells him they are locked away in the mountains of Pohjola. Väinämöinen sets off to recover them, he gets within sight of the gates of Pohjola and calls for a boat to carry him across the river, but nobody hears him, so he makes a brushwood fire and lets the smoke drift into the heavens. Louhi sends a messenger to bring her news of the origin of the smoke. The messenger is asked by Väinämöinen to bring him a boat but the messenger tells him to swim across the river himself. At this Väinämöinen turns himself into a pike and swims over the river.
Väinämöinen makes his way to the halls of Pohjola and is met by armed men who ask him his intentions, he tells them that he is here to recover the sun and moon. The men of Pohjola and Väinämöinen engage in combat and Väinämöinen is victorious, lopping the heads off of the men like turnip roots.
Väinämöinen runs toward the mountain prison of the sun and moon and finds an enormous stone atop a rock with the light of the sun shining out of it. He cleaves the stone in three and discovers serpents drinking ale, he kills them but when he tries to free the sun and moon he finds his magic lacking, so he returns home and asks Ilmarinen to make spears, axes and keys. Meanwhile, Louhi takes the form of an eagle and talks to Ilmarinen, he tells the eagle he is making implements to imprison Louhi and render her in iron bondage for eternity. Louhi grows fearful and flies back to Pohjola. She unlocks the sun and moon and releases them to the sky. Louhi then takes the form of a dove and returns to Kalevala to speak with Ilmarinen again. The Louhi-dove tells Ilmarinen that the sun and moon are now free, Ilmarinen goes to investigate and he sees that it is indeed true, he tells Väinämöinen.
Väinämöinen is joyful at the sight of the sun and moon and pleads with them to stay where they are and continue to illuminate and nourish his people for eternity. Now, more than ever before, is a time for joy and singing, so Väinämöinen sings of the creation of the world…
Väinämöinen knows he cannot sing forever nor can he remain forever in one place, so he sings up a magic boat and sails away from Kalevala… leaving his wisdom, magic, songs and sacred kantele as a gift to his noble people.
© 2017 - Barry McWilliams and Seattle Storytellers Guild