LOUHI STEALS THE SUN, THE MOON, AND FIRE
When these two dangers were overcome,
Wainamoinen played upon his kantele so sweetly that
the Sun and Moon came down from their stations in
the sky to listen to his music. But evil Louhi
crept upon them unawares and made both Sun and Moon
her captives, and carried them off to the dismal Northland,
and there she hid them both in caverns in the mountains,
that they might never again shine upon Kalevala.
Next Louhi crept back to Kalevala and stole all the
fire from the hearths, and left all their homes cold
and cheerless. Then there was nothing but black
night in the world, and great Ukko himself did not
know what to do without the light of the Sun and Moon.
Ukko wandered all over the clouds
to find out what had become of the Sun and Moon, and
at last he whirled his fire-sword round his head so
that the lightning flashed over the whole sky.
From this lightning he kindled a little fire, and
putting it in a gold and silver cradle, he gave it
to the Ether-maidens to rock and care for, until it
grew into a second Sun. So the Fire-child was
cared for tenderly, and he grew fast; but one day
the maidens were not watching him closely, and he escaped
from them, and bursting through the clouds with a noise
like a thunder-clap, he shot across the heavens like
a red fire-ball.
Then Wainamoinen said to Ilmarinen:
’Come, let us see what this fire is that is
fallen from the heavens.’ And so they set
out towards the spot where the ball of fire had seemed
to fall. Soon they came to a wide river and set
to work to make a magic boat to cross it, and in a
very short time the boat was made, and they rowed
over. On the other bank they were met by the
oldest of the Ether-maidens, who asked them whither
they were going.
So they told her who they were, and
that they had lost all fire and light in Kalevala,
so that they were come to seek the fire that they had
seen fall from the heavens. Then the Ether-maiden
told them what had happened, saying: ’After
the Fire-child had begun to grow, he escaped from
us one day and bursting through the clouds he came
down to Pohjola. There he killed youths and babes
and old people, until he was driven away by a magic
spell. He fled thence, burning fields and forests
on his way, until at length he plunged into a great
lake, and made the waters boil and rage. Then
the fish held a council how to get rid of him, and
it was decided that one of them must swallow him.
First the salmon tried, but failed, and then the bold
whiting made a dash and succeeded in swallowing the
evil Fire-child. After this the waters of the
lake grew quiet, and all went on as before.
’But soon the whiting was seized
with terrible pains and began to swim round in agony,
begging for some one to kill him and put him out of
his sufferings. For a long time he swam about
unheeded, but at last a trout seized the whiting and
swallowed him. For a while all was quiet again,
but then the trout began to suffer in his turn.
Still every fish was afraid to swallow him, until
a pike darted up and ate up the trout. But then
the pike was seized with the same pains, and he is
now swimming about in great agony, but none will help
When the Ether-maiden had finished
her account of what had happened, Wainamoinen and
Ilmarinen wove a great net from seaweed, and hurrying
to the lake they began to draw the net all through
it in order to catch the Fire-fish. But the net
was a poor one, and they failed to catch the pike
that had swallowed the other fish and the Fire-child.
Then the two magicians gave up their
useless net, and, choosing an island near by, they
resolved to plant flax that they might make a stronger
and better net. They went to Tuoni’s kingdom
before they could find the proper seed, and found
it there under the care of a tiny insect. When
they had brought the seed from the Deathland, they
planted it on the shore, in the ashes of a ship that
had been burnt there, and in a single night the flax
had grown up and ripened. Then they pulled it,
and washed and dried and combed it, and took it to
the Kalevala maidens to spin. Soon the spinning
was done and the net was woven.
So the two great heroes took the flaxen
net and hastened back to the lake and began to drag
for the Fire-fish. But they only caught common
fish, and the pike remained hidden in the deep caverns.
Then Wainamoinen made the net longer and wider and
they tried again, but though they caught fish of every
species, the Fire-fish was not amongst them.
Wainamoinen then prayed to Ahto, god of the ocean,
and his wife, Wellamo, that they would drive the Fire-fish
into his nets. Scarcely had Wainamoinen finished
speaking, when a little dwarf rose from the waters
and offered to help them. They accepted the tiny
man’s aid, and while they drew their nets, the
dwarf beat the waters with a magic pole and scared
all the fish toward them. And as they drew, Wainamoinen
sang a magic charm to bring the fish in still greater
This time the net was full of pike,
and they dragged it to the shore rejoicing, and among
them they found the Fire-fish. So they threw the
other fish back into the water, and Wainamoinen drew
his knife and began to cut up the Fire-fish.
Inside of the pike he found the trout, and inside
of the trout the whiting, and on opening the whiting
he came upon a ball of blue yarn. Wainamoinen
quickly unwound the blue ball, and within that found
a red ball, and when he had opened the red ball he
came to the ball of fire in the middle.
They pondered how they should get
the fire to Kalevala, and at last Ilmarinen seized
it in his hands to carry it off. But it singed
Wainamoinen’s beard and burned Ilmarinen’s
hands dreadfully, and then it jumped out of their
reach and rolled off over field and forest, burning
everything in its course. Wainamoinen hastened
after it, and at length caught it hidden in a mass
of punk-wood. Then he took it and put it, wood
and all, in a copper box and hastened off home.
Thus the fire returned to Kalevala.
But Ilmarinen, suffering great agony
from his burnt hands, hastened to the sea to lave
them in the cool water. And he called up the ice
and frost and snow to come and cool his parched hands,
and, when all these proved insufficient, he called
on great Ukko to send him some healing balm to take
away the cruel torture. And Ukko granted his prayer
and his hands were healed. Then Ilmarinen returned
home and rejoiced to find that Wainamoinen had already
brought the fire thither.