Folk-Lore/Volume 3/An Analysis of Certain Finnish Myths of Origin

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IF such branches of knowledge as zoology, botany, and geology were confined to a study of the external surfaces of animals, plants, and the outer crust of the earth, without taking note of the skeleton, of the internal structure, or of the underlying strata, our knowledge would be vastly curtailed — would be of comparatively little account. There is ground, therefore, for supposing that the analysis of the internal structure of a set of origin-stories will not be wholly useless. Several reasons suggest themselves for selecting for this purpose the group of origins taken from the magic songs of the Finns, which have appeared in various issues of Folk-Lore. Their number is considerable. Including variants and other versions, they amount to one hundred and thirty-five, embracing fifty-one different subjects. They all belong to one country and people, are all couched in the same ballad metre, exhibit the same imagery and treatment, and belong, so far as their external form is concerned, to one period, and that a modern one. Though there are nearly fifty more Finnish prose origins, I have not included them, as some are clearly importations from over the border and their general character and style is quite different from the metrical ones. For instance, a considerable number describe metamorphoses from men into animals, generally as a punishment, a mode of origination which is not found in the metrical origins, though it is true such transformations are not unknown in the Kalevala.

The analysis about to be submitted to you is not of the same kind as that employed by our Society in analysing folk-tales. It is more abstract. My object has been rather to lay bare the mental process by stripping off every particle of individuality till nothing is left but a formless, though still a differentiated residuum. Reduced to this state, we can view in a small compass the different threads of thought, twenty-seven in number, on which smaller groups of origins are strung. When arranged in systematic order, they form a series, progressing from those that consist of one central thought, of one single germ, to others that exhibit various degrees or modes of development by means of an accompanying narrative. And in order to show the universality of these threads of thought or categories, as we may now call them, they have been illustrated, whenever I could do so, by examples drawn from the origin-stories and myths of other peoples in different parts of the world. Though it must not for a moment be supposed that all known origins can be compressed into twenty-seven categories. That is very far from being the case.

Each category, expressed in about a couple of lines, consists generally of two parts: (i) The central thought, such as S. (any subject), originates from O. (an object); and (2) the drift of the narrative in its bearing upon S. or O. With one exception, the case in which a given subject is created by God, the central thought possesses two terms. First, the subject, such as wolf, snake, oak; secondly, the parents from which it is born, or the inanimate object from which it originates. Further, there must be mentioned one very important factor which is inherent in the nature of the subject and object, and that is their likeness or unlikeness to each other. It is evident that, when the idea of seeking for the origin of anything entered the mind, that the imagination, starting from a given subject, had to find either suitable parents, or an object of some kind from which to derive it. The mind had to pass in rapid review the stores laid up in the memory, and to make choice therefrom. Now, one interesting result of this analysis shows that in about eighty-five per cent, of instances the mind has consciously selected either parents or an inanimate object in which it was able to trace some similarity with the subject from which it set out.[1] But this likeness is not necessarily external and physical : it is often quite indirect and subjective ; or, if the origin results from an action, the likeness is to be found either in the agent, or in the result of the action. The instances in which there is no apparent resemblance between subject and object, or the parents from which it is born, only amount to about ten per cent. The second part of the category, when there is one, gives the general drift of the preliminary narrative solely with regard to its direct reference to the first part, which, in fact, follows it, and forms the dénouement. It often happens these references are mere hints, but they show that the narrator was gradually working up to a finale, of which he had a clear picture in his mind. For there are origin-stories in which the previous incidents are quite irrelevant to the conclusion, and the origin appears to be merely the result of a chance thought.

In so far as they have all been collected within the last hundred years, all these origin-stories are modern. But though their dress belongs to recent times, many of the ideas they embody diverge so greatly from the modern standard of physical law and of reason, that some of them may be regarded as survivals from an older stage of mental development. Though the word survival strictly connotes the notion of uninterrupted continuity between its extreme terms, it does not involve any exact notion of length. Survivals may therefore be of different lengths or ages. If a line A Z be taken to represent the earliest possible survival down to the present time, then F Z, S Z, V Z will represent shorter ones, the alphabetical distance of F, S, V from Z showing their relative distances from that point. Unfortunately, it is impossible to determine solely by an à priori argument which survivals have a length S Z and which a length V Z. The difficulty lies in deciding whether the mental state of people between the periods S and V had been at such a standstill that the author of an origin in the latter period thought exactly as if he had lived in the former period, or whether he was merely imitating an old type when giving expression to a whimsical fancy with full consciousness that it was so. For it cannot be doubted that the Finns in their mental creations of later times, after contact with more civilised peoples, did employ tropes and metaphors in their poetry merely as ornament, without intending them to be taken literally. The wide diffusion and popularity of riddles also proves that very quaint metaphors were in the mouths of the people, who used them in joke, and not in earnest. A regular law, too, of development requires a transition period between the strange beliefs they must have held before they occupied Finland, and those which they hold now. During such a stage, some persons would take a marvellous statement as matter of fact ; others, possessed of more insight, would understand it as a humorous or poetical figure of speech.

Though à priori reasoning is unavailing by itself, yet, combined with other data, we are sometimes able to assign to some origin-stories an approximate date. Taking into consideration that, in the life and imagination of a race of hunters like the early Finns, animals must have played a greater rôle than they did in later times, we may perhaps assume this : that, when an animal origin is ascribed to a subject in some stories, and a non-animal origin in others of similar type, the former belongs to a rather older stratum of thought, or to a survival of greater length. For instance: 1. In one version of the cowhouse snake's origin (41d)[2] this is attributed to the slaver of a wolf running along the ice, which fell on a pike swimming under the ice. The slaver drifts ashore, is picked up by a girl, and carried to a cowhouse, where it becomes a snake. 2. In one version of the snake's origin (11a) this is attributed to the saliva which fell from the mouth of a sleeping Hiisi, or Devil. An ogress swallows it, and finding it too hot, spits it out on the sea. It drifts ashore, is hardened into a spiral form, and then Hiisi gives it life. 3. A fir-tree also originates from the hair of a wolf running along the ice, from the tooth of a pike swimming under the ice. A hair falls off, a girl picks it up and plants it, with the root-end in the ground. It then turns into a fir (23c). 4. In a variant (23d), a fir-tree originates from the tooth of a pike caught by a son of the Death-god. The tooth falls on the grass, and from it grew a fir. 5. On the other hand, an oak (22d) originates from the tooth of a comb, or the bristle of a brush which broke off while a dark, shaven-headed girl was combing and brushing her hair.

