Okay, we've all heard of Norse myths, but has anyone become acquainted with the myths of the Finns? It is totally wild; nothing like the Viking myths. I'm reading the Kalevala, the epic of Finland. It was compiled by Elias Lonnrot in the 1800's from country folk singers. It tells the story of earth's creation and the birth of Vainamoinen, the main protaganist. He was born of a woman who fell from the sky and was born already old! (His gestation took 700 years)! Another hero is the divine smith Illmarinen, who crafted a woman made of gold; and Lemminkainen, a brash young man who was murdered but brought back to life by the sorcery of his mother. Looming in the far north is the witch Louhi who acts as a foil for the heroes. In the background are the gods: Ukko, the sky god; Tapio, the god of forests, and Tuoni, the lord of the dead. Magic is central to the epic, more than the Norse myths that rely more on martial abilities, and the epic is packed with chants and spells. The Finns belong to an entirely different language family than the Scandinavians, so their myths have an entirely different flavor and feel. The composer Sibelius based much of his work on this epic, and it was also a rallying cry for Finns to express their culture and the need to free themselves from Russia. I'm reading a prose version by Magoun, but there are other translations as well. I totally recommend this work.