We’re joined this week by Finnish podcaster, Elena, who shares the story of Kalevala - an epic tale of magic, trickery, heroes, and just… a lot of failed marriages. We talk about the ultimate Finnish Fanfiction, singing as magic, the Devil’s Zoo, magical saunas, and how sometimes you have to take one for the team if it means world peace.
We have the full cast of characters for this episode, plus music and art that Elena recommends, on our Patreon!
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Amanda: Welcome to Spirits Podcast: A boozy dive into mythology, legends, and folklore. Every week we pour a drink and learn about a new story from around the world. I am Amanda.
Julia: And I'm Julia.
Amanda: This is episode 77, Kalevala with Elena Varg. Now this episode is over an hour long, you read that correctly, but I promise it is super duper worth it.
Julia: It is like someone sat down and told us hey I'm going to tell you the entire Odyssey, over drinks.
Amanda: In my mind it's as if we watched two Thor movies, only we're learning about finished mythology instead.
Julia: That's about right.
Amanda: It is the dopest and in fact there are so many incredible characters in this story that on our Patreon we made a public post so everybody can read it where we listed all of the characters and Elena's very funny pivy summaries about each of them as well as there are some music, there's some traditional finished music like songs about these stories, and then fine art like links to paintings of them. That's at Patreon.com/SpiritsPodcast and in the description of this episode.
Julia: Also, pictures of her cat who is adorable.
Amanda: I know it's just we are so enriched and #blessed by everything that Elena has to offer.
Julia: Ah thank you Elena.
Amanda: You know who else is #blessed?
Julia: Would that be our new Patrons?
Amanda: Yes! Alex, Dillon, Michelle, Hamila, Sophie, Natanya, Velma, Nika, Mizu, and Lassas.
Julia: You can dance whenever you want to and no one can tell you otherwise.
Amanda: And you know what I think that more people who never show up like bedraggled and what to meet their future spouses that would be our supporting producer level patrons. Neil, Philip, Julie, Christina, Josh, Eeyore, Jessica, Maria, Cami, Ryan, Phil Fresh, and Debra.
Julia: And thanks always to the bards of our hearts.
Amanda: Our level legend patrons. Mercedes, Ashley, Buggie, Rachel, Sandra, Ashley Marie, Leigh-Ann, and Cassi, Mizu, Lassas, and Jeanice. Jules tell me what we're drinking this episode.
Julia: So for this episode Elena actually recommended we do a drink combo that featured cranberry and birch.
Amanda: Both of which are Finland things.
Julia: Yes and a Finlandian vodka. So what I did was I crafted a cocktail with cranberry juice, birch beer, which is like one of my favorite things and I only get at this one pizzeria usually in Connecticut.
Amanda: It's a very good taste and of course the Finlandian vodka. It was absolutely delicious, you think cranberry and associate it with the fall, but it's a really like refreshing and tart taste that I think is super summery and really, honestly, appropriate in any weather.
Julia: That's why a Cosmo is definitely a summer drink.
Amanda: Yeah, that's true.
Julia: More vodka, hint of cranberry.
Amanda: Just enough to make it pink.
Julia: Little bit of lime.
Julia: Lime brightens it up.
Amanda: I know, a Cosmo is a mommy's little helper.
Julia: Yes it is, it's also a Julia's little helper.
Amanda: It's anyone wants to get through the day, regardless of gender. Just a little helper. We are sponsored this week by RXBar which we love. We know that you love them too and if you to go RXBar.com/Spirits you can use the code Spirits for 25% off your first order. There's actually some very cool new offers and flavors on hand so we'll tell you more about that later.
Julia: Also, one last thing before we get into the episode. Hit us up on Patreon! We're very close to our Patreon goal and we would love to go to Akron, Ohio now that it is summer time and go to a spaghetti warehouse.
Amanda: This is also a part-time job for us and your support lets us pay our bills and it lets us keep this show going weekly. We love doing it and the only way we can do that is to make room in our schedules because capitalism, time is money, and your support every single month means that we can keep our lights on, keep our air conditioners going full blast ...
Julia: Pay our rent...
Amanda: Anyways, so thank you very very much to the several hundred of you who support us there and if you've been thinking about it, now is a great time to support independent content that you love.
Julia: Even for one dollar. Just one dollar!
Amanda: One Dollar! So much stuff to enjoy. Alright, without further ado enjoy Spirits Podcast episode 77, Kalevala with Elena Varg.
Julia: So, listeners, this week we are joined by a very special guest, Elena, who is part of a up and coming podcast production company called OTO Productions. She is going to be teaching us something I don't know a lot about, which is always a fun experience for me and Amanda's experience every week.
Amanda: It's true.
Julia: So, Elena. Thank you so much for joining us and why don't you start by introducing yourself and what we're going to be talking about this week.
Elena: Thank you guys for letting me join you! So, I'm like ... well, my name is Elena Varg. I am from Finland ... from the northern part of the world. I'm very interested in the Finnish culture and more specifically, Finnish mythology. I am like ... I'm not an expert but I am an amateur expert on all things Finnish and magical.
Julia: Welcome to Spirits. We're all amateur experts here.
Amanda: Love it.
Amanda: I love it so much.
Elena: That's why I wanted to, like, contact you on this subject because some while ago you guys were talking about Tolkien and the world of Tolkien, and it was very interesting and I loved the episode. But there was one thing that really stuck my ear when you were talking about Túrin Turambar, and really where the character came from. That is why I wanted to contact you to offer my specialities in the world of Kalevala.
Amanda: That's awesome.
Elena: Yeah. Kalevala, for those who don't know, is the Finnish epic. The Greeks have The Odyssey and then there is Beowulf. But we Finns, we have Kalevala.
Amanda: That's great. I love me some Odyssey. I love me some Trojan war, Iliad kind of stuff. So, I'm psyched for any kind of epic.
Julia: Tell us all about it.
Elena: First a little bit about the writer or should I say the collector, Elias Lönnrot, was a Finnish physician and philologist, which means, like, a person who studies languages and oral texts and written texts, of course. Although he was a doctor, he was very, very interested in the Finnish oral tradition. The Finnish oral tradition is, like, well ... oral. So, before Lönnrot, no one ever had written it down.
Elena: He set off for several, long poem collecting journeys through the Karelian. The Karelian area in Finland is nowadays mostly part of Russia. But in this part of Finland there is a very, very strong tradition of singing poems and telling stories that way.
Amanda: That's so cool.
Julia: I love that.
Elena: So, Lönnrot goes to Karelian and he writes down hundreds and hundreds of poems from different singers all around that area. What he does ... he is the co-founder of the Finnish literature society. Through that society, he begins to put those poems in a single narrative story. The fun thing about Finnish mythology is that every part of Finland, although we are a very small country, every part of Finland has a different way of telling the same stories. But Lönnrot set out and he wanted to create one, single story that had a beginning and an ending.
Elena: So, my friend joked about Kalevala being Lönnrot's Finnish mythology "fan fic."
Amanda: I love that. That's awesome.