As the word for oak is a loan-word from a Slav language, as the conception savours more of home than of forest life, and the more modern brush is introduced, as well as the older comb, there is some reason for considering this fifth story younger than the third and fourth. From the similarity of the opening, and the animal-origin common to both, the first and third may be considered older than the second. From a general likeness between the third and fourth, they may be classed together, and, therefore, with the first, all which are therefore older than the second and fifth. But the word for cowhouse-snake in the first is a Russian loan-word, and probably the notion of a cow-house-snake as well. So the third and fourth will not be older than when this borrowing took place, and all the five origins, though they belong to two or three periods, are none of them really archaic, though the lengths of their survivals may be measured by hundreds of years. One more group of variants may be touched upon to show the hesitation one may feel at necessarily attributing to archaic times — and by that I mean before the Finns came in contact with European races — a mode of origin which, on the face of it, seems to belong to that epoch. It must be remembered that the following words, on which much depends, are importations from without: Bride and salmon are old loans from the Lithuanian; iron, gold, and churn are from the Gothic, or from old Scandinavian ; while the suffix -tar, in 'Luonnotar', is from one of these three extraneous sources. In one of the origins of iron (25e), three maidens, all of them brides, are engendered in a bubbling spring from the spawn of a golden fish, from the thrust[3] of a salmon, and become the origin of iron ore. Now, undoubtedly, one is tempted, at first sight, to remit such a conception to archaic times. In a variant, all three Luonnotars (daughters of nature) are evolved from Jesus rubbing his two hands together. In another version (25b) the three maiden brides simply grow upon an island, and afterwards shed their milk on the ground, from which sprouts of iron grew up. In a fourth version (25a) it is Ukko, the creative god that dwells in the air, who produces the three daughters of nature to be mothers of iron ore by rubbing his two hands together on the top or end of his left knee. I take this to mean that he was seated, and that, resting his left hand on his left knee, he rubbed with his right hand. This is very much the motion of grinding with a quern, where the lower stone is fixed and the upper one rotates. The fact of seeing meal, or perhaps fire, generated, so to speak, from a handmill, may have given rise to a figure of speech, by which living beings were developed from rubbing the hands together. For this is not an uncommon mode of generation in Finnish poetry, and also occurs in a prose origin. This being so, while origination fron:i fish-spawn is unique in Finnish origin-stories, it is fair to assume that the latter, in spite of its apparent antiquity, is only a variant, and was purposely substituted for the commoner version. The first question to solve, then, is, What connection in idea exists between rubbing the hands and a fish spawning? The second is to explain how the substitution of one mode of origination by the other took place.

The association of ideas between handrubbing and a fish spawning lay in this: that one suggested the notion of grinding with a mill, while the other gave the idea of churning. It will be allowed that these two actions are not so very dissimilar; at least, that there is no antithesis between them. That rubbing the hands in the way I have suggested is not at all unlike rubbing two small millstones together is obvious. That a fish spawning evoked the notion of churning is proved by three Finnish riddles, which run as follows: "A golden salmon spawns on a narrow knoll, the spawn splutters on the top." "A salmon spawns among rapids, the milt splatters on the top." "A golden bream is spawning, the spawn plashes on the top." The answer to all is the same : " The butter which rises to the top in churning." (Arvoituksia, Nos. 754, 755, 662.) The full meaning is this : The butterdash inside a churn full of milk is compared to a golden salmon or bream plashing about in the water, and discharging spawn, which is likened to butter. From this it is evident that, to anyone who knew the riddles — and riddles are very numerous and popular in Finland — churning and spawning were distinctly associated. Hence, to see anyone at work churning, might recall the idea of a fish milting. An objection may be raised that in the origin-story three maiden brides are produced from spawn as an additional action, while in the riddles the action ends with producing spawn, which is used metaphorically as the equivalent of butter. The answer is, that the author of the salmon-spawn variant could not change the final result of the action, which required that three maiden brides, or three Luonnotars, should be produced somehow or other, to be mothers of iron. What he did do, was to substitute the mode of action by which they were originated from one by rubbing or grinding to one by churning. And the fact that he derives them mediately from the spawn, and not immediately from the fish, tends to show that the notion of churning had passed through his mind. There are other reasons for supposing that he was not thinking of a real salmon, and that is the use of the words hete and lähde, to indicate the place in which it was spawning. The first means the water under a quaking bog, a boggy pool, a spring of water; the second means a source or spring of water. Therefore neither of them are places in which a salmon, or, indeed, any fish, could really be found; though either, in riddle language, are quite appropriate, from the confined area they imply, to stand for a churn. Further, the word 'thrust' is not a very fitting parallel word for 'spawn' ; but if he was thinking of a butterdash, it would be perfectly congruous.

The second question for solution is, to explain how origination by handrubbing was substituted for one suggestive of churning. I imagine this to have been done simply by the author of the variant happening to see a churn, or hear it working just at the moment when he was about to recite the birth of the mothers of iron. If he knew the riddles — which is likely enough — the sight or sound of a churn would readily evoke in his mind the thought of a milting fish, and this he could easily interweave into his incantation as an impromptu variation. The origin of iron was recited over anyone who had received a wound from an iron instrument, and therefore, in most instances, the recitation would take place in a farmhouse : for a wounded person would naturally return or be carried home, to be treated there, and to allow of a wizard being sent for.

