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Page 450 - June 18, 2013

Ah, I'm almost rid of my jetlag and my thoughts are back on track. I could have easily slept for three more hours but our doorbell just went "Ding dong! Chimney sweep!" and then literally ten minutes later "Ding dong! Plumber!". I don't think I can get back to sleep with all these people running around fixing our house all of a sudden.

So hey, today's page! I made a reference to Tuonela as the realm of the dead once or twice in the English version of the comic , but some of you might have forgotten about that by now. So yes, realm of the dead, here we come! A reference for this chapter that all Finns probably recognize but is lost on pretty much everyone else (except those of you who were googling Gallen-Kallela yesterday xD) is this painting:

The painting is called "Lemminkšinen's mother" (Lemminkšisen šiti) and is painted by Akseli Gallen-Kallela in the 19th century. I might as well share the mythology to level the playing fields a bit between those of you who know Finnish stuff and those who have no clue. It won't be much of a spoiler anyway because I mostly just use concepts from Finnish mythology rather than the storylines.

So what you see here is the river of Tuonela (Tuonelan joki or Tuonelan virta), in the back we've got the swan of Tuonela (Tuonelan joutsen) and the white flowers are flowers of death (Kalman kukka). Lemminkšinen's final task by the great sorceress of the north, Louhi, was to go kill the swan of Tuonela. Sadly killing a swan of any kind is a big no-no se he was killed instead, chopped into pieces and thrown into the river. His worrying mom had put a spell on her comb to show her if something bad happened to her son, and when blood started seeping out of it she knew he had died. So she went out searching for him, all devastated.

She found Louhi up north and forced her to tell what she had done to Lemminkšinen by threatening to both break the new door to Louhi's house and to kill Louhi herself. After Louhi finally told her the truth she headed off looking for the river. She walked for weeks, asking for help from the roads, the trees and the moon. They all refused to help her because they were  so occupied by their own problems (the roads were pissed off about everyone and everything walking on them). Finally she asked the sun, who agreed to both guide her and to put the dangerous people and creatures around the river of Tuonela to sleep while she was there.

She needed a way to get her dead son out of the river, so she asked the wizard-smith-dude Ilmarinen to make her an iron rake, which she then used to rake the deep stream with. At first she found nothing at all, then some pieces of her son's clothes, and finally downstream she started to catch little pieces of his body with the rake. She kept at it for ages, desperately trying to find all the pieces and carefully stitching everything back together. She called for help from Suonetar, the goddess of blood vessels, to help her fuse the veins and ligaments.

And finally we get to the part in the painting, where Lemminkšinen's mother has stitched him all back together and is asking a bumblebee to fly to Tapiola (Tapio is the god of the forests) to bring back some divine honey that will bring her son back to life, which it did. The end! And no, Hannu's mother is not going to come save him from anything here.

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