Elena: Because, although Kalevala is very prominent in Finnish culture, it's not really the real deal.
Amanda: Right. Yeah, I mean it sounds like it. It sounds like a person who is a fan of stuff, looking at the whole source text and being like "Nope, this is the one I'm gonna go with."
Elena: Yeah. He didn't write a lot himself in Kalevala, but he did put all the poems in one specific order that they are usually not sang in. Kalevala was first published in 1835, and when it did, it sparked a huge nationalistic movement in Finland. Before 1809, Finland had been part of Sweden for 600 years, and-
Elena: And after that we were part of Russia for almost 200 years more. So Finland wasn't, well, us Finns were very used to not being our own nation.
Elena: But now that we had something like cultural heritage that was written down, it sparked a movement and we finally started to have our own, well, nationalistic pride.
Amanda: Gotcha. That's really cool.
Julia: Wow, that's awesome.
Amanda: Yeah, it's like seeing a flag, you know? Or having a ruler you can get behind that ... seeing a thing that you might have heard your parents and grandparents talk about, like put together in a book that you can hold. That's awesome.
Julia: Yeah, that's a really beautiful thought.
Elena: Before I start telling you the real story of Kalevala, I just want to highlight the fact how important Kalevala is in Finnish culture because ever since we are children, the stories of Kalevala are taught to us in preschool, in elementary school. I remember still learning about them in middle school.
Elena: Like any good story, it begins with the creation myth.
Julia: Of course.
Elena: The creation myth of Kalevala begins when there is nothing more in the whole universe except water and air.
Amanda: Ooh, good start.
Elena: And in that air lives Ilmatar, or you could translate her name into the Spirit of Air, but like a female spirit of air. She just flies around over the water and one day just gets bored and then decides to go for a swim.
Elena: She plunges down and after a while she's been swimming, she begins to feel lonely. And as she starts feeling lonely, the sea winds just gather up and make her pregnant with a child.
Julia: Checks out.
Amanda: Oh no. Never fuck with a sea god. I guess never get bored in the ocean, also?
Julia: Yeah, don't get bored in the ocean.
Elena: The air god, or Ilmatar, just keeps on swimming. Years go by and one day when she's just lounging in the water, a scalp land on her knee. And a scalp is like a small, water bird. And it just creates a nest on Ilmatar's knee and lays seven eggs, six iron eggs, and one golden egg.
Elena: As the nest is ready and the eggs are there, the scalp begins to prood the eggs, and the prooding actually burns Ilmatar. She moves her knee and the eggs break.
Julia: Oh no.
Amanda: Oh no!
Elena: And as the eggs break, they create the sun, the moon, the land, the stars, and the clouds.
Julia: Okay. So good breaking.
Amanda: Oh, wow. Yeah, and I love how physical that is as well because unlike Christian creation that we hear where sort of you know "Oh, snap the fingers and wave the whatever" and like the everything comes into being?
Amanda: This is like I know the feeling of like holding your leg really still and not wanting to wake up your partner or a baby that's resting on your leg and then you have to because your leg just really hurts and you have to move it, like, it's so physical and I love that so much.
Elena: I love the idea of this massive woman just laying in the water and a small bird just creates a small nest on her knee.
Julia: It's very cute.
Elena: Anywho ... Ilmatar keeps on swimming and now she has been pregnant with a child for thirty years.
Amanda: Oh no!
Elena: Inside her womb is her son and she names the son Väinämöinen. And Väinämöinen is literally the main guy in Finnish mythology. He is the dude in our, like in Kalevala.
Elena: Väinämöinen has been in his mother's womb for thirty years and he begins to, well, get frustrated about it.
Julia: I would be too.
Elena: Yeah, so-
Julia: And is he, like, around, like is he conscious in that time?
Elena: Yeah, he's-
Amanda: Uh oh.
Elena: He's living there as a grown man and then he asks his mother if she would birth him? Like, could you please let me out?
Amanda: Oh my goodness. Can we get this go with the man baby Jesus that we like to point out in art, where it's like a tiny man and that's just Jesus.
Elena: Yeah, but Ilmatar doesn't listen to Väinämöinen. She just keeps on swimming. So Väinämöinen decides to crawl out himself. As Väinämöinen exits her mother's womb, he falls into the water and he swims in it for six more years until he gets back to land.
Amanda: Man, y'all like swimming a lot.
Julia: That's a lot of swimming.
Elena: When he comes to the shore, he finds that the land he has arrived at is very barren. And nothing grows there, there is literally nothing except the land.
Elena: This is-
Elena: This is very odd part because suddenly out of nowhere there is another man named Sampsa Pellervoinen who just shows up out of nowhere. He just arrives like "Hey Väinämöinen, I know how to make trees grow." And he does that. He makes the trees and the bushes and the plants grow. And suddenly the world is not barren anymore.
Elena: Even though Pellervoinen can grow trees and bushes, he cannot grow grains and plants that we nowadays know that people grow. So Väinämöinen is a great singer. And in Kalevala's perspective, singer means a magic person, like a magical person.
Julia: Oh, interesting.
Amanda: Oh, wow.
Elena: Because all the spells and conjurings and such are made by singing.
Julia: Which is really cool because you said that this tradition was originally told through song, right?
Julia: That's awesome.
Elena: I find that also very cool because when you are telling the story you are singing it, and when the characters are doing magic they are also singing it.
Amanda: Yeah, that like gives me goosebumps, you know? And also, if you kind of abstract it one level more, that is how we create. Like we create ghosts when we talk, like we conjure up stories and people out of nothing.
Amanda: So it makes so much sense that those two would be tied together.
Elena: Yeah. Anyway, Väinämöinen then begins to create a field, like he slashes and burns down a patch of trees and, like, with his song he creates a very very fertile ground for sowing barley because barley grows very well in the land that is not very fertile.
Elena: Anyway, that is how Väinämöinen created fields and the tradition of creating fields and growing wheat. This is a funny part because this is where the creation myth ends. There is no explanation how people came to be or how animals became to be, they just ... they were there.
Amanda: Wow, maybe they showed up one day and said "Hey, I can make bushes" and then-
Amanda: ... just started like making families.
Elena: Yeah. But that is the creation myth of Kalevala, but this main story is the one that we Finns are being told time and time again.
Elena: It begins with Joukahainen. He is a very young man who is very full of himself. And he hears about this very old sorcerer named Väinämöinen and he wants to challenge Väinämöinen and show him that he is the man. Not some old dude.
Amanda: Uh oh.
Elena: He knows the words of the land and he knows the greatest songs. So he goes on and searches for Väinämöinen, and how about that? He finds Väinämöinen and he dares Väinämöinen into a battle of wits. Who knows more?
Julia: Oh no.
Elena: And Väinämöinen plays dumb, like "Okay, young man. What do you know? I barely know anything."
Elena: And Joukahainen begins to tell him about everything he knows about the way the wheat grows, about the way the waves are created. And Väinämöinen is, well, he humors Joukahainen until Joukahainen lies and tells Väinämöinen he was there when the sun and the stars were created.
