I’ve been meaning to make a post about this, but I keep forgetting. I have decided to no longer update this blog. I don’t have access to scholarly books and I don’t have any opportunities to go to events anymore, so I’ve essentially run out of things to say. I meant for this to be an informative blog rather than talk about my spiritual journey, and if I continued, it would turn more into the latter, which I don’t want.
Thank you to those who have read throughout the years. I hope I was of help to people who wanted to find out more about Suomenusko. For those of you stumbling across this blog for the first time, I recommend checking out my entries from 2-3 years ago, because I wrote a lot of essays about the religion and experiences going to related events in Finland. Also, at the bottom of the page, I have a list of links to blogs I know related to Finland and Suomenusko, so you can check those out.
Currently I’m tackling the Kalevala in Japanese. I’ve already read the Eddas in Japanese, which was difficult, but fun to read at the same time. I looked in the mythology section of the bookstore, but I didn’t find the Kalevala, so I picked up the Eddas instead. Then a few months ago, I decided to check out Finnish language books here, and that was where the Kalevala was! The book is “Kalevala no Uta” カレワラの歌 and it’s translated by Tamotsu Koizumi. There are two small volumes of it: one contains the tale of the birth of Väinämöinen and the Sampo, and the other volume is the story of Lemminkäinen and of Kullervo. I’m reading the former. The reason why it was in the language section is because next to the Japanese, there is the Finnish version and at the bottom there are footnotes explaining what all of the words in Finnish mean in Japanese. I’m not really sure how you can learn a language in that manner, but if it works for some, then okay.
The Japanese section doesn’t keep Kalevala meter. I think Japanese has too many syllables to successfully pull that off. It does have an interesting flow though, and it’s fun to read it out loud. If you are proficient in a second language, I encourage you to check out a version of the Kalevala in that language. It’s an interesting read to see how everything is translated and how the language flows.
Kekri is coming up on November 1st. I was supposed to celebrate it today with a friend, but he got called into work, and I’m not feeling all too well anyway. This year is a bit unfortunate for me, because I can’t make any of the traditional recipes. Why you may ask? Because nobody in Japan owns ovens! I asked many people, but not one person told me that they own one. Just toaster ovens, but that’s not much help.
For those of you who live in countries where people actually own ovens, I will share some of my favorite recipes for you to try. The first one is made on Christmas Eve now, but in the past it was on Kekri (in other words, before Christianity came). It is one of the dishes known as “laatikko”, which means a box. They call it that because it is cooked in a box; a casserole dish. The first I will share is lanttulaatikko, which is rutabaga. Here are the ingredients you will need:
3 TBS butter
1/2 to 3/4 cups of cream (depending on how much you are comfortable with having fatty food)
1/2 to 3/4 cups of breadcrumbs (it should match up with the cream amount)
1/2 tsp of nutmeg
1 tsp of salt
2 eggs beaten
First you put the rutabagas in a pot, bring to a boil and then simmer until they are soft (about 20 minutes). After that, you drain and mash them. You then in a separate bowl combine the cream and breadcrumbs together, and then add all of the rest; the rutabagas being last. Put it all in a casserole dish and bake it for about 40-45 minutes, until it is brown on top.
There is another one of these that uses carrots, called porkkanalaatikko (“porkkana” meaning “carrot”), but it’s a little bit different to make. You can search for that on your own.
The next recipe I will share on here is one that everyone who has been to Finland has probably eaten (and if you haven’t, then whoever showed you around was a bad host). It’s called karjalanpiirakka, or Karelian pies. They are kind of difficult to make (at least in my experience), but it’s worth the time and effort if you live somewhere where you can’t get them! There is a filling, crust, and egg butter. This recipe can be vegan if you leave out the egg butter and use soy milk and vegan butter. I made it once like that when I brought some to an event with some vegans.
2 cups water
1 cup uncooked rice (it should be short grain rice)
2 cups milk (I’ve also seen recipes where they put in a lot more milk than this, but mine always took forever to absorb it, so perhaps take it little by little if you decide to add more)
You can vary this if you want more, just keep the ratio the same.
1/2 cup of water
1 tsp salt
1 cup rye flour
1 cup regular all-purpose flour
Egg butter (This is really fatty, so it’s optional if you’re worried about fat):
4 eggs (hard boiled and split apart)
2 TBS butter
If you like, you can add a little salt, but I don’t think it’s needed
For the filling, combine the water and rice, bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes (basically cook rice how you normally would). Then add the milk and leave it cooking until it’s absorbed.