But if all that I have adduced is rejected as merely plausible, we must fall back upon the argument from loan-words. The idea then for which we have to find an approximate date may be worded as follows: "Three maidens, all of them brides, were engendered from the spawn of a golden salmon to be mothers of iron." Striking out the words 'brides', 'golden salmon', and 'iron', the statement becomes: " (Three) girls were engendered from the spawn of a fish." Undoubtedly such a notion may have been current among the early Finns in archaic times (though this cannot be affirmed with certainty), but the longer theme cannot be older than the introduction of the word for iron — a really essential word, since it is bound up with the ultimate purpose of the whole act. Rauta (iron) belongs to the older series of loan-words, and may therefore have been put in circulation quite early in the present era, together with its origin. But, nevertheless, the origin itself cannot be ascribed to the archaic period in the sense I have defined it above, as the metal was then unknown. And my own impression is, that it does not coincide in date with the first introduction of iron among the Finns, but is a good deal later.

There are many other interesting points that might be discussed with reference to these origin-stories, but to do so would be to digress from the main object in view. I shall therefore pass on at once to the analysis proper. As it is convenient sometimes to employ abbreviations for the sake of greater conciseness, the following will be used : S. stands for any inanimate subject; L. S. for a living subject, the origin of which is sought ; O. for any inanimate object; F. M. for father and mother: when either letter is in italics, that particular parent is inanimate from the modern point of view; B. stands for birthplace. In the brief summary of the narrative, the words that hint at, or have some special bearing upon S., F., M., or O., are sometimes in italics.

1. S. or L. S. is born of F. M. or M. The character of the parents is reflected in L. S. (No narrative.) Thus the snail, a term which seems to include other noisome creatures, is the offspring of the son of the Death-god and the daughter of Pain (14). And Bloody Flux, Scab, and Pestilence, all of them injuries wrought by spells, are the children of a parish harlot (43e).

The following foreign example belongs apparently to this or to the next category. The Khalka Mongols of the Eastern Altai believe that the father of the Berset race was a wolf, living in a wood by a lake, with whom lived a reindeer. From them was born a son, the ancestor of the Bersets.[4] Probably these Mongols see some resemblance of character between themselves and wolves.

2a. S. or L. S. is born of F. M. or M. The character of the parents is reflected in (L.) S. Descriptive points in the narrative hint at the nature, general character, or habitat of (L.) S. For instance, skin-eruption is born of a water Hiisi who had been rowing in a copper boat, and reached land like a strawberry (34b), which looks like a hint at the redness of the skin in some skin-diseases. Cancer is the son of a furious, iron-toothed old woman, who swaddled him in bloody garments and finally sent him to destroy and corrupt human flesh (30). Rickets, Worms, Cancerous Sore, Sharp Frost, and many other injuries from spells, are the result of a union between the daughter of Sharp Spikes and a bearded sea-monster or giant (43c). The mention of the mother going first to the Hill of Pain in hopes of being confined there, and then to Pohjola, the home of witchcraft and gloom, where she finally brings to birth, hint at the evil nature of these maladies, coming as they do from such an ill-omened birthplace. Other examples are the Wolf (10c), Rickets (32a), Scab (33), Fire (42d), Courts of Law (44), Water (51b, d).

The Kirghis of Tarbagatai relate that three women in their labour clutched — the first, the earth ; the second, a tree ; the third, the mane of a horse. From the first was born the Chinaman, whose land is vast and whose people is numerous ; from the second, the Russian, whose forests are many, and whose people are numerous ; from the third, the Kasak, who has little hair on the head, and is but a small people.[5]

2b. S. or L. S. is born of F. M. or F. The character of the parents is reflected in L. S. A single remark or several descriptive points in the narrative hint at the nature, habits, or habitat of (L.) S.

This is a variant of the above, the only difference being that the father is inanimate from our point of view. Thus the dog (5a) is the result of the union of the lowest class of the women of Pohjola and the Wind. To account for the dog's hunting propensities, he is swaddled and cradled by the old wife of the Forest. His domesticity results from having had his teeth rubbed with honey by the best girl in Pohjola. Having Wind for a father of course accounts for his fleetness of foot. The snake is the child of the girl of Death who is made his own by the East Wind as she lay asleep on a meadow (iie). That this was done unawares was probably intended to point to the crafty nature and perhaps the habitat of snakes. Many maladies which are induced by spells are the children of Louhiatar, who swallowed some iron groats which had been pounded by the Death-god's daughter (43d, and thus originated them. The remark that she gave birth to them in the bloody hut of Hiisi's home, hints at their horrible nature, as it indicates a fiendish birthplace. Other examples are the Lizard (13a). Fire (42f), Injuries from Spells (43a, b), Sharp Frost (49b).

In the following North American example the difference is that L. S. originates from F. M. instead of F. M. The Tsimshians of British Columbia believe that man is born from a union between the Raven-god and an Elderberry bush. After the Raven-god had formed the world, and every living creature but man, he decided to make a race endowed with qualities that would allow them to have dominion over the whole world, a race that could claim him as a father. He, therefore, ingerminated a stone and an elderberry bush at the same time. If the bush should happen to produce first, people would have nails on their fingers and toes, and would in time die ; if the stone, they would be covered with scales and would not die. The bush produced first, and consequently people have nails, are subject to sorrow and sickness, and finally to death.[6]

3. L. S. is born of F. M. Inconsequentially its members are made of all sorts of contemptuous or ridiculous objects.

Thus the bear's father and mother are called Bearworts, but yet the old wife of the North made his head out of a knoll, his back from a pine, his teeth from stone, his ears from the stuffing of a shoe (3d). Though the dog is the child of eight fathers and one mother, yet the Earth's wife made him a head from a knoll, his legs of stakes, his ears of water-lily leaves, his gums and nose of the East Wind (5b). So, too, the lizard, though its father and mother are both called Brisks, yet it is made of birchwood, of aspen fungus, etc., jumbled up together and poked under a pile of wood — its usual habitat (13c).

4. L. S. is born of F. M. A mere statement of fact.

The cabbage-worm has a blue butterfly for its father and mother (18). The pig's mother is called Sow, and its father Snouty. The origins of the lizard (13d, e) are obscure, but seem to belong to this category.

5. S. is born of F. M. Descriptive poiyits in the narrative account for the nature and character of S.

Sharp Frost is born near a lump of ice, of an ever-devastating father and a breastless mother, by reason of which he had to be suckled by a snake, nourished by hard weather, and rocked to sleep by the North Wind (49a).