Elena: And Väinämöinen knows that the suns and the stars were created even before he was born.
Amanda: Right cause he was there.
Elena: So he is mad at Joukahainen and Joukahainen now challenges him for a sword fight but Väinämöinen doesn't take it. He starts to sing. As he starts to sing, everything Joukahainen came to Väinämöinen with, his carriages, his sword, his dog, his horses, they begin to turn into different parts of the nature. They turn into stone, they turn into trees, and Joukahainen cannot do anything but watch when everything he owns turns to nothing.
Elena: And the last thing Väinämöinen sings is for Joukahainen to fall into a bog and start to sink there.
Julia: That's awesome.
Elena: So now Joukahainen is in big trouble and he begins to plead for Väinämöinen "I will give you many fields, I will give you my greatest boat, I will give you my best horses." But Väinämöinen doesn't care because he has everything and more. At his last breath, Joukahainen offers his sister Aino to become Väinämöinen's pride and now Väinämöinen is very interested because this old nasty man loves a good wife.
Amanda: Fair enough.
Elena: And well, he undoes everything he has sang, and sends Joukahainen back home, well, tail between his legs and as Joukahainen comes back to his mother, he begins to cry and tells her mother how he has promised their beautiful daughter to become a pride for a old man. But surprisingly the mother is very excited because the mother knows how famous and powerful Väinämöinen is because he is the greatest sorcerer of the land.
Elena: And she goes to Aino and shares the happy news, but who would've guessed Aino is not that happy because she doesn't want to marry an old man.
Julia: I don't blame her for that.
Elena: So she begins to cry and runs from home, but as she runs from home in the woods she meets Väinämöinen because Väinämöinen is a creep and apparently followed to Joukahainen home.
Elena: So Väinämöinen starts to woo Aino like, "Beautiful woman, you are gonna be my wife. Do not dress up yourself to any other man, only dress up for me and be the prettiest only for me, your future husband."
Julia: Like "Buddy we haven't even spoken yet, what are you talking about?"
Elena: Well Aino tells him just that. She refuses him, like very, well ... she turns him down and runs off from him as well. As she comes home, she learns that every person in her family is already preparing for the wedding.
Amanda: Oh no.
Elena: They are all very happy for Aino to marry the greatest man of the land, but Aino is young and Aino doesn't want to get locked down so early. To please her mother, she still dresses up in her finest clothing. All the jewels, all the shawls, everything. But then, she walks to a nearby lake. As she stands there next to the lake, she begins to undress again, and she lays every bit of clothing on the shore before walking into the water and drowning herself.
Amanda: Ugh, boy.
Elena: A rabbit sees this. The rabbit runs off and tells Aino's family and Väinämöinen himself what Aino has done and everyone is saddened by this, of course. Especially Aino's mother, who promises to never force her other children to do anything they don't want to. And Väinämöinen who blames himself for the suicide of Aino.
Elena: Think about if it really was Väinämöinen's fault or, well, the society's fault for just giving out the young girls as prizes to be won.
Julia: I usually blame society when I can.
Julia: And like that reminded me of the Sondheim song "Getting Married Today" from Company. I cannot imagine calling off a wedding, period. Much less one where your family is like "Hey, good job marrying like the most powerful man in all the land."
Julia: And your parents and your family and your town, you know, and like the country are all excited and proud. Like can you imagine? I don't know. And that image is just so powerful.
Elena: Mm-hmm (affirmative). But one ... I myself find this a happy thought because Väinämöinen actually, this is not the last time he meets Aino because one day Väinämöinen is fishing at the lake Aino drowned herself in and fishes out a salmon. And it turns out this salmon is actually Aino. And Aino disguised as a salmon and as Väinämöinen sees this, he throws the salmon back into the lake and Aino, one last time, shows herself. She has actually become one of the maidens of Vellamo. She is the deity of the lakes and the water and Aino has become one of her maidens and, like, maidens in waiting you could say.
Amanda: Oh, that's awesome.
Julia: I like that.
Amanda: Yeah, and like the creation story we started with she gets to just like chill in the water all day and that sounds pretty fun.
Elena: But the story continues by Joukahainen, Aino's brother, of course, wanting revenge on Väinämöinen because he blames Väinämöinen on Aino's suicide.
Elena: So one day Joukahainen sees Väinämöinen riding with his horse toward Pohjola and Pohjola is the northern land. It is very often described as the land of the dead, but it is not yet the land of the dead. It's like Pohjola is where the gates to the afterlife are.
Elena: But Väinämöinen is on his way to Pohjola for some reason, it is not mentioned why. But as Joukahainen sees him Väinämöinen is actually riding on water. And this is where I start to, a little bit, suspect that Lönnrot has added some Jesus metaphors in here, because-
Amanda: Oh man, uh oh.
Elena: Because as many Finns at the time were, Lönnrot was Christian.
Amanda: Got it. Syncretism, man.
Elena: Yeah, I don't know if Väinämöinen actually could ride on water because he never does it again, but Joukahainen anyway sees him do this and decides to shoot the horse down. So he shoots the horse, and Väinämöinen falls into the water. Väinämöinen is actually sure that his time has now come, and now he begins to pray for the gods to save him. And suddenly there is a large bird, we call this bird kotka, but it's like a massive eagle-like bird.
Amanda: That's awesome. I love a massive bird.
Amanda: Bird husband, bird husband.
Elena: Well, you are then happy to hear that there are several large birds in Kalevala.
Amanda: Awesome. Yes!
Julia: Ah, good.
Elena: Anyway, the kotka helps Väinämöinen to get to the shore on the Pohjola side of the sea of the lake. Now he is without a horse, he is wet, he's sad. And he arrives to the gates of Pohjola.
Elena: Well, the matriarch of Pohjola is waiting for him. The matriarch is called Louhi, and she is known for cruel but strong will and she is very great sorcerer herself.
Amanda: I already love her. I love her a lot. She's my mom.
Elena: And as Väinämöinen comes to her for help, she offers it to him without anything to ask for him. She just lets him in but as Väinämöinen gets warm and gets something to eat and is no longer wet and sad, Louhi doesn't let him go. And now he's in Pohjola.
Elena: Louhi gives him a proposition. If he can forge the great magical object named sampo, she will let him go. And if he gives the sampo to Louhi, she will also let him marry one of her daughters. But the thing is, Väinämöinen is not a blacksmith. Väinämöinen doesn't know how to forge this magical object.
Julia: Time to learn, buddy, time to learn.
Elena: Väinämöinen doesn't know how to forge sampo, but he knows a person who can. So he tells Louhi he will get this person for her if she lets him go. Louhi agrees to this and let's Väinämöinen go and Väinämöinen returns to his home and walks straight to the workhouse of Ilmarinen the Blacksmith.
Elena: As Väinämöinen is known as the greatest magic man of the land, Ilmarinen is known as the greatest blacksmith. There is actually three main characters, and Väinämöinen and Ilmarinen are the two first ones.