For the crust, put water, salt, and both flours into a bowl to make the dough. Make many small balls and flatten them very thin into oval shapes. The oval shape should be about 4 by 5 inches.
Then you preheat the oven to 450F. While you’re waiting, take the rice mixture that should have absorbed the milk and put it in the middle of the oval-shaped thin dough. Don’t cover the entire oval. Take the sides of the oval and fold it over just the edges of the rice mixture and pinch it. Here’s a picture so you know what I mean
Melt some butter and glaze it over the top of it. Then put all of them onto a greased pan, put it in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes (however long your oven typically takes).
The egg butter is really simple, just mash the eggs and butter together, and you can then spread it on top of the finished pastries. And your hard work is all done!
I hope you enjoy the recipes and have a nice Kekri!
In many religions, a lot of people become fixated on the so-called end of the world. In particular, people have been doing so this year with the 2012 prophecy. I’ve mentioned before on here that I enjoy how Finnish mythology does not have any place of torture where bad people go after death. While it is important to try to be a good person in life, worrying about some supposed place in the afterlife that you may go to, keeps your focus away from what’s around you. It’s the same thing with the end of the world stories. Finnish mythology does not have these kinds of stories. In fact, the Kalevala ends on a very positive note. If you have not read it; a young virgin maiden becomes pregnant after eating a lingonberry and gives birth to a son who casts Väinämöinen out of the land, and becomes the ruler instead. This being a reference to Christianity coming to Finland and the old ways removed from the land. However, the very end of the runo gives a hopeful message. Even though Väinämöinen is cast out of the land, he leaves his kantele for the people of Finland to enjoy, and mentions that he will be back when people need him again. From runo 50 in the version on Sacred Texts by John Martin Crawford:
Suns may rise and set in Suomi,
Rise and set for generations,
When the North will learn my teachings,
Will recall my wisdom-sayings,
Hungry for the true religion.
Then will Suomi need my coming,
Watch for me at dawn of morning,
That I may bring back the Sampo,
Bring anew the harp of joyance,
Bring again the golden moonlight,
Bring again the silver sunshine,
Peace and plenty to the Northland.
So, instead of waiting for an end of the world, we can wait for a new hope. We can wait for the old ways to be restored and for peace to come to the land; not some big battle or destruction.
I thought I’d make an entry explaining a bit about why I use the terms I do. There is a glossary of course, but some terms and grammar patterns may not be clear to people. I chose to use “Suomenusko” instead of Finnish paganism, because I noticed that people that follow reconstructed religions in general do not enjoy the term “pagan” much. I don’t like using the word much either, and I feel that it is more fitting to use a Finnish word. On the front page of this blog, it does say “Learning about Finnish Paganism”, but that is because someone who knows nothing about the Finnish word yet will not understand what the blog is about when they first click on it.
Then there are the words I use for people that are involved in Suomenusko. The singular of someone who practices Suomenusko, is in Finnish, “Suomenuskoinen”. If you want to talk about more than one person who practices the religion, then that is “Suomenuskoiset”. There is no need to add an “s” at the end, because “t” designates that a word is plural in Finnish. It would sound really strange if you said, “Suomenuskoinens” or “Suomenuskoisets”. I always got a kick out of people in the Asatru community who would write “Asatruars”, when “Asatruar” as it is already means plural. So remember: if you use “s” you will sound super silly to Finnish speakers (yay alliteration!).
One more thing that I have debated about doing on here is whether to capitalize the name of the religion and names of the holidays. In Finnish, you would not capitalize any of that. You may notice that on some entries I wrote Suomenusko in capital letters and other times in lower case letters. That was because I couldn’t make up my mind about what I should do. I’ve officially decided now that I will capitalize that and the names of the holidays, since that is naturally done in English and it doesn’t change the word or make it sound silly as in the above example with the plural.
If there’s any terms that you’re not clear on, then feel free to ask me.