According to an Uigur legend, a famous hero, Pukia Khan, was born from a tree which seems to have been ingerminated by a wonderful light which was seen to shine on the tree before it began to swell.[7]

6. S. is born of F. M. No apparent likeness between parents and offspring. Its epithets explain its nature.

A swelling on the neck, with the epithets 'horror of the earth' and 'Lempo's whore', is the offspring of Mist both on the father's and mother's side (36). A stone, the son of Kimmo Kammo and his wife, is termed 'the heart's-core of an ogress', 'a slice of Mammotar's liver', 'the spleen of a ploughed field', 'the liver of dry land' (50a). Another version (50b) is too obscure to classify, but appears to refer to a reddish stone of supposed meteoric origin, like the 'Herrgottsteine' of the Swabians.

8. S. or L. S. originated, generated, made from O. Some sort of likeness, often very slight, is found between them. (No appropriate narrative.)

For instance, the likeness between a wasp's sting and a hair suggested the origin of the wasp from a woman's hair (19). The viper, when thought of with regard to length, general shape, and flexibility, originates from a stony thread spun by the Maiden of Night (23a) ; but when pictured as coiled up it is generated from a ring (12b). The resemblance between flakes of rusty iron and scab suggested the idea of deriving the former from the scab formed on a man that had been badly burnt (25d). It is a common incident in folk-tales in many parts of the world that a comb thrown down under certain circumstances becomes an impenetrable forest. So it is not surprising that an oak should spring up from the tooth of a comb that broke off while a dark girl with smooth head was combing her hair (22d). Other examples are Man (1), Toothworm (37a), Cowhouse-snake (41a, b).

Other origin-myths may be brought under this formula, such as the creation of the earth and sky from the lower and upper parts of a broken egg, as described in the old and new Kalevala[8]. In the Vafthrudnis-mal the earth is made from Ymir's flesh, the mountains from his bones, the heavens from his skull, the sea from his blood, the clouds from his brains[9]. A legend from Mähren in Austria relates that rivers take their origin from the tears shed by a giant's wife as she lamented his death.[10] In a Tatar story the hop-plant originates from the bowstring of a man that had been turned into a bear.[11] The Andaman islanders relate that trees originated from the arrows which Tomo, the first man, shot off after stringing flies to them[12] (9). Though there is a narrative attached to some of these examples, it has no bearing upon the final dénouement.

8. S. originated from O. No external or other likeness between them. (No proper narrative.)

There is only one example. Pleurisy, fever, inflammation — for all these are covered by the Finnish word — originated from the mist and fog sifted out by the Mist and Fog maiden at the end of a misty promontory (35e). If this means that long exposure to fog and damp induces inflammation of the internal organs, a recent date must be assigned to the origin, especially as the ailment is not even personified, as is always the case with other maladies.

Substituting L. S. for S., the Amazulu have a legend that the first man and woman sprang from a reed in the water,[13] and the Ainos of Japan that rotten branches or roots of trees sometimes turn into bears.[14] A sub-group of this would be : L. S. originated from L. O., no likeness. This includes many metamorphoses. For instance, the Mongols say the woodpecker was formerly a man, and was transformed into a bird for theft.[15] Some West African people believe that all men are descended from a large spider.[16] The Missassagua Indians of Ontario relate the following succinct legend : "Long ago a girl wandered into the woods, and became a fox-bird."[17]

9a. S. or L. S. originated from O. Some external or internal likeness, often very slight, between them. A single remark or several descriptive points in the narrative hint at the character, properties, habits, or habitat of (L.) S.

The origins under this heading amount to about fourteen per cent. of the whole. But there are some that are hardly distinguishable from those of the seventh category. All classification is necessarily artificial, and the boundary between two contiguous sections is often scarcely perceptible. Here are a couple of instances. A ruddy fir-tree grew from the tooth of a pike caught by the red-cheeked son of the Death-god (23d). Here there seems to be an allusion to the ruddy bark of some coniferæ in the red cheeks of the agent by whom the pike was captured. Again, rust in corn originated from the blood of an old woman who had fallen asleep on a cold mossy swamp, and on waking had rubbed her hands till blood fell upon the moss (46). The blood falling on moss appears to be a hint that rust attacks vegetable life, though it is very obscure so far as corn specifically is concerned. A Swabian legend, mentioned below, is much clearer upon this point. A toothworm (37b) originates from bits of besom which stuck in the teeth of a furious old woman after she had swept the sea, and had twirled the broom over her head. The bits of besom of course allude to the black spots in decayed teeth, the mention of teeth indicates the habitat of the toothworm, while the epithet 'furious' applied to the old woman points to violent attacks of toothache. In a variant (37d) the girl is a blind girl of Pohjola, where the blindness of the agent refers to the blind indiscriminating way in which the toothworm goes to work. Other examples are the Bear (3c), Seal (9), Pike (17), Birch (20), Trees (23c,f), Copper (24b), Iron (25f), Toothworm (37c,f), Cowhouse Snake (41c, e,f), Chaff in the Eye (45), Salves (48h, d).

In a Swabian legend the red colour of shoots of rye when they first appear above the surface is attributed to Cain having killed Abel on a rye field, which thus became reddened with innocent blood.[18] According to an old Norse belief, the dew in the valleys is the foam that drops from the mouth of Hrimfaxi, the horse that draws the night from the east over the Blessed Powers.[19] In a Chinese legend rain is the tears of a disconsolate goddess that had been sent to earth with a message, but had fallen in love with and married a cowherd. In course of time she was summoned to return to her home in the sky. Hence the tears.[20] The Maori of New Zealand relate that though Raki (heaven) and Papa (earth) had been separated — formerly they had been united — yet they still loved each other. Mist and dew are the tears of Papa for Raki, are the messengers in the form of clouds to carry the damp air and steam to Raki. When the west wind blows it is Raki tickling the ears of Papa.[21] In another version it is said that the vast heaven, as he mourns his separation from his beloved, drops, frequent tears upon her bosom, and men term these dewdrops.[22] The Ainos of Japan assert that hares originated from the snowballs with which the children in the sky pelted each other. To stop the hares from quarelling Okikurumi beat each with a firebrand. Hence the body of a hare is white because made of snow, while its ears are black from being burnt with the firebrand.[23]

A sub-group of this, with the difference that L. S. originates from L. O. instead of from O., would include some transformations of men into animals. For instance, the Zulus relate that an idle tribe of the Amafene that did not like to dig, but to eat at other people's expense, were turned into baboons. At their chief's bidding they collected food and went into the wilderness, after fastening on behind them the handles of their digging picks. These handles turned into tales, hair grew upon their bodies, and so they became baboons.[24]

9b. L. S. is O. Some external likeness. Descriptive points in the narrative hint at the nature and habitat of L. S.