Elena: And as Väinämöinen knows, Ilmarinen will not stop his work for anything. He's kind of a workaholic, you could say. He conjures up a great tree. It is so high it reaches the sky and touches the stars. Then he goes to Ilmarinen and tells him to "Hey dude, come and check out this tree you have in your backyard." And Ilmarinen is intrigued and comes out and sees the tree and then Väinämöinen dares him to climb the tree.
Julia: Oh man, I'd take that dare.
Elena: Yeah, well-
Amanda: Very smart.
Elena: Well, men are men and these are like the most dude bros you can find in all of history.
Julia: Checks out.
Elena: Yeah, of course Ilmarinen takes the dare and starts to climb the tree, but little does he know as he is climbing the tree, Väinämöinen begins to sing again, and now he conjures up a great wind. And this wind takes Ilmarinen all the way to Pohjola where Louhi is waiting for him.
Elena: Well now Louhi gives the same proposition to Ilmarinen. "If you can forge me the sampo and give the sampo to me, I will let you marry one of my daughters." And Ilmarinen is very compelled by this idea because he's the best. There is nothing he cannot do. So the idea of creating sampo is such a great challenge for him, so he takes it without hesitation.
Elena: And he begins to forge. And the funny thing is that he creates sampo out of the tip of a feather from a swan, a drop of milk from a cow that has never been milked before, one grain of barley, and one wisp of sheep's wool. Which is very odd ingredients for a golden object to be using.
Amanda: Yeah, or sort of like Into the Woods. What is the full order, Julia?
Julia: The cow as white as milk, the cape as red as blood, the hair as yellow as corn, the slipper as pure as gold.
Amanda: Yeah, so there's something ... and I mean that's sort of obviously made up a little bit, but it is about fairytales. And there is this idea of like silky, wispy, you know kind of a material going into a golden recipe.
Elena: Yeah, but anywho now that Ilmarinen begins to forge this object, he doesn't succeed at first because it's very challenging to create sampo. So he creates several objects before he succeeds. For instance, he creates a bow that kills anything it shoots. He creates a great war boat. Then he forges a massive cow. And lastly, he forges a golden plow that, well, it plows anything. Any type of field. But he is not satisfied with any of these and as he creates these objects he throws them back into the fire as they come out of it.
Julia: Perfectionist, I got it.
Amanda: It's so interesting. Yeah, and those are all really useful objects. But instead he needs to create this, it sounds like you're not really sure what even the form or the use of this mythical object is so that's really interesting in terms of ambition and the stuff that we give up to get there, you know? Where like you'll forego many useful ideas, opportunities, paths, in order to get to this one idea of the pinnacle, the greatest thing.
Elena: Yeah. But as Ilmarinen forges on he finally succeeds and he creates the sampo. And the only description we are ever given of sampo is that it is golden, it has three different mills in it. One of the mills grinds flowers, one of the mills grinds salt, and the last one grinds gold. So it is like a great magical symbol and object of great wealth and luck.
Amanda: I love that you don't know what it looks like.
Amanda: That's the coolest thing I've ever heard.
Elena: It's one of the great, not written rules of Finnish art that you are not very ... you're not really allowed to paint or draw the sampo and the mystery just keeps on being. No one really knows what it looks like, so you should never paint it.
Julia: That's awesome.
Amanda: Wow, I was going to ask you if there's contemporary art of people imagining what it looks like, but that is cooler. Mystery is cooler.
Julia: Mystery is always cooler.
Elena: Uh-huh. As Ilmarinen finally succeeds in forging the sampo, Louhi is so freaking happy. She has never seen anything like it and now she knows that although her land is very barren and very cold and sad because it's up north and the dead live there, she finally has something better than anyone else.
Elena: So he is happy to let Ilmarinen choose one of her daughters as a bride. As you can expect, it doesn't go that well because when Ilmarinen goes and asks one of the daughters for her hand, the daughter doesn't agree to this because Ilmarinen is very dirty. He has been working all day, he's working always. He never even gave a look for the girl before he was ready and done working, so the girl is not interested.
Julia: That seems to be a common theme.
Amanda: I know, I love that there are so many women who are like "Um, I'm sorry."
Elena: Yeah, as Louhi gets the sampo, she locks it up behind nine massive locks and then buries it into the bedrock of Pohjola. And although Ilmarinen is very disappointed in not getting a wife, he is still very happy about his work and just leaves Pohjola and goes back home.
Julia: Alright. That's not the worst ending to that story.
Amanda: Fair enough.
Elena: And now we get to meet the final and third main character in this main Kalevala story and his name is Lemminkäinen. And when I was younger Lemminkäinen was my favorite character because he is, let's say he's very ridiculous in a way that he is the most arrogant asshole you can meet.
Elena: He is a great fisherman. A young man with good looks and great skills and he's very talented and full of himself.
Amanda: Yeah, fuckboy.
Elena: He is the OG fuckboy of Kalevala because he is very into women. He loves fucking around, as they say.
Elena: And he is a bit of a womanizer. Well then his mother requests for him to finally settle down, get a wife, so he, of course, sets out to get the most beautiful woman in the land.
Amanda: Rolls eyes.
Elena: Yeah. This woman is named Kyllikki. And Kyllikki is known for her love of dance. He is dancing every night, goes from party to party, and she's just a joy to hang out with and, well, she's the most beautiful of them all.
Elena: As Lemminkäinen arrives to Kyllikki's home island, every other woman fells in love with Lemminkäinen except Kyllikki.
Julia: Checks out.
Amanda: Yes, it wouldn't be a story if it happened any other way.
Elena: But sadly Lemminkäinen gets very frustrated about this and ends up snatching Kyllikki out of one of the parties and just riding off with her.
Julia: Oh, buddy.
Amanda: Uh oh. Oh no.
Elena: Yeah, there really was no consent in this because as they are riding off, Kyllikki is very mad at Lemminkäinen like "Let me down, let me down. I don't want to go with you."
Amanda: I do not blame her.
Elena: Yeah, but Lemminkäinen starts to sweet talk her like "Yes, become my wife. I will give you all the things you will ever need and I will be so sweet for you."
Elena: And Lemminkäinen is very handsome, so Kyllikki, she proposes a deal. If Lemminkäinen will never go to war and wage war, she will become his wife and she will not go on dancing every night because it is for some reason very bad for women who are married to dance ever so often.
Elena: Yeah. I don't know.
Julia: It's kind of making the best of a bad situation to be like "Okay, I know that you're like in the middle of kidnapping me, but how about you stop kidnapping me and also world peace." And if one lady has to marry one good looking fuckboy, that's a pretty good calculus.
Elena: Yeah. But sadly, of course, it doesn't end like that because as they get married, and as they live on Lemminkäinen one day stays a little bit longer on one of his fishing trips. Kyllikki gets bored and just for one night, she goes out to dance. And then Lemminkäinen comes back, one of Lemminkäinen's sisters tells on Kyllikki and Lemminkäinen gets to know that she has not kept her promise and this angers him a lot.
