Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ancient Magic: Lemminkainen's Resurrection

In later times, sorcerors and alchemists needed complex formulae, laboratories, libraries, and other scholastic accoutrement, but in the earliest times, wizards just were. These enchanters were demi-godlike figures whose very essence was imbibed with the supernatural. Lemminkainen, one of the earliest Finnish wizards, was one of these.

While Lemminkainen would go on to have many adventures, one story tells of his mother, whose name may be lost to antiquity or never recorded, who knew her son was in trouble but did not know its nature nor her son's location. She scoured the world looking for her son and found Lemminkainen, who had died trying to win the favor of the evil sorceress, Louhi, and the hand of her daughter.

Lemminkainen's mother had another wizard fashion her a rake made of copper with which she descended into the Underworld and painstakingly collected her son's remains. Once she had them all, she carefully pieced Lemminkainen's torn body back together and sang sorcerous chants and melodies into the day and night. Some tales say her magic alone brought the fallen wizard back to life, while others say Lemminkainen's mother had to steal honey from the hall of the gods to provide true "life."

Many early stories feature similarly fantastic impossibilities, but this is among the first to feature resurrection, a feat generally thought of as reserved for the gods. As mentioned, the tale credits the gods in one version, but I do not know which version came first.

© C Harris Lynn, 2010

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