This subdivision, which is closely related to 9a, the only difference being ' is' for ' generated from', contains but one example. Toothworms are grains of iron pulverised by an ogress. In her attempt to swallow them they stick in her teeth, thereby causing intense pain (37e).

According to the Khasias of the Himalaya, the spots in the moon are the ashes thrown in his face by his mother-in-law, with whom he falls in love every month.[25]

10. S. or L. S. originated from O. No external likeness. A single remark or several descriptive points in the narrative hint at the qualities, properties, or habitat of (L.) S.

Salt originated from a fiery spark, struck by the Thunder-god, which fell into the sea, and dissolved into rock-salt (47). The fiery spark seems an allusion to the pungent quality of salt, and its fall into the sea to the seawater from which salt was obtained. The habitat alone is hinted at in the origin of the wolf (10a), and of the lizard (13b), from a pendant or pearl that fell into the grass and brushwood. Though in the wolf's case it is made a little clearer by the remark that the girl from whose person the trinket fell was travelling over heaths and swamps, the usual haunt of wolves. Three qualities of iron originated from the milk of three different colours shed upon a swamp by three daughters of nature (25a). Other examples are the Titmouse (16), Iron (25b).

Under this heading may be grouped several foreign examples. The Swabians poetically imagine that the wild rose smells so sweet because the Mother of God (a symbol of sweetness and fragrance) once dried her veil upon such a bush.[26] The modern Icelanders relate that Christ, while walking with Peter along the seashore, spat into the sea, and from his spittle a stone-grig developed. Peter also spat, and his saliva turned into a female stone-grig. Both these are excellent eating. The Devil, who was not far behind, saw this, and also spat into the sea. But his spittle changed into a jellyfish, which is fit for nothing.[27] According to a Slavonian legend, God, while travelling to the earth, became hot and tired. A drop of His sweat fell on the ground and developed into the first man.[28] The Mazurs of Bukovina and Galicia are, in the opinion of their neighbours, as ugly as owls, as filthy as pigs, as lazy as oxen, as ravenous as wolves, and as objectionable as the Devil, because the first Mazur was born from an egg laid by an owl, and successively incubated by a pig, an ox, a wolf, and finally by the Devil himself[29] Some Mongols believe that the Marmot originates from a very skilful archer of the name of Marmot, who cut off his thumb and buried it with the words, "Be a Marmot."[30] According to the same people, three evergreen trees sprang up where a crow, sitting on a cedar-tree, had upset some wonderful water. The crow had been given a cup of precious water by a lama to pour over the heads of men that they might become immortal. But it had flown to the cedar-tree, and had begun to croak, with the result that the water was spilt in the wrong place.[31] According to an incident in an Eskimo legend, a father, from feelings of revenge, threw his daughter overboard out of a boat, and, when she clung to the gunwale, cut off her fingers, which were then transformed into seals and whales.[32] The Navajo Indians relate that the first human pair were formed from two ears of corn ; the yellow ear became a woman, the white one a man. The Wind-god gave them life, the god of the white crystal rock gave them minds, the goddess of grasshoppers gave them voices.[33]

11. S. or L. S. originated from O. No external likeness. The evil or disgusting character of O. is reflected in (L.) S. Sometimes descriptive remarks in the narrative hint at the nature, character, or habitat of L. S.

The evil and disgusting nature of the spittle or the mucus of a Hiisi, a Juutas, or an Ogress, is reflected in the character of the snake (11a, b, c, d), and the wolf (10b), to which it gave birth. Rickets or atrophy is born from the blood that dropped from the beak of Hiisi's evil-omened bird the raven (32b), and a snake from the blood that spirted from a distaff, while the Death-god's iron-toothed old wife was spinning (11g). Other examples are the Cow-house Snake (41d), Sharp Frost (49c).

The latter part of the Icelandic legend above, in which the jellyfish owes its origin to the Devil's saliva, belongs to this category. The South Slavonians relate that lice and fleas originated from the white and black scales of a snake which Father Noah threw into the fire to punish it for having taken a bite out of a swallow's tail.[34] The Mongol Diurbiuts say that the Tangnu Uryankaits (a Tartar people) are descended from a stone, because they have no noma books, and call themselves black Uryankai.[35] In other words, they were regarded as blockheads, and it seems uncertain in this instance whether their alleged descent from a stone is real or metaphorical. Compare the metaphorical use of earth, tree, and horse's mane in the Kirghis legend quoted above under 2a.

12. L. S. originated from O. Some external likeness between them. Inconsequentially all its members are made of all sorts of contemptuous or harmful things.

Though the raven is generated from charcoal sticks, or from coals on a charcoal hill, yet its head is said to be made of potsherds, its legs of Hiisi's spindles, his beak of a sorcerer's arrow-tip, etc. (15a, b)

13. S. is generated from several O.s, which are both physical objects and mental emotions.

Skin eruption, conceived as a human being, is by birth from the earth, and results from the resentment of the earth, of water, or the hidden venom of a frog (34a).

The Swabians believe that when anyone commits suicide by hanging himself, a great storm arises because the pure air is enraged at being defiled by a corpse.[36] In other words, S. (a gale) is originated from the resentment of O. (air).

14. S. is made from O. by a magic song.

A boat is made from a piece of oak by Väinämöinen, through singing magic songs (27).

15. L. S originated from O. by an action (blowing). Some external likeness betiveen L. S. and O. The character of the agent is reflected in L. S.