Elena: So he collects all his things, all his war gear, to go and wage war in Pohjola, where Louhi rules. And as Kyllikki and Lemminkäinen's mother try to warn him and try to not let him go, he throws them one of his hairbrushes, because is a fancy man, of course he has a hairbrush. And tells the women that if this brush begins to bleed, I am dead. And then just runs off to Pohjola.
Amanda: This is very dramatic.
Elena: As he arrives to Pohjola, he fights everyone. He literally fights everyone he meets. All the young men, all the old men, everyone who can lift a sword, except one person. This very old and blind shepherd. Lemminkäinen tells this shepherd that he is not worth Lemminkäinen's time and then Lemminkäinen just goes on and the shepherd is very hurt and like his pride has been shattered. And he goes away to seek for revenge on Lemminkäinen. In the meantime, Lemminkäinen goes to Louhi and tells Louhi to give him one of her daughters to marry. And Louhi is not very keen on doing this, because Louhi knows Lemminkäinen is already married. When Louhi tells this to Lemminkäinen, Lemminkäinen tells Louhi he doesn't care for his wife anymore.
Elena: Although Louhi doesn't want to give in to Lemminkäinen, she still tells him that "If you can conquer all these tasks I give you, you can have one of my daughters." So the first task is to catch the devil's elk, or the devil's moose.
Amanda: Oh my god.
Elena: Which is like a massive devilish animal that just roams the forests of Pohjola.
Amanda: I just love that imagery. I love the image of a devil moose. I need it in my life.
Julia: I want them to be my child.
Elena: Have you ever met a moose in the wild?
Julia: They're insane. They're huge.
Amanda: Yeah, very far away but it was scary and beautiful.
Elena: Yeah, they are very big and there is a lot of them here. But Lemminkäinen actually succeeds in this, and he brings Louhi the moose and then Louhi has to figure out another task. So she tells him to catch her the flame-maned horse of the devil. And Lemminkäinen goes on and does that as well and Louhi is beginning to be very, what is it, desperate?
Julia: Ooh boy.
Elena: So he tells Lemminkäinen to go on and hunt her the swan that swims in the river of Tuonela. And Tuonela is the underworld of Finnish mythology. And the river of Tuonela is the gateway to Tuonela.
Elena: Tuonela is very much, you can compare Tuonela to Hades in the Greek mythology. So they are very similar and, well, if you go into the water of Tuonela you die because you step through the gates of Tuonela.
Elena: But Lemminkäinen goes on and gathers all his hunting gear and goes to shoot down the swan of Tuonela. As he arrives to the river, there is someone waiting for him. It's the old, blind shepherd that has been, well, whose pride Lemminkäinen destroyed, you could say. And Lemminkäinen doesn't even see him when he arrives to the river. And this shepherd, actually, sends out a great viper and this is a sidenote, in Finland there is only one snake that is venomous, but it is not actually even venomous. You can survive its bite.
Elena: But as this shepherd summons this snake, he stabs Lemminkäinen with it. And I don't know how he does it, stabbing someone with a snake, but he succeeds and then he throws Lemminkäinen into the river. And now Lemminkäinen is very much dead, but as if that weren't enough, one of the people of Tuonela, who is the son of Tuoni, and Tuoni is the leader of Tuonela, his son comes out and slices Lemminkäinen's body into pieces.
Amanda: Oh my god.
Elena: So now, Lemminkäinen is not only dead, but in pieces in the river of Tuonela.
Amanda: This is pretty metal.
Julia: This reminds me of Osiris a little bit.
Elena: Yeah, it is very brutal but back home Lemminkäinen's mother notices that the brush is bleeding very badly, and Kyllikki is very heartbroken by the death of her husband, but Lemminkäinen's mother will not give up. So she travels all the way to Tuonela and goes for Louhi and asks what happened to her son. And Louhi mocks the woman and tells her that "That fool went to the river of Tuonela and he is not coming back."
Elena: Lemminkäinen's mother still goes to the river and now it turns out that the mother is actually also very powerful sorcerer. She sings about a heat wave so powerful that all the people of Tuonela fall asleep. Now she is able to plunge herself into the river, and using a massive rake, she collects all the pieces of Lemminkäinen.
Amanda: Oh wow.
Elena: And now, as she has all the pieces, she begins to sing and starts to rebuild her son. After he is full again, she sings about a bee and asks the bee to bring her some honey from the gardens of God. With this honey, she spreads it all over her son's body and he is alive again.
Amanda: Whoa. That's such like a powerful and tactile resurrection. It's not just like waving your hand it's ... I love it.
Elena: Lemminkäinen's mother is very prominent figure in Finnish mythology because she's seen as the ideal mother. Like what would a mother not do for her children?
Amanda: Right, so like a mom who lifts a car up off of her kid or something crazy. I see how that could probably be a lot for a person to try to live up to, but also it's pretty devoted and beautiful.
Elena: But sadly Lemminkäinen is, in my opinion, he doesn't deserve his mother because as he wakes up, he doesn't even thank you.
Elena: Even though the mother tries to warn him and tell him that "Now you must learn your lesson out of this." He still cannot get his mind away from revenge on Louhi and Louhi's people.
Amanda: Oh no.
Julia: Oh, buddy.
Amanda: I bet there are a lot of parents right now being like "Yep, yeah that's how it is."
Elena: Mm-hmm (affirmative). We go back to Väinämöinen and Väinämöinen is actually, he has returned to his hometown. He has actually not been able to get rid of this beautiful woman in his mind. This gorgeous daughter of Louhi. So he decides to go back to Pohjola to ask for her hand.
Amanda: Didn't learn his lesson, did he?
Elena: No, he did not. And on his way he actually meets Annikki. Annikki is Ilmarinen's sister and she is very known for her wits and will and she's like the clever woman in the story.
Elena: As Annikki learns that Väinämöinen is going to go and woo the woman that was promised for her brother, he goes on to Ilmarinen and tells Ilmarinen that "If you will forge mt eh most beautiful jewels, I will help you to get you your wife back."
Elena: Well Ilmarinen agrees to this and Annikki actually uses her knowledge of great love spells and she prepares a very powerful and magical sauna, and ... in the olden times, people used to bathe in saunas in Finland, so she prepares this sauna for her brother, he uses all kinds of magical objects like the specific type of water and the specific type of wood to warm the sauna. And as Ilmarinen is ready with the jewels, Annikki lets him go to the sauna, and as Ilmarinen exits the sauna, Annikki is almost unable to recognize her brother. Now he is clean as ever, he is handsome as ever, and he is ready to go back to Pohjola and get him his wife.
Julia: Alright, alright. Not a bad idea.
Elena: Alright. And now Väinämöinen has arrived to Pohjola, but before he goes to Louhi, Louhi has actually learned of Väinämöinen's plans. He now tells her daughter to accept Väinämöinen because Väinämöinen, as we all know, is the most powerful man in the land. So Louhi really wants him to be her son in law.
Elena: But as with Aino, Louhi's daughter doesn't want to marry an old man.
