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God, Ukko

Painting by Robert Ekman in 1867 called Lemminkäinen tulisella järvellä where Lemminkäinen asks help from Ukko ylijumala with crossing the lake in fire on his route to Pohjolan häät. Ukko
Painting by Robert Ekman in 1867 called Lemminkäinen tulisella järvellä where Lemminkäinen asks help from Ukko ylijumala with crossing the lake in fire on his route to Pohjolan häät.
  • Pantheon: Finish Pantheon
  • Deity Title: The high God
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Ukko is a god of sky, weather, crops (harvest) and other natural things. He is also the most significant god in Finnish mythology and the Finnish word ukkonen, thunderstorm, is derived from his name. In the Kalevala he is also called ylijumala (the high god), as he is the god of things above.

Other names for Ukko include Pitkänen (pitkä, long), isäinen (isä, father), isoinen (iso, great) and Äijö. He makes all his appearances in myths solely by natural effects when asked. Translated to English “Ukko” means literally “old man”. He is the equivalent of Odin in the Norse pantheon, with properties of Thor. The equivalent of Thor, Tuuri, was seldom encountered in the Finnish pantheon, and relegated only as deity of harvest and success.

Ukko’s origins are probably in Baltic Perkons and the older Finnish sky god Ilmarinen. Thor of Ásatrú is also associated with Perkons. While Ukko took Ilmarinen’s position as the Sky God, Ilmarinen’s destiny was to turn into a mortal smith-hero. Stories tell about Ilmarinen vaulting the sky-dome.

Ukko’s weapon was a hammer called Ukonvasara (Ukko’s Hammer), or an axe or a sword, by which he struck lightning (see thunderbolt). While Ukko mated with his wife Akka, (which consequently means “old woman” in modern Finnish) the act created a thunderstorm. He also created thunderstorms by driving with his chariot through the skies. Ukko’s original weapon was probably the boat-shaped stone-axe of the battle-axe culture.

A viper snake with a saw-figure on its skin is a symbol of thunder. There are stone carvings which have features of both snakes and lightning.

Ukko was sometimes known as the same god as Perkele and as Ilmarinen, the blacksmith of Kalevala. His wife was Rauni the protecter of rowan tree, known as the Mother-Earth or Akka.

Ukko also gave good luck for hunting.

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