Saturday, April 12, 2008

An Ancient Riddle Found Standing in the Backyard


The beginning of the journey is a tree

En-trance: the door on your drum

Take up my skin and with a heartbeat

enter my secret nuptial chamber.

Carry your eye upwards. Behold,

I offer the branching order of my lungs to blue sky.

Although you may have forgotten me and lost

the ability to read the sacred text of my grey bark,

the perfect symmetry of my seven-runged leaves,

and the pendant clusters of my five-pointed stars,

I have not ceased to exist.

I am rooted deep in the subterranean folds of your heart.

Look for me, my black talons poke through in spring.

I am Akka-Rauni, the childless one,

emanta of the harvest and female sexuality

I am the first green of spring dancing deliriously

across winter-ravaged fields.

I cackle in a blaze lit in my honour.

Behind the crimson rims of clouds

I made love to Ukko, the God of Thunder,

and from the reverberations of our yoiking

all plants blossomed.

Inside each syllable,

a sylvan conception.


I am Lempi, luck in love

Loviatar, Lady of the Door

Suonetar, She who heals

I am the forbearer of Suvi,

the Spirit of summer.

I reside in the uppermost realm,

the land that lies beyond the northern stars,

the land known to the Greeks as Thule,

the Edge of the Known World,

Artikos, the country of the Great Bear.

I am witchwood. I can see in the dark.

My beauty is great. My red berries,

stigmata that mark me as special and chosen.

My body, the path the Shaman travels

to commune with the spirits of the dead.

Once upon a time young women gathered

beneath the bower of my leaves,

singing songs of yearning,

calling up a lover from under me.

Once upon a time young love rejoiced

beneath the lace of my flowers,

reeling from the strong spirit

of my red breath.


I am She of the fells, of the fens, of the backwoods,

of the sininen salo: the grey-blue haze of low-lying lands

where the dark Eye of Earth peers from rounded swamp holes.

In the coming dusk tiny gauze-clothed souls flit and frolic

among the amanita mushrooms creeping about my feet,

seeking the amber buried in the hollows of my skirt.

I am planted at gravesites.

I hear the sorrows of those wedded to their grief.

I collect offerings. Water me with your teardrops

for I am a figure of transformation.

I invite you to my arms.

Everlasting life lives in the prayer beads of my blood.

I am the ancient tree descended from heaven,

rooted in Manala, the underworld. I am Kotipihlaja,

the first to be planted in the yard of a new home.

I am hardy.

I can outface the fierce winds of Ahava,

the cold stare of Tunturi,

thrive in poor soil

tolerate ill-treatment.

I filter winds,

my branches shutter the sun.

I will protect you, too, for I am older than music.


Some know me as Luis

the second letter of the tree alphabet.

In Latin I am sorbus aucuparia—bird-catcher.

I am beloved by birds for they seek the sacred revelation

of my fruit to survive the midday blackness

of the wheel of winter.

Still others call me the whispering tree

for I have secrets to tell those who will listen,

those who heed the invisible council

of maidens clothed in red.

I tell the story of the ancestors.

I come from the homeland of magic,

no one leaves my company unchanged.

Where can you find an omen? a sign that I am near?

Find my charms written on stones rattling in squirrel skin bags;

carved on copper antlers my secret cures to restore

even the most broken life. Look closely on long-limbed

driftwood for the notches of my calendar of moons.

And my runes, ah, my runes

are woven between the warp and woof

of the finest linen, plucked

from the jawbone of a pike,

heard in the language of birds.

Throw a stick of rowan in the fire,

if the wood oozes honey your lover is near.

Look for me in the tail feathers singed red.

I am the daughter; I have returned.

Emanta [with dots over both a's]: a Finnish word meaning a strong, central woman who organizes and controls the domain around her. An emanta is irreplaceable; there is no one else like her. She is strong. Strong-willed. Strong in body and stamina.

Sami singing birthed from one’s embeddedness in the land and Spirits.


marja-leena said...

Oh, this is powerful and beautiful, really speaks to my Finnish blood! Thank you.

I found your lovely blog a few days ago and have enjoyed meandering through the archives. You write with beauty and heart. Naturally I love the posts touching on Finnish culture the most, also on our First Nations, and the Canadian Shield country with which I was familiar with in my youth in Winnipeg. I remember visits to Thunder Bay, then called Port Arthur, with my parents to meet Finnish friends and cousins there.

You might be interested in entering this wonderful ode to the rowan tree in the next Festival of the Trees carnival:

northshorewoman said...

i love YOUR vision in your blog, which I found through my sister.

Kiitos for the kind words and the Festival of Trees site; I will explore. I wrote a series of tree poems, apple, willow, black spruce. When I get a minute I will post my date tree ode to Iraq one day. But I must first write a post about how those very pihlajat in 2 of the photos are part of the trees being pulled out for 'development' of a condo and hotel on our shore here in TBay. Such is the madness of development. I stopped in front of the trees today and felt sad.

The pihlaja poem came from being asked to 'chant up some Finnish gods and goddesses' at a 1st of May /Beltane event. I said, hmmm. Not a good idea. What if we call up a paha henki? Finnish words are too powerful in incantation. So, I offered a poem in honour of Rauni, the pihlaja tree/woman.