Amanda: Always something wrong.
Julia: Always something.
Elena: When Väinämöinen arrives, he tries to woo her, and she does not give in. She doesn't want to marry this old dude. And then the gorgeous Ilmarinen arrives again.
Amanda: Oh no.
Elena: And he is here to ask for her hand. Unlike the last time they met, Ilmarinen is now very intent on marrying the daughter and now he's clean and very handsome and also powerful. Louhi's daughter really wants to marry him. But just like with Lemminkäinen before, Louhi doesn't want to give her daughter to Ilmarinen, so she gives him three tasks to conquer before he can get her daughter's hand.
Julia: Always some tasks. Always three of them.
Amanda: I know. I picture her just sort of looking around the house and being like ... like I don't know what my version of that would be. I'd be like "Uh, go get me a bunch of stuff from Trader Joe's cause it's really far away and hard to get to on the subway. And wash my walls, do people do that?" I don't even know what I would ask.
Elena: But Ilmarinen is very disheartened by this. And the tasks actually begin in the next day. But the same night as Ilmarinen is beginning to go to sleep, he actually goes to visit Louhi's daughter one last time before he tries to conquer these tasks. And he opens up and tells this woman all his worries and all the things on his mind and the honesty and openness of Ilmarinen really ... get Louhi's daughter and she falls for him even more.
Julia: It's almost like women are looking for emotional vulnerability in their men. Crazy, right?
Amanda: I know.
Elena: She decides to help Ilmarinen. And she actually gives him some advice on how to beat all these tasks he is going to meet tomorrow. So Ilmarinen is now full of strength, full of courage, and he knows that the woman she wants is actually on his side.
Elena: And the next day, incredible thing happens and he actually beats all the tasks Louhi gives him. He, for instance, plows a field full of snakes, and he hunts down the devil's bear.
Julia: Okay. The devil has a lot of animals in this story.
Amanda: The devil has a lot of animals, yeah.
Julia: The devil just casually has a zoo in this story.
Elena: Yeah. Really. And it's funny because this is also the part when the Christianity really lurks into the story because Finnish mythology doesn't have a devil. It's very Christian thing, so I don't know who this devil is but he has a lot of animals.
Elena: And lastly, Ilmarinen has to fish a massive pike out of a nearby lake. And he actually succeeds in every task.
Amanda: Hey, it's almost like emotional connection and vulnerability with your partner makes you better and stronger.
Elena: Yeah, and Louhi has no other option but accept the offer and let Ilmarinen marry her most beautiful daughter. After this there is a whole scene of having the biggest wedding ever, like it's so massive that Louhi invites everyone from everywhere, except Lemminkäinen.
Julia: Oh no. Always invite everyone to your wedding because that just leads to bad things.
Amanda: Then the person you leave out will plot against you. That's what's just going to happen.
Julia: Yep. This is amazing but first, I think I'm gonna need a refill
Amanda: Yes let's get to it.
Amanda: Jules, in the middle of your trek through the near arctic wastelands on your long arduous journey of love, lost in a forest, you're gonna get hungry.
Julia: That is true.
Amanda: And it's great to have something with you on your journey, just in your bag, after the gym, you never know when you're gonna need a lil snack for your unexpected adventure.
Julia: That's true as well.
Amanda: And what is our favorite snack to bring?
Julia: I think that would be an RXBar.
Amanda: Hell yeah!
Julia: So you've heard us talk about RX Bars before, we've talked about our favorite flavors and stuff like that, but did you know that as of May 14th there are 3 new flavors to try and they're amazing!
Amanda: What? I'm gonna have to put my peanut butter fave on the shelf for a second and figure out one of these new flavors.
Julia: You like your peanut butter flav but what if you had peanut butter and berries? Or mango pineapple? Perfect for summer.
Amanda: Sounds like my favorite smoothies.
Julia: Or my personal favorite, like I'm a Ferraro Rocher kinda gal so I'm so stoked for chocolate hazelnut.
Amanda: They are really, really delicious and they actually have new nut butters coming out as well.
Julia: Oh, sweet!
Amanda: Yeah that whole ethos of listen, the packaging has the ingredients, we are just about actual food and no BS, same for the nut butters. So there's a honey cinnamon peanut butter, which is legit straight up peanut butter, and then vanilla almond butter and I am very excited to tell you guys that if you order your first RXBar order use the code Spirits for 25% off.
Julia: Oh, yo that's such a good deal!
Amanda: Yeah, that's like snacks for a whole week.
Julia: Snacks on snacks!
Amanda: And they're so affordable seriously we love these people, we love RXBar, we love the product. So you can go to RXBar.com/Spirits, enter promo code Spirits at checkout,
Julia: That is awesome, I actually cannot wait to toast up some sourdough and put that honey cinnamon peanut butter on top, that sounds amazing.
Amanda: See, I'm gonna do some early summer tart apples and try that stuff out.
Julia: Yeah that's gonna be awesome.
Amanda: Yum. Alright thank you RXBar, RXBAR.com/Spirits, 25% off.
Elena: Let's finally talk about Tolkien and Túrin Turambar.
Amanda: Call back.
Elena: Yeah, as I mentioned earlier, Tolkien actually was very inspired by Kalevala. And he was especially a big fan of the story of Kalervo. And he actually re-wrote the story of Kalervo and named it The Story of Kalervo, very imaginatively. But he very much liked the story, so much that he based his character Túrin Turambar on Kalervo.
Elena: And Kalervo's story is very tragic and very brutal. And it begins with two brothers, Untamo and Kalervo, who hate each other. And they hate each other so much that Untamo one day decides to slaughter everyone in Kalervo's village, all of Kullervo's people.
Amanda: That is very extreme.
Elena: Yeah, but again, except one, Kalervo's pregnant wife.
Elena: Yes. And he takes the mother in and as she gives birth, he keeps the son, which Kalervo's wife names Kullervo. And Kullervo grows up as an orphan. His mother is nowhere to be found an Untamo basically has Kullervo as his slave. But very soon Untamo realizes that Kullervo is very powerful and very bad-willed. He sows sorrow everywhere he goes and everything he does, and Kullervo is filled with want of revenge for his father.
Elena: So Untamo sells Kullervo as a slave to Ilmarinen who has a brand new wife. They are happily living in the town of Vainala, which is the place where Ilmarinen and Väinämöinen live. Kullervo is given to Ilmarinen's new wife, and the wife, although seeing Kullervo's great strength and talent, she gives him the most undesirable job as a shepherd. And Kullervo's pride is very hurt by this because he has all the power and he just is a shepherd, like nobody respects him.
Elena: Kullervo is wallowing in self-pity, like he's just full of it. He's like "Why would any of this happen to me? I am the greatest man of all and my father has been betrayed so badly by his brother and how can any of this happen?" And then, as he begins to eat his lunch, which Ilmarinen's wife has prepared for her subordinate, I don't know, slave, he cuts the bread and breaks the one thing that he has of his father's which is a knife.
Julia: Oh no.
