Mythic Images & Shamanism, IV

p. 125 terms for ‘soul’

"The Mansi is means a shadow (... but also ... the guise and ghost of a dead person).

The Finnish term itse has ... become specialised to mean "consciousness, mind"."

"In Estonian, leil means spirit and life, in Sami liewl’la means the sauna steam, ... spirit and soul, .... the corresponding word in Khanty means life and strength of mind, and the Hungarian le’lek signifies soul and spirit."

"the word lo:yly (modern Finnish : "sauna steam")."

abodes of the dead




"Pohjola (the Land of the North),


Hiitola (the Hiisi’s abode) and ...


Manala ... from the words maan alla ("underground") ..."


"the people living along the Lena, Ob, and Yenisei imagined that the realm of the dead could be reached through whirlpool-like openings at the mouths of these rivers."


"Each family thus had its own village of the dead, located on various tributaries of the river leading to the lower world ..."

p. 142 journey to the other world (according to the Norwegian Draum-kvaedet epic)

"With his horse, accompanied by his dog, he went "through briar and thorn" ...


"Who gives shoes to the needy will not have to walk on the thorny moor;

He came to the Gjallar Bridge "so high up in the air" decked all with red gold and gold pinnacles.


who gives a poor man a cow will not "trip or swoon" on the Gjallar Bridge;

A serpent, a dog,


who gives the poor man bread will have no fear of the fierce dog’s bark;

and a bull were there "fierce and wroth" to prevent his crossing. [He], however, went across the bridge and also waded a "miry marsh, where a foot never finds a hold". The bridge ... was fitted with "sharp hooks in a row", and the marsh was stinking.


who gives the poor man corn need not fear the bull’s horn;

He then came to the lonely lakes where "the glittering ice burns blue" ..."


who gives clothes to the needy will not be afraid of the glacier."

p. 146 Karelian travel over sharp objects to [Ingrian] Tuoni, [Karelisan] Tuonela

SKVR 4:2:1913 [Ingrian]


SKVR 1:1:401a [Karelian]

"Along the points of needles,


"First one must run along a track,

Of women’s needle-points,

Along axe-blades".


The second track which must be run

Is that of men’s sword-blades".

p. 147 boots are worn by souls of the dead in order to protect their feet from the sharp objects

"according to archeological finds, even in the prehistoric era,

it was the custom for Scandinavians to equip the dead with boots. ...

Into the grave of a Yakut .... went ... boots ... so that he could

travel the road strewn with icicles leading to the other world.

The dead Ingrian departing for Tuoni also needed boot to protect his feet ..."

clambering onto mountain or hill





"The Russians believed that nails are needed in climbing the glass mountain of the other world;

In the Aztec journey to Mictlan, the soul of the dead must "3) climb an obsidian mountain" (AM)


the Mordvins of Saratov area conceived of heaven as a crystal mountain ... Anyone seeking to enter .... would have to uuse his or her nails in climbing the slippery mountain. ...


in Vermland, Sweden, ... There was one hill they called Horna’s hill, across which ran the Horna rapids. Just as those who moved away went to Seedland, so their bones were ground to dust and went to Seedland ...

And they had to travel through cold and hot, ... wildernesses and waterfalls, over Horna’s rapids. ... Then they cried for help, the cry we can still hear when our ears ring."

The bones of the death from Mictlan were ground into powder by Quetzal-coatl (MM).

AM =

MM =

pp. 159-160 the cosmic order & its centre






(Birth of Fire)

"Then there dropped a fiery spark

Through the earth, through Manala,

Through the mountain’s copper ridge,

Through its iron slope,

Through six vaults of many colours".



(Witches’ Shot)

"To a mighty mountain slope,

On which grew a frightful tree, ...

Broad with foliage :

It blocked the sun from shining,

Barred the moon from beaming ...



Now the oak has fallen,

Across Pohjola’s river

To serve as a bridge to the timeless place, ...

To Pohjola, the murky place,

To the man-eating village".

pp. 161-162 Pohjola






"Before the gates of Pohjola, ...

There the red pines roll roots up,

The pines fall crown-foremost

Into the mouth of the maelstrom’s current."



