3 Lemminkäinen


Lemminkäinen

Lemminkäinen or Lemminki is a prominent figure in Finnish mythology. He is depicted as young and good looking, with wavy yellow hair. He is one of the Heroes of the Kalevala.

Lemminkäinen holds the magical sampo. He is associated with water; in one myth he drowns in the river of Tuonela (the underworld) in trying to capture or kill the black swan that lives there as part of an attempt, as Ilmarinen once made, to win a daughter of Louhi as his wife.

In a tale somewhat reminiscent of Isis' search for Osiris, Lemminkäinen's mother searches heaven and earth to find her son. Finally, she learns of his fate and asks Ilmarinen to fashion her a rake of copper with which to dredge her son's body from the river of Tuonela. Thus equipped, she descends into the underworld in search of her son. On the banks of the river of the underworld, she rakes up first Lemminkäinen's tunic and shoes, and then, his maimed and broken body. Unrelenting, she continues her work until every piece of Lemminkäinen's body is recovered. Sewing the parts together and offering prayers to the gods, the mother tries to restore Lemminkäinen to life, but succeeds only in remaking his body, life is still absent. Then, she entreats a bee to ascend to the halls of the over-god Ukko and fetch from there a drop of honey as ointment that would bring Lemminkäinen back to life. Only with such a potent remedy is the hero finally restored.

Lemminkäinen is the subject of a four part suite by the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius.

He is also called Kaukomieli. Some sources say that he and Ahti are the same deity. Lemminkäinen and the Scandinavian Balder have many things in common in their respective legends (for example both are killed by a blind man at the feast of gods or heroes) which has led some researchers to believe they share common origin.

Finnish pagan Ior Bock claims to be a direct descendant of Lemminkäinen. According to Bock, there is an underground temple dedicated to Lemminkäinen at Sipoo in Finland. Bock claims that the temple was closed and its entrance hidden in the year 987 due to the introduction of Christianity in the surrounding lands.


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