Vainamoinen

Baltic - A Finnish magician-hero. Son of Ilmatar. Brother of Ilmarinen and Lemminkainen. His mother floated in the primordial ocean for 700 years and was made pregnant by Ahti, the god of the waters. It was said that Vainamoinen was so long in the womb that he was an old man when he was born. In some accounts, he also floated in the primordial waters for many years. An eagle laid its egg on his knee and, when it fell off and broke open, the shell became the earth and sky. A similar story is told of his mother, Ilmatar. When Ukko sent fire to earth in the form of a thunderbolt, it was swallowed by a fish. Vainamoinen caught the fish and recovered the fire from its stomach. He fought the giant Joukahainen and buried him chin-deep in a bog. Joukahainen gave him his sister, Aino, as the price for being released but she jumped into the sea rather than marry an old man. He then sought a wife in Pohjola and Louhi promised him her daughter if he would make her a sampo. The daughter also imposed a number of near-impossible tasks, such as tying a knot in an egg, which he failed to complete only because three evil spirits caused him to cut himself with an axe. When building a boat, he recited spells that bound the various parts securely together but, when he came to build a boat (with oak collected by Sampsa Pellervo) as one of the tasks set by Louhi's daughter, he forgot the appropriate words and could find them nowhere on earth, so he went to Tuonela, the underworld. He escaped the clutches of Tuonetar by turning himself into a steel serpent and returned home empty-handed. He next went to Antero Vipunen who swallowed him but Vainamoinen hammered on his heart until the giant released him and told him the magic words he needed to complete the building of the ship. When the ship was finished, he returned to Pohjola where Ilmarinen had made the required sampo. Unhappily, Louhi's daughter had married Ilmarinen in preference to Vainamoinen. He later returned to Pohjola with Ilmarinen and Lemminkainen and stole the sampo but it was broken when Louhi caused a storm that wrecked his ship. He saved some of the fragments of the sampo which alone brought prosperity to the land. In one story he caused a fir-tree to grow until it reached the sky and Ilmarinen climbed the tree in a vain attempt to capture the moon. In another story Vainamoinen played such beautiful music on his kantele that even the sun and moon came down to listen and were captured by the mistress of Pohjola. Vainamoinen found them and released them. He finally left the earth, sailing off in a copper boat. He is credited with the invention of music and the zither. Sometimes referred to as Vainamoinen, Ainemoinen, Ainemoinen, Wainamoinen, Wainamoinen, Estonian Vanemuine or Estonian Vanemuine.

Nearby Myths