March

From the Suomenusko FB page:

“There are several explanations regarding the origin of the Finnish word for March (“maaliskuu”). The most common one is that maaliskuu is derived from the word for ground, “maa”. In March the ground is revealed from under the snow, which is also mentioned in many proverbs, such as “March begins to show the ground”.

The second view is that the name comes from the word for target (“maali”). In March, when the hard supporting snow would allow people to move easily with skis, men would gather to some location to practice shooting with bows and arrows. Practice was essential because people depended on their hunting skills. In Northern Finland, wood for skis was cut down in the first or second quarter of March. Trees cut down around this time were said to stay straight even they dried. In Karelia, March was “mämmikuu”, after the Finnish delicacy, mämmi.

The birth of the new moon in March, or Marja’s moon, was considered as an important moment. Marja’s moon predicted the weather for the next three spring moons. If cold wind was blowing from the north when the moon was born, the next three moons would be cold, and spring would arrive slowly. If warm south wind was blowing, the spring would be early, beautiful and warm. This would mean that the livestock could come out from the winter shelter early and grain growing season would be long.

Greeting the new moon is an old tradition of the Finno-Ugric peoples. In Savo, Marja’s moon was in this way also associated with marriage luck. When a young man or woman first saw the new moon of March, they said: “I greet you March moon, I ask from you, show me my beloved, if I should have peace and happiness”. After that they turned their face away from the moon, went home and got sleep. In the dream they would see their life companion.

The weather in March was used to predict the weather for coming summer. Foggy weather in March means rain in the summer. If the fog lies low near the ground, the year will be frosty. Spring that arrived too early was met with skepticism, as in the folk worldview exceptional signs were usually a bad sign. Consequently, very warm March meant that May would be cold. March was jokingly said to be angry and eager to be cold, but the warmth of the sun melted the month’s icy feelings.

The breezing March wind was called “Tapio’s threshing”. People said that the forest spirit Tapio was treshing his grains when the spring wind cut branches, bark, and other things from the trees in the forest and carried them around. It was also said that “Tapio is sowing”, when the wind spread seeds and cones from the trees on the snow. This phenomenon was also called “pine wind” or “bark wind”. From this “sowing” people counted nine or seven weeks to the melting of all ice on lakes.”

Translation: Anssi A.

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Suomenusko in translation: Vappu

Vappu harnesses the foals to front of the swinging summer”. On Vappu, or Valpuri (May 1), the “little summer” is beginning and will last until mid-summer. Sowing could begin. There were only eight weeks to Juhannus, during which all the work on the spring fields had to be done.

In southern Finland Vappu was another day for letting the cattle out of the winter shelter in addition to Jyrki. The customs of the day ensured cattle would be safe, prosperous and give a lot of milk. Cattle luck was strengthened, among other things, by walking around the forest pasture while carrying protective objects and gently wiping the cows with a whisk made from the new fertile spring branches. In the morning shepherds played their alder and goat horns and gave cows their bells.

In Satakunta people used to ring the cowbells and shout: “Vappu come, Vappu come, come to the barn!” so that cattle would come home from the forest in the summer. In South Ostrobothnia women attached bells to their skirts and dressed up in bizarre clothes. Then they run across the village ringing the bells. Other villagers tried to stay hidden and surprise the runners by pouring water on them. This game was said to ensure there would be plenty of milk in the summer.

There were also other playful traditions associated with Vappu. On some regions people tried to pull pranks on each other. One person might be asked to bring some non-existing thing, such as “tail-pulling-wood”, from the neighbour. If the neighbour was in on the joke, he would tell the unsuspecting person to go and ask from the next house.

Horses were allowed to swim in the stream on Vappu, so that flies would not bother them in the summer. People also gained health and vitality by bathing in the icy water of creeks and rivers. It was said that “Vappu comes with a whisk under its arm” and at least in the Karelian Isthmus, where the spring arrives early, people could actually bath with new whisks on Vappu.

It was said that “the cuckoo sings on Vappu, at least in its nest inside the pine tree or in a uuttu”. Uuttu or uu was a birdhouse placed on a tree near the lake shore. Every house had its own uuttu. The nests were cleaned for the spring so they would be ready when the “uuttu birds”, such as goldeneyes and mergansers, migrated back from the south. When the birds begin their laying period, people took few eggs for food from the nest, but not all of them.

Translation: Anssi A.

Source: Suomenusko FB page

Suomenusko in translation – Markku’s Day

“Markku’s Day tomorrow is depicted with a cuckoo or a plough in the wooden rune calendars. In Southern Finland, ploughing could be started and singing cuckoo announced that summer had arrived. “Markku gives a tongue to the cuckoo and Valpuri (May 1) carries a sowing bushel to the fields”. Farther to the north, Erkki’s Day (May 18) had a similar meaning for people.