A snake is produced from a hollow reed into which a fiend blew (11f). In Finnish poetry 'hollow reed' is an occasional synonyme for a snake. The action of blowing was evidently intended to impart life, and as the agent was a fiend, the creature he thus animated became possessed of evil qualities.

16. L. S. originated from O. by an action (gnawing). Though there is no likeness between L. S. and O., yet there is a relation betiveen them. The character of the agent is reflected in L. S. The toothworm originated from a bit of bone gnawed by a fox (37g). One of the bases on which sympathetic magic rests is the belief that to imitate an action produces a similar result. The thought underlying this origin is perfectly analogous. The gnawing of a bone by a fox produces a gnawing of the teeth by a toothworm, partly from the likeness of the action, partly from the likeness of material of bones and teeth.

17. S. originates from O. by an action (striking). Descriptive points in the narrative hint at the nature and habitat of S.

Fire (42a, e) is struck in the sky by the Thunder-god, or other demiurge, from a sword, and given to a maiden to nurse. While doing so she drops it — probably because it burnt her, though the reason is not stated— to the earth, where it burns up a great tract of country, and finally hid in a tree. In another version it is squeezed into birch fungus, or tinder spunk, by a demiurge, an incident which accounts for this material easily taking fire and smouldering for a long time. Gripes and colic originated from a lean Lapp boy striking a man on the chest with a bloody axe (31c).

The Tuba Tatars relate that fire was invented by Ulgon's three daughters striking iron against a stone, though they only did so after overhearing a sarcastic remark which Kudai (God) had made to himself with regard to them.[37]

18. L. S. originates from spinning. Its members made of all sorts of contemptuous and harmful things.

A snake is spun by Evil Beings, but its head is made of a bad bean, its eyes of Lempo's flax seed, its ears of Lempo's birch, its snout of Tuoni's pick, etc. (11h).

19. S. is made quite naturatty from O. by human or quasi-human agency. Some descriptive remarks Jiint at the qualities, pj'operties, use, etc., of S.

Arrows are made by a sorcerer from a tall pine that stood on the Hill of Pain, or from a metal pendant that fell from a maiden as she was going to the wars, but was caught by the wizard ere it touched the ground (26a, b). Here the Hill of Pain and going to the wars are allusions to the deadly nature of these arrows. The elf-bolts which, when shot into human bodies, cause pleurisy, stitch, and sudden fits, are supposed to be made in a perfectly natural manner by Evil Beings from the wood of a hellish oak of such preternatural size that it concealed the sun and moon, and hindered the stars in their courses. Iron is made by three maidens, bred from the spawn of a golden salmon, who pulverised iron seeds and lumps of steel, which were found and taken by God to the smith Ilmarinen, who forged them in his smithy (25e). It does not come out clearly whether the maidens made iron out of iron seeds (bog-iron ore), which might have been formed from their milk, as in other versions (25a, b, c), though this circumstance is not mentioned, or whether they made it out of nothing : the latter alternative being much the less probable. Copper is made from a variegated stone which the smith Ilmarinen happened to find. He took it home, flung it into his forge fire, smelted it, and finally moulded it into kettles (24a). Other examples are the Net (28a, b, c), Ale (39a, b), Brandy (40), Salves (48b,e,f,g).

The Armenians of Bukovina and Siebenbürgen have a legend which recounts that iron originated from certain black stones which a youth found in the cave of a giant he had killed. He noticed that the stones were hot and molten, but that, in cooling, they hardened into a black mass harder than the hardest stone, and also assumed certain forms. He therefore took some of the stones — white ones — and forged them first into a huge cudgel, then into balls, dishes, etc., of iron.[38] The river Theiss in Hungary is so tortuous because it is a furrow made by a plough drawn by a blind horse. A variant makes the draught animal a donkey, which kept going out of its way in search of thistles. [39] The Mongols assert that the Taizan lake and another great inland sea occupy the cavities made by a great grey ox, which tore up the earth with its horns to procure water — there was none on the earth at the time — which issued forth in a foaming fountain and formed the above sheets of water.[40] According to the Apaches, the earth, when first formed, was a perfectly flat plain, but the Black Wind came along with his horns, and, bending his head, ript open the earth, and made ravines and cañons.[41] The aborigines of Victoria, in Australia, say that Bunjil always carries a knife, and when he had made the earth, that he cut it in many places, thus forming rivers, creeks, mountains, and valleys. They also relate that the first man was built up out of clay by Bunjil, who added hair made of stringy bark, and then breathed life into the figure he had moulded.'[42]

20. S. comes from O. The narrative describes natural facts, or what may be taken as such, after making allowance for poetic treatment.

Water came in drops from the clouds, and accumulated in a rock crevice. Water-mantle, Vaitta's son, struck the rock with a staff, water gushed forth, and eventually became a great river (51a). As Water-mantle, son of a mountain, is invoked in a charm against the ravages of fire (Loitsurunoja, p. 249), and as another word for cloak or mantle is thrice used in riddles (Arvoituksia, p. 141) as a metaphor for clouds, it seems likely that here we have a poetical image of a personified rain-cloud striking another cloud so that water pours forth. Though it is also possible that 'striking the rock with a staff' is a reminiscence of what Moses did in the desert. In one of the origins of salves (48a), an oak, in answer to a question put to it by a boy, replies that honey had trickled from the clouds down under its bark. The boy therefore plucks some of its branches, peels off the bark, and boils it, with other ingredients, to make ointment. Another example is Water (51c).

21. L. S. grew from O. A statement of natural fact. The narrative describes the circumstances under which the event took place.

In the origins of flax (21a, b, c), the plant always grows from a natural seed sown in a bed of ashes, though the circumstances under which the ashes are obtained differ in each case. In the last of these stories there is an obscurity. It says that a black jade died on a meadow, that by its bones the meadow, a rake, and an old woman were burnt, and thus the requisite ashes were obtained. How could its bones cause incineration? The following riddle seems to give the solution of the difficulty : "A horse died on a sandy heath ; a foal kicks in her belly." Answer: "A charcoal-pit or kiln." (Arvoituksia, No. 2111.) The black jade therefore must mean a pile of charcoal, and the bones are the sticks of which it is composed. In the riddle, the kicking colt seems to be the fire under the pile, but in the story we must understand the charcoal to be hot. Trees, too (23a, b), grew from seed sown by some mythological personage, such as Sampsa Pellervoinen, Ahti, Väinämöinen. The oak either springs up from an acorn (22a, e), or from a sapling which four maidens find and plant on an island, where it grows into a dreadful oak-tree.