"the Mistress of Pohjola, that is Louhi or Loviatar is mentioned as being the daughter of Tuoni :

"Loviatar, elderly wife

most evil of Tuoni’s daughters

most cruel of the Manala women ..."."



Pohjola containeth :

"North’s Blacky, the black dog,

The cur with iron bristles,

With a fiery throat and iron teeth,

With bronze bowels in his belly,

And a windpipe of copper".

{This description may possibly resolve the conflict between Chinese (Daoist) variant descriptions of the hound of the netherworld, sometimes described as composed of iron and sometimes as composed of copper.}

pp. 162-163 Hiitola, the realm of Hiisi




"Hiitola ... contains the fiery rapids and

mountain of the Hiisi; ...

a Hiisi-horse,

a Hiisi-elk,

a Hiisi cat,

a Hiisi ox,

a Hiisi bird (= bee),

a Hiisi-eye (= lizard) ..."


"in poems about wooing, ...

Pohjola tends to dominate in Archangel Karelia,

Hiitola in Ladoga Karelia

and Tuoni in Ingria."


"In his list of "gods", Mikael Agricola mentions

Tapio as the giver of game in the Ha:me region,

paralleled by Hiisi, the keeper of the forest, in Karelia."


"For according to Agricola,

"Tapio brought game to the trapper" ..., whereas

"Hiisi helped hunters to get big game". ...

Tapio was the benevolent forest keeper

acting as the patron of trappers, while

Hiisi was appealed to when setting out

to hunt down large game animals or,

as Agricola calls them, "forest folk" (metsa:la:iset)."

p. 166 places of arising of modes of conveyance used by Louhi

the __

arose from __


the earth

Syo:ja:tta:r (‘devouress’)

the sea


the waves

pp. 166-167 the 2 journeys by Thorkillus, according to the 8th book of the Historia Danorum by Saxo Grammmaticus






LSM, pp. 63-65; RH, pp. 185-186; OW, pp. 67-68


journey to seek the treasures of Gerutus (Geirro,dr) :-


"Thorkillus and his three hundred men travel


past Halogaland to


a land of infinite darkness, Bjarmaland, and


there discover the kingdom of Gudmundr,


next to which, across a river, lies

the kingdom of giants and monsters ruled by Geruthus.


Gudmundr, the brother of Geruthus,

gives them a hospitable reception and

offers his services as a guide.

The guests see the river, spanned by a golden bridge.

Gudmundr tells them that the bridge leads to

a land of monsters which no mortal may enter unharmed.


He then invites the Danes to dine in his house.

Thorkillus forbids his men to touch the food and drink

and to speak to the local inhabitants.

Four of the Danes are nevertheless seduced

by the maidens and go mad;

some of the men flee from the feast.


When Gudmundr fails to persuade the Danes

to taste his sumptuous food,

he takes them to the kingdom of Geruthus,

again reached only by crossing the river. ...


The entrance to the fort is guarded by raving hounds

and there are warriors’ heads impaled

on the stakes surrounding it.

The portals ... are impossible to open.


Thorkillus nevertheless overcomes the hounds

by giving them a horn smothered with grease

and the portals by climbing over them with a ladder.

{cf. climbing via ladder into the City of Brass

in the distant west, in the tale in the 1001 Nights.}


Arriving on the other side, ...

in the midst of ... the darkness,

the snakes writhing up the walls

and the roofs made of speartips,

the terrified men see the riches

and the inhabitants ... lifelessly with one another.

{cf. the lifeless inhabitants of the City of Brass}


Geruthus himself, piereced by a spear, is seated

beside three women with broken backs.


Barrels are bursting with gold, silver chains,

splendid drinking horns and

necklaces weighed down with gold and precious stones.

Upon being touched, the treasures

turn into snakes or weapons that kill the intruders.



Finally, just as the lavish garments in a side chamber

catch Thorkillus’ eye and

he takes hold of a magnificent cape,

the entire dwelling comes to life.



There follows a raging battle, from which

Thorkillus manages to escape with twenty of his men.


Even on the ferry, a Dane

who has fallen under the charm of Gudmundr’s daughter

loses his life when he falls into the river."