Elena: And it turns out the wife is actually very mischievous and has baked a stone inside of Kullervo's bread.
Amanda: This is a bad situation. You should not enslave people. I think that's a given.
Elena: Yeah, that's a very like yikes situation in Kalevala because it is mentioned very often that Ilmarinen has slaves, like-
Elena: No one else has slaves in Kalevala except Ilmarinen.
Julia: Not great, buddy.
Elena: And he's like the good guy.
Amanda: That's not what you wanna be known for, like in town or at church or at the market. Like "Oh yeah, that's them down the road, you know, they have slaves."
Elena: Yeah, but as Kullervo breaks his knife, he goes insane with rage. He has never been as angry as he is now and he begins to sing because of course he does. And he sings a great herd of wolves and bears and he commands this heard of beasts to first eat all the cows that he has been herding, and then he leads the herd to Ilmarinen's wife. And the wolf and the bears tear her apart.
Amanda: Oh boy, that's an ending.
Elena: Yep, she dies a very brutal death, and Kullervo decides to get the heck out of there because he knows he will face the wrath of Ilmarinen if he stays.
Julia: Yeah, no kidding.
Elena: So now Kullervo is on the run, but he hears a rumor that actually, his father and mother are not dead. He goes after this rumor and, lo and behold, he finds his family. And they are reunited with happiness and tears and everything is good for awhile, although he does hear that one of his sisters has gone missing. But it doesn't matter, because now he has his family, and they are happy together.
Elena: Sadly everything Kullervo does goes wrong, as usually things do. And whatever he does for the work in the farm or on the fields, everything just turns to crap. The weeds he tries to sow is all rotten and if he tries to hunt his equipment don't work and he's not a very happy man still, even though he has his family back.
Elena: And then, one winter, he is sent to pay the taxes for his family's sake. So he takes a wagon and just sets off through the snowy forests. And on his trip he meets several women, and tries to woo them to his wagon, if you know what I mean. And as he is very unfortunate, none of them really take his bite. And this, of course, angers him, and the final woman he meets skiing on his path, he snatches to his wagon and goes off. Too much lady snatching in this story, in my opinion.
Elena: But the woman he has now with him is very mad, of course, because "Why the hell are you stopping me from skiing where I want to go? Let me go, thank you very much." But Kullervo brags about his wealth because he has all the taxes with him, he can show how much money he has although it's not technically his anymore.
Elena: And he's very handsome, so the woman is seduced by him. He parks the wagon into the woods and they have some good time together, and after sleeping with each other the woman wants to know more about this mysterious, handsome man she has met on the snowy road and she asks about his family, like, "Whose son are you?" And "Where are you from?"
Amanda: You know, normal questions.
Elena: Yeah, and as Kullervo tells about his father Kalervo, it of course turns out this woman is his missing sister.
Amanda: Oh no.
Elena: The sister, upon hearing this, goes mad with shame and sorrow. And they have been parked near a very strong rapid, like a, it's not a waterfall, but almost like a waterfall.
Amanda: Oh no.
Elena: And, as you might guess, she throws herself into the rapid.
Amanda: You know, nobody should commit suicide for any reason, especially shame, but why is it always the woman that do this in the story?
Elena: Yeah, but sadly the story of Kullervo is not a happy one. And as he is very shamed also by this, he decides to finally take revenge on the person he blames this all on, which is his uncle Untamo.
Elena: So he takes his sword, he takes his carriage, and he goes to Untamo's village and kills everyone in there, every woman, every child, every man, every animal. The blood bath is massive. And after this, he walks back all bloodied, the sword still in his hand to the spot where he disgraced his sister, and he lays the sword upwards into the ground, the blade towards the sky, and he throws himself upon that blade.
Julia: Oh buddy.
Amanda: What a sad situation.
Elena: Yeah. So that is the story of Kullervo. And it is not a very happy end. And this is the, I don't know why, but this is the one Tolkien liked the most.
Julia: That seems like Tolkien though, let's be real here.
Amanda: Yeah, it's true. It's very extra. And it also has these themes that we see a lot, like repeated in just like stories people tell each other, but especially in novels, of heroism, and irony. Like this is like a Greek tragedy in its construction. Which I guess for some reason that's the kind of shit that people, on some level, like to hear.
Elena: Yeah. I don't know why people are always so interested in tragedy. Myself, I am very interested in the witch hunts, which are one of the most gruesome things in human history, but I still am very interested in this.
Amanda: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah, I don't know, I mean, maybe it's something about ... we all feel like fate kind of happens to us, that life happens to us sometimes. That as much as you want to think that you're in control, sometimes it happens that you feel as if you can't really control anything. And so in a story where somebody does their best to control their circumstances and in the end a prophecy happens to them, or bad things befall them that they unknowingly created for themselves, even though it's sad, maybe it is, on some level, reassuring that at the end of the day, we can't control anything. And that might make people in kind of like an ironic way, accept that fact about life a little bit easier.
Elena: Yeah. But now let's Finnish the story of Kalevala. This I like the grand finale of Kalevala, in which Väinämöinen, still living happily in Vainala, begins to wonder about sampo. And why on earth would Louhi own sampo even though a man from Vainala has forged it?
Elena: The more he thinks about it, the more he wants the sampo back in his hometown. So he goes to Ilmarinen, who is still heartbroken about his wife's gruesome death, and begs him to join him in a grand robbery scheme, you might say.
Julia: It's a heist.
Elena: It's a heist, yes. And the two men also are joined by, whom other but Lemminkäinen, who is very pissed off about not being invited to the biggest part of the century. And also a little bit pissed off about dying because of Louhi.
Elena: The three men begin their journey from Vainala back to Pohjola. On their way to Pohjola they actually fish a massive pike, one of those large fishes Ilmarinen actually had to fish for Louhi in his tasks he had to conquer, but with this one Väinämöinen actually takes the jawbone of the pike and creates the first kantele. And kantele is a very traditional Finnish instrument with strings that you play, you hold it in your hand and you play the strings. It's very much like a harp, but it's a Finnish instrument and actually, it is the one instrument you usually help the singer who sings the songs of Kalevala.
Elena: It's the one magical, well not magical ... it's the one instrument you use to tell the story of Kalevala. It's like the melody comes from the kantele.
Amanda: Wow, that's beautiful.
Elena: Väinämöinen creates the first kantele out of a fish's jawbone. So as they move on they come to Pohjola and they meet Louhi, who is very surprised to see these three dudes back in town.
Amanda: I bet.
Elena: And her surprise turns to anger very quickly when Väinämöinen tells her to share the riches of sampo. For Pohjola to have all of its wealth and its luck and its good things, Louhi should share the wealth of sampo.
Elena: But Louhi, of course, is not into that and before Louhi gets to do anything, however, Väinämöinen begins to play his kantele. And the song is so beautiful and so hypnotizing that everyone in Pohjola slowly fall asleep.
Elena: And now the three robbers really get to work because as you remember, Louhi planted the sampo inside the bedrock of Pohjola.
Julia: Right, with the nine gates and the stone vault and all that.
