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Tales of Ages Long Forgotten: Finnish III

Posted on January 1st, 2014 by Don Cerow

Ages come and Ages go. As each New Age washes overs us civilizations learn new lessons about life, new ways of being. Once an epoch has past, cultural memories begin to fade, preserved first by tradition before being lost beneath the sands of Time.

The more one walks the mythic trail, the more it becomes obvious that there was an upwelling of interest in oral traditions from approximately 6300 to 4800 BC, as the spread of myths blossomed in the ancient Middle Eastern river civilizations we know today. During Spring’s passage through the stars of Gemini, clever minds figured out how to better harness the forces of nature by developing travel and trade for needed resources, of using seasonal migrations to feed and nourish livestock, expanding irrigation techniques and the development of granaries for long-term hedges against famine and the other destructive forces of nature.

The AIR sign Gemini deals with duality, breath and communication. Myths originating from this period were said to be ‘Born of the Egg’, or have an Egg split as a part of their Creation Myth, in a ritual enacted every New Year’s. These themes evolved into the legends of old, wherein entire epics were memorized and performed, harnessed only by poetic meter.

They were singing hymns; songs to the Creator.

Celestial highlights may have been a source of their spiritual inspiration. Indeed, our theme of Creation Born of an Egg takes us back to stories we heard as children. This is the Goose that, once upon a time, laid the Golden Egg.

Mother Goose.

We still hold the archetype dear, to pass the ‘truth’ of their wisdom to the children. Like a bird singing the Sun to rise, so Song called the world into being.

From Rune III in the Kalevala:

Wainamoinen, ancient minstrel,
Passed his years in full contentment,
On the meadows of Wainola,
On the plains of Kalevala,
Singing ever wondrous legends,
Songs of ancient wit and wisdom,
Chanting one day, then a second,
Singing in the dusk of evening,
Singing till the dawn of morning,
Now the tales of old-time heroes,

Tales of ages long forgotten,
Now the legends of creation,
Once familiar to the children,
By our children sung no longer,

      It is these last four lines that stand out, speaking of times gone by. According to the mythology of the ancient Finns, within songs are contained the wisdom of the Ages. In the following verses, a young, impertinent, impulsive wizard,Youkahainem, challenges an older master:
Spake again to Wainamoinen:
“Young or ancient, little matter,
Little consequence the age is;
He that higher stands in wisdom,
He whose knowledge is the greater,
He that is the sweeter singer,
He alone shall keep the highway,
And the other take the roadside.
Art thou ancient Wainamoinen,
Famous sorcerer and minstrel?
Let us then begin our singing,
Let us sing our ancient legends,
Let us chant our garnered wisdom,
That the one may hear the other,
That the one may judge the other,
In a war of wizard sayings.”
      And a little later from Rune III…
Tell the story of creation,
Tell me of the world’s beginning,
Tell me of the creatures in it,
And philosophize a little.”
      We are seeing not only the importance of Song as the medium through which their magic passes, but also its power. Wainamoinen is clearly the greater wizard, and Youkahainem finally realizes that he is out-classed, that he has bitten off more than he can chew.
Grandly sang wise Wainamoinen,
Till the copper-bearing mountains,
And the flinty rocks and ledges
Heard his magic tones and trembled;
Mountain cliffs were torn to pieces,
All the ocean heaved and tumbled;
And the distant hills re-echoed.

Lo! the boastful Youkahainen
Is transfixed in silent wonder,
And his sledge with golden trimmings
Floats like brushwood on the billows;
Sings his braces into reed-grass,
Sings his reins to twigs of willow,
And to shrubs his golden cross-bench.
Lo! his birch-whip, pearl-enameled,
Floats a reed upon the border;
Lo! his steed with golden forehead,
Stands a statue on the waters;
Hames and traces are as fir-boughs,
And his collar, straw and sea-grass.

Still the minstrel sings enchantment,
Sings his sword with golden handle,
Sings it into gleam of lightning,
Hangs it in the sky above him;
Sings his cross-bow, gaily painted,
To a rainbow o’er the ocean;
Sings his quick and feathered arrows
Into hawks and screaming eagles;
Sings his dog with bended muzzle,
Into block of stone beside him;
Sings his cap from off his forehead,
Sings it into wreaths of vapor;
From his hands he sings his gauntlets
Into rushes on the waters;
Sings his vesture, purple-colored,
Into white clouds in the heavens;
Sings his girdle, set with jewels,
Into twinkling stars around him;

And alas! for Youkahainen,
Sings him into deeps of quick-sand;
Ever deeper, deeper, deeper,
In his torture, sinks the wizard,
To his belt in mud and water.
Now it was that Youkahainen
Comprehended but too clearly
What his folly, what the end was,
Of the journey he had ventured,
Vainly he had undertaken
For the glory of a contest
With the grand, old Wainamoinen.
When at last young Youkahainen,
Pohyola’s old and sorry stripling,
Strives his best to move his right foot,
But alas! the foot obeys not;
When he strives to move his left foot,
Lo! he finds it turned to flint-stone.
Thereupon sad Youkahainen,
In the deeps of desperation,
And in earnest supplication,
Thus addresses Wainamoinen:
“O thou wise and worthy minstrel,
Thou the only true, magician,
Cease I pray thee thine enchantment,
Only turn away thy magic,
Let me leave this slough of horror,
Loose me from this stony prison,
Free me from this killing torment,
I will pay a golden ransom.”

      “In the beginning was the word.”  -John 1:1

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