The night preceding Markku’s Day has been one of the most important occasions for forecasting the summer weather. People could even change their travel plans based on the weather conditions of this night. Cold weather and frost on Markku’s night predicted continued cold airs and frosts. “If Markku’s toes are freezing, there will be cold summer”. Other sayings state that cold weather would continue until the next lunar cycle.

The coldness of the night was measured with various ways. In southern Finland the night was not considered all that cold if an ox could break the cover of ice on its drinking water in the morning. If the ox failed to break the ice, the coming year would be cold and miserable.

If the night was warm, rainy or the wind blew from any other direction except the north, the summer would be warm and harvest abundant. In northern Savo people said that then one could safely sow even next to a spring.

Markku also predicted how much wild berries there would be. If the night was warm, the forests would give people plenty of berries, but if the wind blew from the north people said that “Markku eats the berries” or “Markku takes the berries away”.”

Translation: Anssi A.

Source: https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=759873020712600&substory_index=0&id=236901253009782

Suomenusko in translation: Jyri’s Day

“The grazing season – and the work season for shepherds – began after the summer nights in April, and continued until the winter nights in October. Jyri’s Day tomorrow is the traditional day for letting the cattle out of the winter shelter in eastern and southern Finland. On this day, the guardian spirits of cattle, as well as the forces of forest and thunder, were honoured in order to ensure protection and good luck for the cattle and the house. In some regions, Jyri’s Day also started the spring sowing, and in Satakunta, people ate a special meal to celebrate this occasion. Special “sowing breads” that had been baked around joulu were eaten as part of the celebration.

“Jyri’s Day was held in silence, so that the thunder would not damage crops or buildings in the summer and the livestock would be protected from predators. One was not allowed to work, ride a horse, or make loud noises of any kind, including slamming doors. Cattle were also guided to their forest pastures in silence, so that the forest would not become angry. On this day, people were not allowed even to cut a branch from a tree. If an animal died in the summer, the reason was that right customs had not been followed on Jyrki. If the day passed quietly, summer would be calm as well.

“Letting the cattle out was a long-awaited and solemn event. The cows were let out for a moment, even if the ground was still covered with snow and ice. The cattle were walked through the gate that was decorated and had protective symbols such as torches, rowan branches and iron objects attached to it. An ax could be hidden under the barn’s threshold. Livestock could be also protected with female spiritual power. The act of doing so was called “harakoiminen”. This was done by letting the cows and sheep walk pass the gate as a woman stood on top of the gate so that the animals walked between her legs.

“Guardian spirits of forest and cattle were given food offerings on Jyrki’s Day, so that the cattle would be protected in the summer when it grazed in the forest pasture. In South Savo, people ate a meal, and, before tasting anything, they placed part of every food to a special plate as an offering. Dishes such as pies, butter, milk, eggs and meat were taken to sacrificial trees in the hiisi, a sacred grove. The dishes could be carried in a birch bark pack that was left hung from a tree. People might also walk across the cattle while reciting spells and carrying a burning candle. The candle was later burned in the hiisi. There were also individual sacrificial trees to which people left offerings, such as money, when walking pass them with the cattle.

“Despite the silence associated with the day, it was also customary to “shout to the forest” to keep his beasts away during the grazing period. Around the Saimaa area the night before Jyri’s Day was called the “shouting night”. People walked in the forests at night and drove the wolves away with their shouts. For the same reason bonfires were burned and hills and shepherds played their horns. In some areas there was a particular custom called “jyrynajo”, “driving Jyri away”, which consisted of children wearing cowbells and running around the yard and nearby forests and making as much noise as possible.

“Curiously, on Jyri’s Day, as well as on Jakoaika after Kekri, people were not supposed to give away anything from the house, no goods nor animals, in order to keep the house prosperous. It was believed that whatever was given away on this day would not prosper in the coming year, but would decline instead. Consequently, if one had bought a cow, it was useless to come and ask for it on Jyri’s Day – giving the cow away would result in the death of all the house’s cattle. The same belief is known in Estonia, where not even fire to light one’s pipe was given to outsiders on this day.

“Because Jyri was an important sowing day, the amount of snow left on the field determined the progress of the harvest. Jyri also forecasted the weather for the remaining spring and for the summer. If Jyri’s Day is cold, the spring will continue to be cold and the house will lose every third grain from spike and one-third of the firewood. If the wind blows on this day, the summer will be windy. It was also said that if there was thunderstorm before Jyri’s Day, the summer would be cold and rainy.”