The Mississaguas of Ontario relate that Indian corn originates from a damaged head of maize found in the bed of a fasting-boy, but which had seemed to come to him in the form of a little old man, with only a little hair over the forehead. The boy's father carefully planted every kernel, hoed it well, and was, in time, rewarded with a good crop, which enabled him to give corn to his neighbours.[43] 22. S. grew from O. There is a physical relation between them.

Iron originates from sprouts of iron that grew up in the footprints of a bear (25c). The sprouts of iron refer to bog-iron ore, which has a spongy texture, with a tendency to assume arborescent forms. This notion that iron originated from sprouts seems to me to be the earliest germ of the other iron myths (25a, b). It was a very natural observation for anyone familiar with the ore, and when once this was assimilated in thought to the vegetable kingdom, it had to be watered and nourished like any other plant. This gave rise to the development of the story by an incident in which the daughters of Nature spilt milk upon a marsh. The original object of this was not, I think, to yield a material from which iron was to originate directly, but was rather to fertilize the sprouts of iron in the same way that shoots of corn are fertilized by rain.

In the following examples, most of them foreign, the earth is made from a handful of earth, or from a grain of sand, by a supernatural growth or expansion of the same. There is always a tacit assumption that ex nihilo nihil fit. In a short and defective Finnish prose story, the Devil, at God's command, descends to the bottom of the sea, and brings up some earth, which God rubs between His hands, and thus increases it. But the Devil had kept back in his mouth some earth, which grows in a similar ratio, and causes him intense pain. So God takes the earth from the Devil's mouth, and throws it down in Pohjola to become stones and rocks.[44] According to a legend of the Altai Tatars, the world was made by God from a handful of earth brought up from the bottom of the sea by a man in the shape of a grey goose. On making a second descent, he brings up more earth in his mouth, which expands and nearly chokes him. He spits it out, and the earth becomes hillocks, in swampy ground.[45] In a Mordwin version of the same story, the man is Shaitan.[46] The Algonquins believed that, in the beginning, there was only water and a raft, on which were all sorts of animals, under the chieftainship of the Great Hare. A musk-rat fished up from the bottom of the sea a grain of sand, which the Great Hare lets fall on the raft, and which grew till it became a great mountain.[47]

23. S. or L. S. originates from B. No parents mentioned. Descriptive points in the narrative, especially those relating to the birthplace, account for the nature, character, habits, or habitat of (L.) S.

Thus sorcerers were born in Lapland in the Far North on a bed of pine-branches (2), merely stating in fact the country where the best were supposed to come from or were to be found. The bear (3a, b) was born near the sun, moon, and stars, and was then let down to the earth to be cradled by a Forest- maiden under a fir. His supposed heavenly origin is no doubt the result of the respect in which he was held, though, perhaps, it is of late date, like the baptism which he subsequently underwent at the hands of the King of Heaven. Fire, too (42b), was born in the sky near the seven stars, where it was rocked to sleep by a Fire-maiden in a 'golden' thicket on the top of a 'golden' knoll. But the spark falls to the earth and kills a child. There is a great resemblance between some of the Fire and Bear origins, and in this particular one a 'golden' thicket and knoll — that is to say, one abounding in game — is appropriate only to the bear's origin. Ague (29) was rocked by wind, put to sleep by cold wind, and brought to sufferers by means of wind and water in whirlwind. Other examples are the Oak (22b), Trees (23e, g), Whitlow (38), Salves (48c).

The Basutos believe that the first man issued either from a cave or from a swampy bed of reeds. Some Hereros (Western Kaffirs) maintain that man and animals issued from a tree, others that men were from a tree and animals from a rock.[48]

24. S. or L. S. originates from B. Its viembers made of various fanciful or contemptuous things.

The cat (4) originated on a stove. It has the nose of a girl, the head of a hare, a tail made of Hiisi's hair-plait, the claws of a snake. The horse (7) is from Hiisi, from a mountain. Its head is of stone, its hoofs of rock, its legs of iron, its back of steel. This origin seems to have been taken from a 'posting' formula, and applies to Hiisi's horse in particular, not to horses in general. Gripes or Colic is a boy, but nevertheless is made of swamp, of coarse needle-points, of the foam of rapids, of the inside of an ogress, etc. (31a, b). Another example is the Elk (6). The following Norse description of a shackle, which is attributed by Vigfusson and Powell to a period earlier than the Vikings, and therefore anterior to A.D. 700, is nearly on the same lines. The shackle Gleipni was fashioned from the tread of a cat, the beard of a woman, the breath of fish, the milk of a bird, the roots of hills, and the tail of a bear.[49] The difference between this and the Finnish examples under categories 3, 12, 24, is that in the former all the formative objects are impossible, or nearly so, and the spirit which animates the composition is humorous. In the latter the spirit is more contemptuous and satirical, though a humorous element is sometimes blended with it.

25. S. or L. S. is created by God.

Thus all trees (23h, i) are created by God, with a few exceptions, such as the aspen, rowan, the alder-buckthorn, and one or two more which were made by various evil beings. Fire, too, in one version (42c), is the creation of God, originated from the word of Jesus, and was rocked by the Virgin Mary. Though in Finland origin-stories under this heading belong to a recent period, the notion of creation by a Supreme Being is old enough in itself. Thus the Amazulus believe that the rain, sun, and moon come from the Lord above, Ankulunkulu.[50] The aborigines of Victoria say the earth, water, sky, men, and animals were made by Baiame, who also makes the rain to fall and the grass to grow.[51] The Andaman islanders assume that Pulugu, the creator and thunder-god, created the world and all objects, animate and inanimate, except the powers of evil.[52]

With this the analysis is brought to a close. It has made manifest, I hope with some degree of clearness, the train of thought pursued by the authors of the origins, and has laid bare the skeleton or framework which underlies the narrative. It has also shown the close analogy of internal structure between some of the categories, Nos. 13 and 16, and some popular beliefs, especially such as are based on sympathetic magic. This is not surprising. For when the mind is engaged in the consideration of cause and effect, the mental process must be very similar under all circumstances. To illustrate this I will give a couple of examples.

