Tietäjä (pl. tietäjät, 'seer', 'wise man', literally 'knower') is a magically powerful figure in traditional Finno-Karelian culture, whose supernatural powers arise from his great knowledge.Tietäjät have been most extensively studied in recent years by Anna-Leena Siikala and Laura Stark.
Finnish paganism was the indigenous pagan religion in Finland, Estonia, and Karelia prior to Christianisation. It was a polytheistic religion, worshipping a number of different deities. The principal god was the god of thunder and the sky, Ukko; other important gods included Jumi (Jumala), Ahti, and Tapio. Jumala was a sky god; today, the word "Jumala" refers to the Christian God. Ahti was a god of the sea, waters and fish. Tapio was the god of forests and hunting.
Arja Anna-Leena Siikala was a professor emeritus at the University of Helsinki, specialising in folk-belief, mythology, and shamanism, along with oral storytelling and traditionality.
The activities of a tietäjä were primarily healing and preventing illness, but also included helping with farming, fishing and hunting; dealing with witchcraft; supporting approved marriages and disrupting disapproved liaisons; identifying thieves; and bringing success to ventures such as journeys or building.Their incantations might call on helpers such as the dead, väki , Ukko, Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary, or animal spirits.
Ukko, or Äijä or Äijö, parallel to Uku in Estonian mythology, is the god of the sky, weather, harvest and thunder in Finnish mythology. Ukkonen, the Finnish word for thunder is the diminutive form of the name Ukko. Some researchers believe that Ilmarinen, another Finnic sky god, is the origin of Ukko, while some others believe that Ukko's original name was Baltic Perkele. Ukko is held the most significant god of Finnish mythology, although it is disputed by scholars whether this is accountable to later Christian influence. In the folk poems and prayers he is also given the epithet Ylijumala, probably in reference to his status as the most highly regarded god and on the other hand his traditional domain in the heavens. Other names for Ukko include Pitkänen, Isäinen, Isoinen. Although portrayed active in myth, Ukko makes all his appearances in legend solely by natural phenomena when appealed to. According to Martti Haavio, the name Ukko was sometimes used as a common noun or generalised epithet for multiple deities instead of denoting a specific god.
Many tietäjät knew Kalevala -metre poems, as well as mythical stories, spells, and healing charms. One of the key branches of the tietäjä's knowledge concerned aetiologies ( synnyt , s. synty) of natural phenomena. It was believed that beings and phenomena could be controlled if their origin was known. For example, disease could be overcome if one recited or sang its synty. This knowledge was closely guarded. Tietäjät, sorcerers and healers were seen as protectors of a kind of cosmic equilibrium. Different kinds of beings had their own place in the universe, and if beings found themselves out of place, problems arose. The healer's role was often to return the beings to the right place. A sage generally knew the different requirements for different spells, in which often one needed to do rituals and recite spells, often also use magical substances or magic items. Their practices have often been compared with shamanism.
The Kalevala is a 19th-century work of epic poetry compiled by Elias Lönnrot from Karelian and Finnish oral folklore and mythology.
Synty is an important concept in Finnish mythology. Syntysanat ('origin-words') or syntyloitsut ('origin-charms') provide an explanatory, mythical account of the origin of a phenomenon, material, or species, and was an important part of traditional Finno-Karelian culture, particularly in healing rituals. Although much in the Finnish traditional charms is paralleled elsewhere, 'the role of aetiological and cosmogonic myths' in Finnic tradition 'appears exceptional in Eurasia'. The major study remains that by Kaarle Krohn, published in 1917.
Shamanism is a practice that involves a practitioner reaching altered states of consciousness in order to perceive and interact with what they believe to be a spirit world and channel these transcendental energies into this world.
The tietäjä is first recorded in Gabriel Maxenius's 1733 De effectibus fascino naturalibus.People known as tietäjät existed in real life, though the institution is now 'nearly extinct'. Traditions of Kalevalaic poetry, and the associated institution of the tietäjä, were aggressively opposed in Lutheran early modern Sweden (which included modern Finland), but became integrated into Russian Orthodox culture in Karelia and Ingria, partly assimilating to and partly thriving alongside Christian culture. Remnants of the tietäjä tradition also persisted among the Forest Finns as late as the twentieth century.
