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Finns’ did not actually have gods, they were Guardian spirits (“haltija”, plural form “haltijat”) the people honoured and worshipped. Guardian spirits took care of trees, lakes, animals, humans, houses... all things. There were sprits who lived in nature, like "vedenhaltija" (water spirit) and "metsänhaltija" (forest spirit), and those who live with the humans, "tonttu" (the guardian of the house), "myllynhaltija" (the guardian of the mill) etc. Some spirits even had names like Tapio and his wife Mielikki (forest spirits), Ahti and his wife Vellamo (waterspirits) and Honkatar or Hongotar (the guardian and ancestress of bears). One had to honour and treat the spirits well otherwise they might get angry. One's luck was depending on the spirits.

In Finnish language the words “haltija” and “haltia” are often mixed with each other. Both are used in literature meaning elf. The Finnish word comes from ancient Germanic language (haldiaz, haldia) why some people’s opinion is that “haltia” is the actual form because it’s nearer to the old Germanic word.  On the other hand people have used the word “haltija” for years meaning “someone who owns”, “someone who guards” which is closer to the supernatural being called “Haltija” (Guardian spirit).

Anyway, the form “haltia” became stable in literature at the end of 1900s thanks to Kersti Juva who translated J.R.R Tolkien’s books using the word “haltia” as an elf. Ever since this form has been more common in fantasy literature referring to beings like Tolkien’s elves. Nowadays “haltija” form is usually used when folklorists talk about supernatural beings in folklore.

My opinion:

In my opinion “haltija” (guardian spirit) and “haltia” (elf) are different beings. Even if there are different kinds of elves in literature, too, many of them are somehow descendants to Tolkien elves. They have bodies and they are in many ways like humans. “Haltija” on the other hand doesn’t have to be corporeal. Like the English name tells, they are more like spirits (“henki”), part of the lakes and forests they live in. There are guardian spirits in Finnish folklore that can change shape, Tapio for example can be tiny as a blade of grass or huge as a tree. Metamorphose is something elves can’t usually do.

And what is always so much fun (irony), this was not nearly all the word “haltija” can mean. Finnish folklore is full of things that have thousand meanings. Not to mention the word “Hiisi” which I’m gonna tell you next time.

;D

Your own folklorist student,
-Vanya-chan


Sources and more information:
-Pini, Wendy and Richard: ElfQuest (cartoon), 1978-2007
-Sarmela, Matti: Suomen perinneatlas, SKS 1994
-Siikala, Anna-Leena: Suomalainen shamanismi, SKS 1992
-Tolkien, J.R.R.:  All works, especially The Silmarillion and The Lord of the Rings
-fi.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haltija
...because I'm dying without my drawing gadgets :saddummy: and I had to create something...
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:iconisil9:
Isil9 Featured By Owner Jun 18, 2013  Student General Artist
I adore those kinds of things! But I thought that Finns worshipped the gods Ukko and Tuonela and not only spirits. I don't know much about it but that's what I've read.
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:iconcelerana-chan:
Celerana-chan Featured By Owner Jun 18, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Oh, and thanks for reading. I'm happy you found it fascinating :heart:
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:iconcelerana-chan:
Celerana-chan Featured By Owner Jun 18, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Yes, you are right. But actually also Ukko was a spirit (spirit of the weather). It's true that he is mentioned in the poems as "highgod" but that's probably an idea people took from Christianity. I know I have a writing about "Finnish Gods" here in my gallery but that's actually wrong (so maybe I should change it. I wrote it before I knew better). But *sigh* :roll: on the other hand maybe you can call them gods too because guardians spirit were like gods to the people. I'm not actually very sure about the difinition of "a god" so I can't talk about the differencies between guardian spirits and gods (but maybe that will chance when I'll start my Comparative Religion studies at university next autumn :love:)

And btw, Tuonela is the place the dead go. Tuonela's master is named Tuoni ;)
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:iconisil9:
Isil9 Featured By Owner Jun 19, 2013  Student General Artist
Great. Thanks for letting me know! Oh and I had no idea you were meaning to study Comparative Religion, that must be so so so AWESOME! Good luck with that (and I'd really like you to tell me what you will be doing there as soon as you start the studies :P)
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:iconcelerana-chan:
Celerana-chan Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
:#1: Thanks! I will. ^^
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:iconisil9:
Isil9 Featured By Owner Jun 22, 2013  Student General Artist
Yay! Looking forward to it!
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:iconmontmartre96:
montmartre96 Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
This is very interesting!^^Thanks for sharing!
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:iconcelerana-chan:
Celerana-chan Featured By Owner Jun 13, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
:#1:
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:iconelaedan:
Elaedan Featured By Owner Jun 11, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Mä olen täysin sun pointtien kannalla! Jos se nyt muutettaisiin tai alettaisiin kirjoittamaan erillä tavalla se olisi naurettavaa 833 Haltia on haltia!! Haltijat ovat sitten mytologiaan liittyviä, ja eikös haltija ole tavallaan ihan saunatonttukin? Mutta oli miten oli, tämä on ihana tietoisku kaikille jotka haluavat tutustua ja ovat kiinostuneet mytologiasta tai erityisesti Suomen mytologiasta ;33 Great job!

En kuitenkaan malta odottaa sun tutkielmaa hiisien ja örkkien merkityksestä ja eroista! (Hobittia lukiessani se tuotti tosi paljon vaikeuksia, olikohan vanha käännös..?) 833
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:iconcelerana-chan:
Celerana-chan Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Jepu, tontut on nimenomaan niitä ihmisten läheisyydessä eläviä haltijoita, kuten juuri saunatottu (eli saunanhaltija), kotitonttu (kodinhaltija) ja myllytonttu (myllynhaltija). Tonttujen on sanottu olevan vanhoja, parrakkaita ukkoja, joilla on piippalakki (vertaa tonttulakki). Sitä en valitettavasti tiedä, milloin heistä tuli joulupukin apureita ;)

Ymmärrän kyllä niitäkin tutkijoita, jotka haluaa käyttää haltia muotoa, mutta minusta ihan selkeyden vuoksi voisi tehdä jonkinlaisen eron. Nuo kirjat on molemmat vanhoja, mutta Siikala käyttää haltijaa ja Sarmela haltiaa. Tosin Sarmela onkin kaiketi uskontotieteilijä eikä folkloristi (siis aivan vissi ero xD). Silti, saan aina kauheen angstin :nuu: Kyllä nyt proffien pitäisi osata tehdä ero!

Jaa, ehkä sitä voisi örkeistä pari sanaa kirjottaakin (näin Tolkien-fanina):3 Suomenkielinen teksti on jo valmiina, pitäis vaan kääntää vielä. (xD Hehhhehe, tässähän alkaa jo kandityö valmistua!)
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