It is a common incident or practice in the course of the marriage ceremony to place in the lap of the bride a male child, with the express purpose of insuring male offspring. Should her first child happen to be a boy, the circumstance is naturally attributed to the above practice, and the line of thought pursued by those who practise the custom in full belief of its efficacy may thus be formulated. S. (masculinity) originated from O. (male child) by means of an action (placing O. in the bride's lap). A likeness exists between S. and O. Such a formula is analogous to category 15. Again, take the following custom, once practised at the village of Mammast, near Dorpat, in Esthonia. During a time of great drought three men used to climb up a fir-tree in an old and sacred grove. One of them drummed with a hammer on a kettle or a small cask, to imitate thunder ; another knocked two firebrands together to make the sparks fly ; the third, the rain-maker, sprinkled water from a bucket with a bunch of twigs in all directions.[53] If rain actually fell after this mimic representation of a thunderstorm accompanied with rain, the above belief and practice might be formulated thus. S. (rain) originated from several actions (imitating, thunder, lightning and rain). There is a likeness, direct and indirect, between S. and the actions. Descriptive points in the narrative hint at the nature and accompaniments of S. Examples such as these could be multiplied to any extent. But from those given we readily perceive how uniform is the mental process, whether employed in imagining the origins of things or in evolving what we coldly term superstitious beliefs and practices.

  1. True of twenty categories, 1-5, both inclusive, 7, 9a, 9b, 11, 12, 15-23.
  2. The figures in round brackets refer to the origin-stories as they have appeared numbered in Folk-Lore. From 1-24 in vol. i, from 25-33 in vol. ii, from 34-40 in vol. iii, No. i ; the remainder have yet to be published.
  3. In my previous translation I have translated 'thrust' by 'aperture', in accordance with a note sent me by my friend Lektor Raitio, but louke certainly has the meaning of 'thrust, push, knock', etc.
  4. Gardner, F.L. Journal, iv, p. 21.
  5. Gardner, F.-L. J., iv, p. 23.
  6. Deans, J. of Amer. F.-L., iv, p. 34.
  7. ' Radloff, Das Kudatku Bilik, i, p. 1.
  8. O. K., i, 270-315 ; N. K., i, 201-244.
  9. Vigfusson and Powell, Corpus poet. Boreale, i, p. 64.
  10. Vemaleken, Myth. u. Braüche in Oesterreich, p. 363.
  11. Radloff, Proben der Volkslitt. der Türk. Siberiens, i, p. 286.
  12. Man, J. of Anthrop. Institute, xii, No. 2, p. 165.
  13. Callaway, Relig. System of the Amazulu, p. 42.
  14. Chamberlain, Aino Folk-tales, p. 54.
  15. Gardner, F.-L. J., iii, p. 328.
  16. Ellis, Tshi-speaking Peoples, p. 339.
  17. Chamberlain, J. of Amer. F.-L., ii, p. 141.
  18. Meyer, Sagen, Sitten., etc., aus Schwaben., p. 248.
  19. Vigfusson and Powell, op. cit., i, p. 63.
  20. Gray, China, i, p. 263.
  21. White, The Anc. Hist. of the Maori, i, p. 25.
  22. Grey, Polynes. Mythol. and Maori Legends, p. 9.
  23. Chamberlain, Aino Folk-tales, p. 9.
  24. Callaway, Nursery Tales of the Zulus, i, p. 178.
  25. Tylor, Primitive Culture, i, p. 354.
  26. Meyer, op. cit., p. 248.
  27. Amason, Iceland. Legends, Eng. transl., p. 11.
  28. Leger, Contes pop. Slaves, p. 117; Wratislaw, Sixty Folk-tales, p. 254.
  29. Kaindl, Zeitschr. f. Volkskunde, i, p. 182.
  30. Gardner, F.-L. Journal, iii, p. 318; iv, p. 27.
  31. Gardner, F.-L. Journal, iii, p. 318; iv, p. 27.
  32. Rink and Boas, J. of Amer. F,-L., ii, p. 125.
  33. Mathews, J. of Amer. F.-L., iii, p. 90.
  34. Krauss, Sagen u. Märch. d Südslaven, ii, p. 154.
  35. Gardner, F.-L. Journ., iii, p. 317.
  36. Meyer, op. cit., p. 257.
  37. Radloff, Proben d. Volkslitt., i, p. 286.
  38. Wlislocki, Märch, u. Sagen d. Biikoivinaer ti. Siebenbürger Armenier, p. 8.
  39. Kálmány, Ethnog. Mittheil. aus Ungaren (1891), p. 8.
  40. Gardner, F.-L. J., iii, p. 321.
  41. Bourke, J. of Amer. F.-L., iii, p. 209.
  42. Brough Smith, Aborigines of Victoria, i, p. 423-4.
  43. Chamberlain, J. of Amer. F.-L., ii, p. 143.
  44. K. Krohn, Eläinsatuja, p. 291.
  45. Radloff, Proben, i, p. 176.
  46. F.-L.J., v, p. 75.
  47. Perrot, Mœurs, Coutumes, etc., des Sauvages de l'Amér. septent. Publié par R. P. J. Tailhan, pp. 4, 5.
  48. Schneider, Die Relig. d. afrik. Naturvölker, pp. 74, 76.
  49. Vigfusson and Powell, op. cit., i, p. 16.
  50. Callaway, Relig. Syst. of the Amazulu p. 59.
  51. Brough Smith, op. cit., ii, p. 284.
  52. Man, J. of Anthrop. Inst., xii, No. 2, p. 157.
  53. Mannhardt, Antike Wald- u. Feldkulte, p. 342.