Sampsa Pellervoinen

Posted On April 19, 2010

Filed under deities, Kalevala, poetry

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The recent shamanic drum circle that I went to had a theme of Sampsa Pellervoinen. Sampsa is mentioned in the Kalevala in Rune II as the tiny man that Väinämöinen tells to plant…well, pretty much the entire world. I think the actual lines from the Kalevala describe it better than I can:

Thought at last of Pellervoinen,
First-born of the plains and prairies,
When a slender boy, called Sampsa,
Who should sow the vacant island,
Who the forest seeds should scatter.
Pellervoinen, thus consenting,
Sows with diligence the island,
Seeds upon the lands he scatters,
Seeds in every swamp and lowland,
Forest seeds upon the loose earth,
On the firm soil sows the acorns,
Fir-trees sows he on the mountains,
Pine-trees also on the hill-tops,
Many shrubs in every valley,
Birches sows he in the marshes,
In the loose soil sows the alders,
In the lowlands sows the lindens,
In the moist earth sows the willow,
Mountain-ash in virgin places,
On the banks of streams the hawthorn,
Junipers in hilly regions;
This the work of Pellervoinen,
Slender Sampsa, in his childhood.

Even though not mentioned as a god in the Kalevala, he is viewed as the one who, dun dun duuun! Sows the seeds for the new season’s crops. While Pellonpekko watches over the fields, Sampsa is the one who actually plants them. Thus, he is the fertility god in the Finnish pantheon. According to Kati Koppana, in Ingria at Ukon juhla(Ukko’s Feast, done around midsummer), a poem was sung to Sampsa to make sure that good crops would grow during that season. It was said in the poem that Sampsa made love to his sister to bring fertility to the land. There is no written record of the name of his sister, but she likely was an old fertility goddess. In another poem on mainland Finland, he lies with the Earth Mother instead (Koppana 28). Something to think about doing for this coming midsummer would be to write your own poem to Sampsa and sing it to him and either his sister or mother. For this midsummer we will probably need all the help we can get, because this volcano that has been erupting could really do a number on the crops this season.

By the way, I recommend the book that I’ve referenced here. I found it on Google Books this morning(though I’ve heard the name before), and so far I’m liking what I see.

Works Cited

Koppana, Kati. Snake Fat and Knotted Threads: An Introduction to Finnish Healing Magic. Loughborough: Heart of Albion Press, 2003.

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