Ilmatar Picture

Ilmatar is the primordial goddess of the air in the beautiful and poetic - but unfortunately little known - Finnish mythology, narrated in the epic poem "Kalevala". Here is the myth:

At the beginning of time, in the open vastness of the air, under the canopy of an endless sky, moving an ethereal and graceful girl. It was Ilmatar, the Daughter of the Air, so called because she had come to life spontaneously from this element. Others call her Luonnotar, the Daughter of Nature, perhaps because her essence is blended with the elements of which she was part.
Ilmatar was alone. Completely alone. No one was accompanied by her. For a long time she remained a virgin, floating in the clear air. Until Ilmatar got bored of this life and slowly descended down, until she touched the waves of an endless sea. At that point, a stormy wind blew, the waves rose and Ilmatar was pushed into the waves and sea foam. The wind fertilized her, the sea made her pregnant. And so it was that Ilmatar, the Daughter of the Air, conceived a child.
It was a long and painful pregnancy for Ilmatar. For seven hundred years, for nine lives of heroes, she took that weight in her womb, without being able to relieve. By now become the mother of the waters, Ilmatar swam, with swollen belly, in all directions. He swam toward the east and west, from north to south, reaching to the ends of heaven.
The throes distressed her beyond words, but she could not give birth to the creature who bore in her womb. She began to weep and despair, saying, "Alas, poor me! It is for this I have come down from heaven? Because the wind to sooth me and I was dragged away from the endless waves of the sea? It would have been better to live in the air, pure and virgin, rather than wander down here among the foaming waves, as the mother of the waters. Here it's so cold and life is so painful ... oh you, Ukko, the supreme god, ruler of the sky! Listen to me, I call to you! Raises this girl from the torments of her labor! I beg you, help me!".
Then appeared through the clouds a bird. Some say it was a duck, a gull others. It was perhaps a coot, a coot flying above the waves, looking for a place to settle. For a long time the poor bird had flown from south to north, from east to west, but she had not found a single place to rest: everywhere stretched only the sea. And the coot continued to fly, looking for a solid place on which to nest and lay her eggs. But there was nothing but the waves.
Then Ilmatar, the mother of the waters, lifted her leg from the waves. The coot saw the knee that the girl handed her and, believing it was an island, hovered over it with a slow flight and settled there. On the knee of Ilmatar, the coot made ​​her nest and, after having laid six golden eggs and one of iron, she began to hatch. For three days the coot hatched her eggs and Ilmatar felt a great warmth radiating from the knee down her leg, so that soon she had the impression that her veins were burning. So she shook her knee. The nest is overturned, the eggs rolled into the water and immediately shattered and broke into a myriad of pieces.
But those fragments are not lost between the water and the mud. They took all of a sudden new form. The bottom half of the shell became the land, while the upper half became the vault of heaven and the firmament. The yellow yolk became the glorious sun, while the albumen became the shining moon. What there was of mottled inside the egg spread around creating the stars. Finally, the dark part of the egg formed the thick clouds of the air. Thus were born the heavens and the earth, the sun and the moon, stars and clouds. Thus began the universe.
The time continued to flow and the years succeeded one after the other. The new sun was shining in the sky, as the newborn moon during the night. And Ilmatar swam, wandered among the waves, through the haze. Before her, only the limpid water; behind her, the clear sky. Nine years passed thus. At the tenth summer, Ilmatar lifted her head from the waves. Suddenly she began her creative work. Where she lay the hand, there were the headlands. Where she pressed her feet, she created the seabed. Where she dived, she excavate the depths. Her gestures evoked from nowhere the land, with its banks and its bays, its cliffs and its islands. The land lay everywhere, the fields flourished, the stones sprang up and formed the rocks, the mountains. So Ilmatar created the earth. And when her long pregnancy was over, she gave birth to the eternal bard Väinämöinen.

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