Tomorrow (July 13th) is one of the major holidays of the year: Karhunpäivä. It’s nice to be celebrating another holiday so soon. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to collect flowers due to work, so I may have to take the shameful route and buy flowers. Still, what can you do? It’s still taking an effort at least, by picking out the flowers and paying for them out of my own pocket. Last year didn’t really take on the patterns of nature that are supposed to happen. After Karhunpäivä, it is supposed to be the hottest point of the year, but last year definitely wasn’t. In Japan, however, summer has still not started yet; it is still the rainy season. Summer is supposed to start next week, so it will be timely this year.
Last year’s entry contains the song and ritual for the holiday, so check back at that entry if you want to celebrate it yourself.
I’m looking forward to the upcoming holiday, Ukon juhla, otherwise known as Juhannus since Christianity barged in, or Midsummer. It is the day when night is the shortest, and this year it falls on the 23rd of this month according to my calendar. It is important to give offerings to Ukko and Päivätär on this day, and light a sacred fire. I would also add Kuu into the mix, since we will be seeing more of her as the days go on. In Finland, there will be bonfires, normally by the lakes where people have their summer cottages. If you’re not in a place where a bonfire can be lit (such as living in the middle of a city), then you can symbolize that fire in your own home with a candle. Some suitable offerings to give to the gods are those found in nature. Some examples being flowers and small branches (such as from a juniper tree). I normally make a nice bouquet of flowers. There is an old ritual that many women still do (sorry guys), which is collecting 9 different types of flowers and putting them under your pillow while you sleep at night. It is said that in your dreams, you will see your future husband (or maybe wife?). I’ve never done this before, but I’m very curious about it, so I will do it. I will make an update if I see anything interesting! In general, Ukon juhla is seen as a good time to do rituals, because of the spiritual energy surrounding the day.
And another update, because I just noticed that the online magazine Odroerir has a new issue up, which contains an article on Finnish paganism that one of my friends wrote. It’s going to be a two-part article. I read it just now, and it’s quite good. It goes over all of the basics of the gods, spirits, and cosmology of old Finnish folk tradition. I got a bit nostalgic, because there’s two pictures up there which have friends of mine (and me) and one of a place where we did our Helajuhla ritual. Really wonderful places and energy.
A recent comment on here gave me some inspiration to talk about haltija in Japan, aka kami. I find a lot of similarities between Shinto and Suomenusko. The main part of it being that it’s very much tied to the forces of nature and respect of them. I guess that is true of most indigenous religions, but here I think it is a little different. Like Suomenusko, Shinto is mainly about honoring what is around you, rather than far-away gods. There are of course gods in Shinto, but the vast majority of kami are nature spirits. Shrines are placed in what you may call areas with a strong väki power, if we are going to use Finnish terms. Most people here go to shrines and don’t even know what the name of the being they are honoring is. It’s similar to how I felt while walking around in the forests in Finland and giving offerings to the spirits there. I didn’t know their names; I simply felt them. The main difference between the two I would say is the way that you honor these haltija. In Suomenusko, it’s a bit more spontaneous; you can honor in any way you see fit (such as what I do with playing kantele or leaving food offerings). In Shinto, it’s pretty structured: offering a coin, bowing twice, clapping the hands twice, saying a prayer, and then bowing again.
Another thing I find pretty similar is the way that Japanese people act about their religion. People don’t have a strict dogma with specific hours to go worship. That’s only done on special holidays throughout the year, but otherwise, people can go to the shrine whenever they feel like it. I felt like Finns were the same; making it into more of a living religion. I always hear about Finns and Japanese people being a lot alike, and I think this is quite right. Not just in religion, but in character traits such as respect of nature and silence is golden. There were a large number of people in Finland interested in Japan, and the same is true here. Perhaps that’s how I got my interest in Japan!
With all the rain that’s been happening lately, I’ve come to associate this time with Ukko. Typically he is honored at Helajuhla and of course Ukonjuhla, but the time that it becomes spring here is different from Finland. I sang a song to him on the equinox and gave an offering. I hate rain and thunder greatly, but I realize the necessity, especially since it will mean cherry blossoms! I’m particularly excited to see cherry blossoms here. I saw them in Washington DC before, but I know it will be much more special here, and you can see them all over Japan. They blossom first in Okinawa in March, and then it slowly goes up throughout Japan, with Hokkaido being the last to get them. The offering I gave was plum wine (which comes from the trees that blossom just before, so they are also associated with spring), but it seems to have been disappearing more quickly in the glass I gave to my ancestors rather than Ukko. I always leave the drink offerings out and let them disappear on their own.