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The Kalevala – The Epic Finnish Saga

The Kalevala is truly a gem of Finnish culture, folklore and literature which is one I have been fascinated with for years. It is also perhaps the most famous and republished piece of literature to come out of Finland. The Kalevala is a collection of tales from the creation of the world, stories of Finnish gods and goddesses as well as other figures of the folklore of Finland. I wanted to contribute by sharing this utterly amazing Finnish literature with my readers and explore deeper into its importance and tales. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

The first edition of the Kalevala came out in 1835. Elias Lönnrot compiled it from folk poetry recorded into notebooks during his collection trips among poetry singers in 1828–1834. At the time of publication of the Kalevala, Finland was an autonomous grand duchy, and before that, until 1809, Finland was part of the Swedish Kingdom. Especially for Finnish intellectuals, the Kalevala became a symbol of the Finnish past, the Finnish language and Finnish culture, a foundation on which they started to build the fragile Finnish identity. It also aroused much interest abroad, and brought a small, unknown people to the awareness of other Europeans.

The effect of the Kalevala on Finnish culture, arts and sciences has been significant. It has left its mark on the fine arts, literature, theater, dance and music. It lives on in popular culture, films, comics, games and commercials. During different periods, the Kalevala has been significant in different ways, and has given birth to different, strong interpretations. SOURCE (Finnish)

This is my personal copy I have in my library which is beautifully done with fantastic illustrations. Highly recommended.

Not so long ago, in the tiny, isolated villages of Finland, where prolonged summer days gave way to endless winter nights, people would pass the time by singing the many adventures of their favorite heroes: the mighty, magical men and women of ancient days.

They sang of old Vainamoinen, greatest of sages and magicians, who helped create the world but never could find a woman to wed him.

They sang of his friend and ally Ilmarinen, first among craftsmen, the blacksmith who forged the dome of the heavens.

They sang of Louhi, the ancient lady of Northland, whose crafty wit and magical powers made her a worthy opponent for Vainamoinen himself.

And they sang of Aila, Louhi’s lovely daughter, who captured the hopes of the two old friends and drew them as rivals to the shores of Northland.

And while these songs could still be heard, there came along a doctor, a scholar, who gathered and wove them together in a book he called the Kalevala. And so he created for Finns a national epic, and for the rest of the world, a work of wonder.

The songs endure, the heroes live. . . .

– from The Songs of Power: A Northern Tale of magic. Retold by Aaron Shepherd from the Kalevala

Further Resources

Full text of “The Kalevala : the epic poem of Finland”

The Kalevala – The Beginning of Beer in the Finnish Epic Saga

Tolkien and the Kalevala

Kalevala is Finland’s national epic. Compiled by Elias Lönnrot in the 1800s, it consists of epic poems of creation, magic, lust, vengeance and death. A story of the sons of Kaleva, the forefather of Finns, it takes the reader to a mythical ancient land filled with monsters and magic, and even to the realm of the dead. Be sure to check more from Antti Palosaari.
Veera Voima is a Finnish folk singer who specializes in rune singing. Her project “Myths of Making” is based on the birth myths of Kalevala. This is a short version of her song “Raudan Synty” (The Origin of Iron).
The Kalevala: the Epic Poem of Finland (Crawford Translation) by Elias LÖNNROT (1802 – 1884), translated by John Martin CRAWFORD (1845 – 1916) Genre(s): Poetry, Sagas Part 2 and Part 3
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The Story of Ragnhildr Hrólfsdóttir

There are a number of Women who’s stories are mentioned in the Sagas of the Viking Age that I find quite fascinating and one of these Women is Hildr also known as Ragnhildr Hrólfsdóttir. Her story is wrapped into several Sagas which I will include in this blog post along with some videos I highly recommend regarding this subject. I do plan to post of other key female figures of the Sagas but for now here is the tales of this lady.

According to the sagas, Hild was the daughter of Rolv Nefia (Hrólfr nefja) jarl at Trondhjem (modern day Trondheim). In the Orkneyinga saga, the daughter of Rolv Nefia was called Ragnhild, although in the Heimskringla she was called Hild. Her father used to go on Viking expeditions. One summer he plundered in Vík. This aroused king Harald Fairhair’s anger and he was banished. Hild appealed unsuccessfully for clemency for her father. On this occasion she composed a scaldic stanza (lausavísa), which is one of the few testimonies of scaldic poetry composed by a woman that has come down to us.

She was married to Rognvald Eysteinsson (Ragnvald Øysteinsson Mørejarl) who was the jarl of Møre. They had three sons: Ívarr, Þórir and Hrólfr. Thorir (Þórir) succeeded his father as jarl of More. Rolv (Hrólfr), nicknamed Gange-Rolv, became known as Rollo of Normandy. The death of Ivar (Ívarr) during an earlier campaign in support of King Harald Finehair resulted in the Northern Isles (Norðreyar) being gifted to his family as compensation. According to the Historia Norvegiae, Rognvald’s family conquered Orkney and Shetland islands in the late ninth century.

The Orkneyinga saga

The Saga of Olaf Haraldson

Lausavísa — Hildr

Lausavísa: Hildr Hrólfsdóttir nefju

Ragnhild Hildr Hrolfsdottir

Landnámabók


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The Völsunga Saga

Certainly one of the if not the most important and famous of all the Norse Sagas is indeed the Völsunga Saga (Volsunga Saga or Volsungasaga). This is a saga that I feel everyone who is spiritually invested or are devoted to the beliefs of Norse Paganism should have included in their library. The tales in it are extremely fascinating, well written and truly paint visual image of such Gods as Odin and Loki as well as the deeds of man such as Sigurd the dragon Slayer. This saga is comprised of 44 stories and each just as good as the next.

Based on Viking Age poems and composed in thirteenth-century Iceland, The Saga of the Volsungs combines mythology, legend, and sheer human drama in telling of the heroic deeds of Sigurd the dragon slayer, who acquires runic knowledge from one of Odin’s Valkyries. Yet the saga is set in a very human world, incorporating oral memories of the fourth and fifth centuries, when Attila the Hun and other warriors fought on the northern frontiers of the Roman empire. Get your copy here

My personal copy of the Völsunga Saga

Further resources

http://www.voluspa.org/volsungsaga.htm

https://sites.pitt.edu/~dash/volsungsaga.html