Gabriel Maxenius was born about 1710 in Lohja, probably to freeholders in the village of Maksjoki. He became a student at Turku Cathedral School on 21 February 1723, graduating on 19 June 1729, and matriculated as an undergraduate in Turku in 1729. He was tutor to the family of the priest Henrik Argillander in Kuopio in 1730. While there, he wrote the short text De effectibus fascino naturalibus, about traditional magical customs and rituals in the Kuopio region, providing some of the first evidence for these phenomena in Finland. He developed this material as a doctoral thesis, and was examined in 12 August 1733 by Johan Thorwöste. He was consecrated as a priest in the Diocese of Porvoo on 25 April 1734, and was assistant to the vicar in Helsinki in the same year. He was choirmaster of the grammar school there. He was elected vicar of Mäntasälä in 1741. Still unmarried, at least as of 1743, he held a sinecure in the diocese of Turku in 1749.
Karelia, the land of the Karelian people, is an area in Northern Europe of historical significance for Finland, Russia, and Sweden. It is currently divided among the northwestern Russian Federation and Finland.
Historical Ingria is the geographical area located along the southern shore of the Gulf of Finland, bordered by Lake Ladoga on the Karelian Isthmus in the north and by the River Narva on the border with Estonia in the west.
The history of the institution before the eighteenth century is obscure. The current scholarly consensus, based on comparative anthropological and linguistic evidence, is that Finnic-speaking cultures once shared in a wider central and northern Eurasian tradition of shamanism, most distinctively characterised by ritual specialists being believed to leave their bodies in spirit form. Such people were, in the Proto-Uralic language, probably denoted with the word *nojta (cf. Finnish noita 'witch' and Sámi noaidi ). However, while tietäjä traditions clearly have important characteristics in common with shamanism, tietäjät were not believed to leave their bodies; their supernatural power arose rather from their command of memorised incantations and rituals. It is thought that these aspects of the tradition, and so the institution of the tietäjä as we know it, arose from contact with Germanic-speaking cultures, which exerted huge linguistic influence on Proto-Finnic language, and on other aspects of Finnic culture, in the first millennia BCE and CE. This is not to say that the tietäjä-institution was identical to its Germanic models, nor that it did not then change over time. Further influences, for example, came from later contact with Christianity.
Ethnology is the branch of anthropology that compares and analyzes the characteristics of different peoples and the relationships between them.
Comparative linguistics is a branch of historical linguistics that is concerned with comparing languages to establish their historical relatedness.
Proto-Uralic is the reconstructed language ancestral to the Uralic language family. The language was originally spoken in a small area in about 7000–2000 BCE, and expanded to give differentiated protolanguages. The exact location of the area or Urheimat is not known, and various strongly differing proposals have been advocated, but likewise the vicinity of the Ural Mountains is generally assumed.
Tietäjät also appear in Finnish mythology, the most famous mythological tietäjä being Väinämöinen, 'the mythic founder of the institution', who 'provided an identity model for its practitioners'.In Kalevalaic poetry, he is routinely referred to using the formulaic epithets vaka vanha Väinämöinen, | tietäjä ijän ikuinen ('trusty old Väinämöinen, | the soothsayer old as time').
Finnish mythology is a commonly applied description of the folklore of Finnish paganism, of which a modern revival is practiced by a small percentage of the Finnish people. It has many features shared with fellow Finnic Estonian mythology and other Uralic mythologies, but also shares some similarities with neighbouring Baltic, Slavic and, to a lesser extent, Norse mythologies.
Väinämöinen is a demigod, hero and the central character in Finnish folklore and the main character in the national epic Kalevala. His name comes from the Finnish word väinä, meaning stream pool. Väinämöinen was described as an old and wise man, and he possessed a potent, magical voice.
Ilmarinen, the Eternal Hammerer, blacksmith and inventor in the Kalevala, is a god and archetypal artificer from Finnish mythology. He is immortal and capable of creating practically anything, but is portrayed as being unlucky in love. He is described as working the known metals of the time, including brass, copper, iron, gold and silver. The great works of Ilmarinen include the crafting of the dome of the sky and the forging of the Sampo. His usual epithet in the Kalevala is seppo, a poetic word for "smith". and the source of the given name Seppo.
A riddle is a statement or question or phrase having a double or veiled meaning, put forth as a puzzle to be solved. Riddles are of two types: enigmas, which are problems generally expressed in metaphorical or allegorical language that require ingenuity and careful thinking for their solution, and conundra, which are questions relying for their effects on punning in either the question or the answer.