Translation: Anssi A.

Source: https://www.facebook.com/suomenusko/posts/758854487481120:0

Now let me be clear.

Since I’m a Walmart-bought mom’s-jean wearing entitled schmuck, according to the larger blogosphere. 🙂

I was not equating pot smoking with statutory rape and child molestation. They are different things, all three of which I disagree with on varying levels. The war on drugs has certainly been a waste of taxes, but it’s still the law of the land. And people should have some basic respect for the law, if we’re going to hold our society together. It always seems to be the last thing on people’s minds, maintaining civil order (or they’re determined to gleefully subvert it, but everyone has to play a role, I guess). But I don’t like pot smoking. The heavy drug use isn’t good for making paganism an ‘inviting place’ for people to go. Or, alternately, people just want to schmoke around people like them, which is fine–but don’t get tetchy if I say I’m not thrilled with it and thus want to avoid it. And is definitely more about people schmoking and less about any kind of spirituality these people purportedly are trying to pursue.

Do I have to go into why statutory rape and child molestation are wrong? No? Good. So let’s recap–recreational drug use and sexual contact with minors are separate but both bad things I’ve found rampant in the local pagan community, which I don’t like, which is why I avoid it. I will admit I’m surprised at how deeply I seemed to get under people’s skins on this one. Check your comfort zones, people. Life isn’t about making you comfortable. If someone says they want nothing to do with you because you’re not their kinda scene, chill.

Suomenusko – a basic outline of defining characteristics

Though I’ve mostly reposted things from the Suomenusko group on FB and posted translated prayers to Ukko, I’m going to be talking more directly about suomenusko in the coming days. Why? Because Finnish is difficult and I want to. Not interested in syncretic Finnish folk religion that has a hefty influence of Christianity in it? Feel free to exit stage left, pursued by a bear, in the words of the inimitable Shakespeare.

Why do I practice a form of folk religion that has Christian generously comingled in? A couple of reasons. First, I was raised a Christian. Many of my ancestors were Christian. I live in a society which is, by and large, Christian at its foundations. This is a part of my heritage and cultural identity I think it’s kind of dumb to turn my back on. Second, the sources for Finnish folk traditions, historically, do not exist before Christianity did in Finland. The earliest sources we have are from a bishop named Mikael Agricola in the 1500’s writing down a list of Finnish pagan gods. Also, Finland is rare in that many of its folk traditions never ceased to be practiced. People were celebrating Ukonjuhla (the midsummer feast to Ukko) well into the 19th century. Arguably, Finnish folk religion never died. It lived on in a more robust form than many countries’ folk religions did, and merged with Christianity into a new faith. This is why you find spells and prayers to the Virgin Mary as well as prayers to Vainamoinen and Ukko.

What are the defining factors of suomenusko? Here I will refer to this helpful paper from Taivaannaula:

1. Belief in spirits that reside in nature (including those of animals).

2. The concept of ancestor spirits living in the afterlife, instead of heaven or hell.

3. The survival of Balto-Finnic myths and spells as a living oral tradition.

4. A way of life closely connected to nature based almost entirely on self-sufficient agriculture or
hunting and fishing.

I have concluded that the aforementioned factors, which can be viewed independently of Christian
theology and liturgy, can be considered the defining features of traditional Finnish folk religion. It is my
contention that the Finnish folk faith offers a unique and holistic worldview which can be understood
for the most part without reference to Christian theological concepts. My main sources of information
for this are the Finnish Folklore Archive and, of course, the works of leading Finnish scholars in this
field.

 

I will be discussing the basic concepts behind suomenusko, as well as holidays, worldview, and informational resources for an English speaker (because most suomenuskoiset are Finnish, which means they post and read things in Finnish, and have access to the SKVR, which is yet to be translated into English, and it can be tough to navigate if English is your only language).

Now, do you have to be of Finnish descent to engage in suomenusko? No, I don’t think so. It’s part of why I am attracted (my grandfather is Finnish), but hell, worship what you’re called to worship.

 

I’m apparently developing powers of clairvoyance, because I was unaware of this, but not terribly surprised.

Apparently there’s been a big hullaballoo over Florida Pagan Gathering, the big gathering in my state, over the festival hosting a workshop from authors who advocate sex with minors.

On the bright side, everyone protested enough to have these people dropped from the list of workshop presenters.

On the sad side, this is still a problem in 2014. And the only thing that got the gathering to drop these people was that someone anonymously contacted the campground owners.

See why I’m a recluse? Rotten sheisty pagans.