Mother Earth and Father Sky

Akka the Earth Goddess

In Finnish mythology, Akka was the personification of the earth. She was also known as Rauni coming from the Swedish word rönn (rowan tree). Rowan trees were Akka´s sacred trees. Akka in modern Finnish means an old woman but in pre-written times Akka was an old Finnish expression for a grandmother. It was also an honorary title given to a woman who had lived to old age. She was known as Maanutar, Manutar, Maahetar, Akka mantereenalainen (ancient woman who lives inside the earth) all these names are derived from the Finnish word maa meaning earth.

Akka was celebrated on matopäivä (Spring Equinox). Snakes and worms were her sacred animals. It was believed that after the long winter Akka woke up in Matopäivä and all the worms and snakes rose from the ground and danced in her honour. She had a daughter called Manua spirit of the dry land and her sons were earth spirits called mantu´s Akka was the wife of Ukko. Finnish god of thunder and fertility. In Finland, there is not a great deal of written information about her. Worship of mother earth is ancient and the cult of the mother earth dates back 30 000 years.

It is very likely that Akka/Rauni and Ukko were brought by the ancient Baltic tribes who arrived at what is now known as Finland approximately 7000 years ago bringing agriculture with them. A new belief system mixed together with the animistic world view of the Saami´s creates its own unique mythology. Balts also brought a strong female aspect to Finnish mythology. Akka has many similarities to the Lithuanian goddess of the earth Žemyna. Several myths and chants about Akka were changed in the Middle Ages and she became one of the several variations of the Virgin Mary. Both Akka and Ukko are connected to the fertility of the land. According to the myth, Akka took the form of a woman who rose from a lake and Ukko the thunder god stroked her with a thunderbolt. That is how earth and sky came one.

Ukko, God of thunder, sky and community

Ukko was the god of thunder, fertility and weather in Finnish mythology and he was one of the most respected gods in the Finnish pantheon. His name literally means an old man in modern Finnish but in the pre-Christian times, Ukko was an honorary title given to a man who had reached a high age. The Finnish word for thunder ukkonen is also derived from the name Ukko. Ukko was one of the most important gods because he provided rain which was essential in the agricultural society. Several Finnish scholars of folklore have suggested that Ukko evolved from an even older Finnish deity called Ilma, god of the air. This suggestion is supported by the fact that many other Finno-Ugric tribes worshipped a god called Inmar. Ukko´s origins can be also tracked to Baltic myths. Lithuanian thunder god Perkunas, Latvian Perkons and Slavic Perun all share similarities with Ukko. God of the thunder was a very common character in all cultures where people spoke Indo-European languages.

​It was believed that Ukko created lightning with a hammer, sword or by shooting arrows. In Finland Ukko´s role was most often connected to fertility. He was a very popular god among young women who performed love spells. Ukko´s assistance was also sought when couples had difficulties having children. Sometimes Ukko was also worshipped as a god of battle and god of hunting. Later when the church rose to power in Finland and in the rest of Scandinavia Ukko´s reputation as the god of fertility and the sky was used to convert people into Christianity by making Ukko equivalent to a Christian god.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z_18GgDU4GA&t=5s

When agriculture became more established Ukko was called Ukko Ylijumala (Ukko the highest of the gods). Ukko was celebrated during a festival called Ukon Vakat. Ukon Vakat included good food, drinking, singing and dancing. It was a communal festival that gathered several families and communities together. Ukon Vakat took place on Midsummer Solstice. Ukko has shamanic origins. Before he became a humanised character in ancient Finland people believed that sky and thunder were ruled by the thunderbird Ukkoslintu or Kokkolintu. Ukkoslintu was probably a giant eagle who was worshipped by the hunter-gatherers as one of their totemic gods. Similar characters/spirits can be found from several different Finno-Ugric tribes and from many native American myths.

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Niina's Fairychamber

Niina's Fairychamber

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Illustrator, writer and folklorist. Likes cats, tea and period dramas. A host of the Little Women Podcast.