The Oroqen people are an ethnic group in northern China. They form one of the 56 ethnic groups officially recognized by the People's Republic of China. As of the 2000 Census, 44.54% of the Oroqen lived in Inner Mongolia and 51.52% along the Heilongjiang River (Amur) in the province of Heilongjiang. The Oroqen Autonomous Banner is also located in Inner Mongolia.
Pohjola, sometimes just Pohja, is a location in Finnish mythology. It is one of the two main polarities in the Finnish national epic, the Kalevala, along with Kalevala or Väinölä.
Traditional Sámi spiritual practices and beliefs are based on a type of animism, polytheism, and what anthropologists may consider shamanism. The religious traditions can vary considerably from region to region within Sápmi.
Bjarmaland was a territory mentioned in Norse sagas since the Viking Age and in geographical accounts until the 16th century. The term is usually seen to have referred to the southern shores of the White Sea and the basin of the Northern Dvina River as well as, presumably, some of the surrounding areas. Today, those territories comprise a part of the Arkhangelsk Oblast of Russia, as well as the Kola Peninsula.
The Aarne–Thompson classification system or, since 2004, the Aarne–Thompson–Uther classification system is an index used in folkloristics to organize, classify, and analyze folklore narratives. It is primarily based on the folklore of Europe and Western Asia. The system is named after its creators over successive revisions: Antti Aarne, Stith Thompson, and Hans-Jörg Uther. The system understands folktales as being built out of smaller motifs which have been catalogued separately in Thompson's Motif-Index of Folk-Literature.
Finnish Neopaganism, or the Finnish native faith is the contemporary Neopagan revival of Finnish paganism, the pre-Christian polytheistic ethnic religion of the Finns. A precursor movement was the Ukonusko of the early 20th century. The main problem in the revival of Finnish paganism is the nature of pre-Christian Finnish culture, which relied on oral tradition and of which very little is left. The primary sources concerning Finnish native culture are written by latter-era Christians.
The East Karelian Uprising and the Soviet–Finnish conflict 1921–1922 were an attempt by a group of East Karelian separatists to gain independence from the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. They were aided by a number of Finnish volunteers, starting from November 6, 1921. The conflict ended on March 21, 1922 with the Agreements between the governments of Soviet Russia and Finland about the measures of maintenance of the inviolability of the Soviet–Finnish border. The conflict is regarded in Finland as one of the heimosodat – "Kinship Wars".
Matti Akseli Kuusi was a Finnish folklorist, paremiographer and paremiologist. He wrote several books and a number of articles on Finnish folklore. He was the first to have introduced the type system of proverbs similar to the Aarne–Thompson classification system of folklore, the Matti Kuusi international type system of proverbs. With encouragement from Archer Taylor he founded the journal Proverbium: Bulletin d'Information sur les Recherches Parémiologiques, published from 1965 to 1975 by the Society for Finnish Literature, which was later restarted as Proverbium: International Yearbook of Proverb Scholarship. He was a member of the noble family Granfelt, but his father had fennicized his original Swedish surname to express his political sympathies.
The Finnic peoples or Baltic Finns are Finno-Ugric peoples inhabiting the region around the Baltic Sea in Northern Europe who speak Finnic languages, including the Finns proper, Estonians, Karelians, Veps, Izhorians, Votes, and Livonians, as well as their descendants worldwide. In some cases the Kvens, Ingrians, Tornedalians and speakers of Meänkieli are also included separately rather than as a part of Finns proper.
In Old Norse, seiðr was a type of sorcery practiced in Norse society during the Late Scandinavian Iron Age. The practice of seiðr is believed to be a form of magic relating to both the telling and shaping of the future. Connected with Norse religion, its origins are largely unknown, although it became gradually eroded following the Christianization of Scandinavia. Accounts of seiðr later made it into sagas and other literary sources, while further evidence has been unearthed by archaeologists. Various scholars have debated the nature of seiðr, some arguing that it was shamanic in context, involving visionary journeys by its practitioners.
The corpus of traditional riddles from the Finnic-speaking world is fairly unitary, though eastern Finnish-speaking regions show particular influence of Russian Orthodox Christianity and Slavonic riddle culture. The Finnish for 'riddle' is arvoitus, related to the verb arvata ('guess').