The Birth of Wainamoinen, demigod of Finland

Väinämöinen, a Finnish god or demigod, the first known reference is in the 16th century. He is often known as the god of chants, songs, and poetry.

John Martin Crawford translated the epic 50 ballad story of his life into English and spelled his name as Wainamoinen.  Tolkien, who loved Finnish, probably used him as part of his source material for Gandalf, and perhaps the Ents.

Wainamoinen was born an old man.  This is possibly because his beautiful mother Ilimatar, daughter of the Sky, labored for seven hundred years.

She came down to the ocean for a change from her dwelling pace of the ether or air.  The East wind brought up a storm, and thus was Wainamoinen conceived, a union between the wind and the daughter of the sky.  By the time the storm ended, Ilimatar was heavy with child and sunk below the surface of the water and thereupon swam for seven hundred years while in labour with him, because she could not rise to the surface of the ocean.  There was no land for her to rest upon even if she could.

She finally called out for help from the Sky and a heartrendingly lovely duck flew down and began looking for a place to rest. Ilimatar felt pity for the duck (a duck?), and she raised her knees up out of the water.  The duck landed and immediately went work making a nest and laying several eggs- six golden, one of iron. The eggs began to grow hotter and hotter and finally Ilimatar could stand the burning no longer and she shook her knees.  The eggs fell into the ocean and broke, but the halves grew and grew and formed the dome of the sky, with the upper half of an egg,  from the lower half of an egg formed the ‘nether vault of Terra.’ The yolk became the sun, the white of the eggs became the moon, the bits of shell became stars. After another seven years, Ilimatar began creating islands and mountains, lakes and rivers, dry land, and more, and finally, her son fights his way out of her womb is born fully grown, an old man, rich in wisdom, a hero, a fighter, a singer of songs.

 

(the prose story of his birth here). The English poetry translation here.

 

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