LSM, p. 70; RH, p. 187; OW, p. 68


journey to the realm of U`t-garda-Loki :-


"to a dark, rocky country

with snakes writhing around iron thrones

and caves in which the men must wade

across a river covering the cave floor.


In a dwelling full of shadows

the adventurers meet Utgardaloki,

who is fettered with mighty chains.


Poisonous snakes kill many of Thorkillus’ men

as they try to escape."

LSM = Anna Birgitta Rooth : Loki in Scandinavian Mythology. Lund, 1961.

RH = Hilda Roderick Eillis : The Road to Hel. Westport : Greenwood Pr, 1977.

OW = Howard Rollin Patch : The Other World. Harvard U. Pr, 1950.

pp. 167-168 journeys to Bjarmaland [Perm] in Sturlaugs Saga & Bo`sa Saga




Sturlaugs Saga


"he hero is sent on his journey to seek

a poisonous horn that is kept in a temple;

he travels to a northerly region called Hundingjaland

and on the way has to battle trolls."


Bo`sa Saga


On his way back from a raid in which

he hath joined Herraudr the king of eastern Gaut-land,

Bo`si "kills the king’s son coming from the east

but is pardoned on condition that

he fetches the golden-lettered egg of the giant gam bird."


A maiden seduced by Bo`si "reveals where the gam egg is hidden.

In the forest is a shrine to the Bjarmian god Jo`mali

guarded by the king’s mother Kolfrosta,

an ox with magical powers and

the cruel gam bird sitting on the egg they seek.


The heroes manage to enter the temple in disguise,

kill Kolfrosta and the gam bird,

nail the ox by its horns to the wall,

free the imprisoned king’s daughter and

return to Go:tland taking with them gold, furs and the gam egg.


Soon they and a third hero, Smidr (a smith) sail off again

to fetch the king’s daughter,

whom her brother is trying to marry to the wrong man.


They arrive at the wedding and

secretly transport her to their ship"

in Bo`si’s "miraculous harp.


On the ship a fight ensues;

Smidr strikes his worst enemy with his magic sword,

who then turns into a flying dragon,

showers the men with poison and swallows Smidr.


The dragon is nevertheless attacked by both a giant bird and

Smidr’s foster mother, the witch Busla in the guise of a legendary bitch."

{cf. the bitch (GM 168.n) Hekabe}

pp. 184-185 places whither to banish disease






"to the Mountains blue,

where neither Sun nor Moon is shining."


SKVR 7:4:1740

"Across nine seas, And half a tenth,

Between two cliffs, Into a steel mountain; ...

Into a landlocked pond’s water lily. ...

Into Rutja’s raging rapids".

p. 188 pains are banished :-

"inside a blue rock",

"through a multi-coloured rock",

"underneath a flat stone",

"to cliffs of iron",

"into an iron mountain’s crevasse".

p. 189 (SKVR 1:2:781) fiery beings encountered by Lemminka:inen

"In that place are fiery rapids,

In the rapids a fiery island,

On the island a fiery birch,

In the birch a fiery eagle".

p. 190 (SKVR 1:1:35) how Va;ina:mo:inen clave asunder the rock

"old Va:ina:mo:inen ...

On a blue elk’s back,

On a horse made of pea-stalks. ...

Caressed the horse’s head.

He said, and islands appeared,

The lands, continents were said into being,

He wrote a rune upon the stone,

Drew a line upon the rock ... :

The stone was split into two ...

There was an adder drinking beer,

A snake was sipping maltwort

Inside the blue stone ...

He tore off the snake’s body,

Ripped off the black worm’s head,

So that rivers began to run

With the black blood of snakes, ...

From it grew a handsome oak".

p. 191 "Odin, who possesses the shamanistic power of metamorphosis, slithers in the guise of a snake inside a rock to drink mead."

SKVR = Suomen Kansan Vanhat Runot I-VIV. Helsinki, 1908-1948.

FOLKLORE FELLOWS COMMUNICATIONS, Vol CXXX, No. 280 = Anna-Leena Siikala : Mythic Images and Shamanism. Helsinki : Academia Scientarum Fennica, 2002. pp. 121-194.