Elena: Yes, so first Väinämöinen sings the sampo out of the ground, because he is also, sadly he is better sorcerer than Louhi. And for some reason I am suddenly on the side of Louhi in this one, I don't know why.
Julia: I don't blame you.
Amanda: Listen, no one here has had an easy life.
Elena: And after Väinämöinen has done this, it's Ilmarinen's turn to open all the nine locks and Lemminkäinen just is there. He doesn't really help them because he has nothing to do until they all need to carry the sampo into their boat and start rowing back.
Elena: And now the job is done, right? Hmm?
Amanda: Nope. Never that easy.
Elena: Well, Lemminkäinen starts to think that and he wants to celebrate, so he wants to start singing.
Julia: Oh, buddy, no.
Amanda: Uh oh.
Elena: Although Väinämöinen tries to stop him, he begins to sing anyway and his song is harsh and ugly and loud and it scares a single crane from the bank of the lake, and this crane flies all the way back to Pohjola and wakes everyone up.
Julia: This is why bards are my least favorite D and D class. They're powerful.
Elena: Yeah, but then again, Lemminkäinen is not a very good singer, and that's why it was harsh and that's why the crane got scared. If it was Väinämöinen maybe we wouldn't be in this scenario.
Julia: That's fair.
Amanda: Really, yeah.
Elena: Louhi is, of course, furious so she begins to sing and she conjures the Utu tyttö, who is the, well you could translate her name into "the girl of mist" or "the mist girl".
Julia: My favorite character so far
Elena: Yeah. She is the deity who creates mist, of course. She tells Utu tyttö to go and get Väinämöinen. It cause both lost in a great mist. And then Louhi sings and conjures Iku-Turso and you can't really translate that name, but Iku-Turso is like a kraken, because it's a great lake monster.
Elena: Louhi sings for it to attack Väinämöinen and their boat, but Väinämöinen has all the tricks up his sleeve, and as the mist wraps around them, he actually cuts through the mist with his sword. Like the mist is so thick, you can literally cut through it. And as Iku-Turso-
Amanda: That's amazing.
Elena: ... rises up from the depths, Väinämöinen just grabs it by the ear and very harshly tells it not to come back up.
Amanda: Oh my god. It's like a mom.
Elena: Yeah, and I'm like, in my mind, when I remember the story, I heard it as a child, I always imagined like this huge monster and Väinämöinen and his crew having to fight it or something, but now that I revisited the story, it just, he grabs the monster by the ear and tells it to go back.
Julia: That's amazing.
Elena: And Iku-Turso does that and, well, that's it. And they continue their way to Vainala, but Louhi is not giving up. Here's the other big bird part I told you guys about.
Elena: Louhi turns herself into a massive bird, resembling a hawk. And she actually tells her troops, all the war troops she has, to climb up her back and then she flies after our three robbers from Vainala. And as they catch up to them there is a massive fight, so Ilmarinen and Lemminkäinen are fighting Louhi's troops, and Väinämöinen himself is fighting Louhi. And as this all goes on, Louhi tries to reach for Sampo, with her massive claw, but she drops Sampo into the water.
Amanda: Oh no.
Elena: And the sampo shatters into a million pieces.
Julia: Oh no!
Amanda: Whoa. Lost to time.
Elena: I can just imagine this one single pause, like this, one second of silence until everyone kind of like gets back up on Louhi's back and Louhi starts to fly away, cursing Väinämöinen, cursing Lemminkäinen, cursing their whole land, because they took the great treasure from her.
Elena: And, well, Väinämöinen, Lemminkäinen, Ilmarinen, they all go back to Vainala very sad, like very bummed out that they did all that trouble for nothing, really.
Elena: But as they arrive to the shore, Väinämöinen realizes that all the pieces of sampo have actually drifted on the shore, began to make the shore very fertile. So Väinämöinen goes and picks up all the pieces he can find, and takes it into his village and gives it out for everyone, and buries it into the ground.
Elena: And with this, the village of Vainala has never been more fertile and more lucky and actually they get what they wanted.
Amanda: That's awesome.
Elena: They get great fortune for their land.
Julia: That's so cool.
Elena: This is technically the ending of Kalevala, although there is several stories afterwards in which Louhi tries to take this happiness away from Vainala, but every time she tries, she fails.
Julia: That's so cool.
Amanda: I guess one of the lessons here is that if you need to get rid of a murder weapon or something in Finland, don't break it up, just burn it. Just to be safe. Just to be careful.
Elena: Yeah. That is the story of Kalevala. And, well, it was a long story, but it actually is very much longer than this.
Amanda: Wow. Well that was so fascinating.
Julia: Yeah, that was amazing. That was so good.
Amanda: Wow, well I'd love to hear from fellow listeners who might have grown up with the story or have similar ones where you're from and kind of your ideas about why, why is this the thing that we still teach and repeat?
Elena: It most likely is because Finland is such a small country that we literally have nothing else. We only have the one book.
Amanda: Yeah. And sometimes, look, you work with what you've got. And if that's the story that was repeated and written down at the right time, and ticked the right boxes in terms of nation-building, then you get to decide which parts of it you keep and which ones you think are important in the modern day.
Elena: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Amanda: Well, Elena thank you so much for taking us through this epic story. And for writing to us after hearing the Tolkien episode.
Elena: No, thank you guys for listening for me to ramble on and on about this.
Julia: It was our absolute pleasure.
Amanda: Our absolute pleasure and listeners, if you like this, Elena has a podcast in Finnish, right?
Elena: Yeah, in Finnish. It's Kuin Ananas ja Kookos, which is also from a Finnish poem, but is actually a children's poem about how to be friends and this podcast is all about friendship, so-
Julia: That's adorable.
Amanda: I love it
Elena: If you know Finnish, you can come around and listen to me and my friends talk about friendship.
Amanda: And I think one coming out in English as well soon that we will include the link in the description of this podcast when it is out. If you're listening to us in the future and if you're listening to us in the present, we will tweet it when it is ready.
Julia: Yes, and that podcast is gonna be very interesting ... like I'm very sure that this podcast is right up your listener's alley because it's gonna be me and several of my friends talking about witchcraft.
Julia: Yes. We're so excited.
Amanda: Can't wait. Cool. Well thank you again, and listeners, remember. Stay creepy, stay cool.
Julia: Spirits was created by Amanda McLoughlin, Julia Schifini, and Eric Schneider with music by Kevin MacLeod and visual design by Allyson Wakeman.
Amanda: Keep up with all things creepy and cool by following us on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, and Instagram @spiritspodcast. We also have all our episodes, collaborations and guest appearances, plus merch on our website, spiritspodcast.com.
Julia: Come on over to our Patreon page, patreon.com/spiritspodcast for all kinds of behind the scenes stuff. Throw us a little as one dollar and get access to audio extras, recipe cards, director's commentaries, and patron-only livestreams.
Amanda: Hey, if you like the show, please share us with your friends. That is the best way to help us keep on growing.
Julia: Thank you so much for listening. Till next time.