Marja-Leena Rathje
Home ::: Folk Legends & Myths

artists in conversation

Yesterday afternoon we went to see an exhibition at the Seymour Art Gallery called Odd Occurrences: Narrative in the Art of Kristin Bjornerud, Tamara Bond, Tomoyo Ihaya, and Carrie Walker. Here is the exhibition statement: The artists in Odd... [Continue Reading...]

Hallowe'en time

BOO!! Too busy in the studio and too tired and sore after some heavy gardening this past week, I'm taking the lazy route and reposting my spookiest image from two years ago. To put you and me in the... [Continue Reading...]

Marja-Leena | 30/10/2011 | 6 comments
themes: Canada and BC, Current Events, Folk Legends & Myths



That day in the woods when I was looking up at the otherworldly looking fungi on a tree, I nearly stepped on this feathery mask on the ground not far from it. A child may have dropped it... was... [Continue Reading...]

Marja-Leena | 04/04/2011 | 8 comments
themes: Arkeo, Folk Legends & Myths, Found Objects, Photoworks


lunar eclipse at winter solstice

Photograph by Heribert Proepper, AP Tonight or actually in the wee hours of tomorrow morning, if you are lucky with the weather and live in the northern hemisphere, you can celebrate the Winter Solstice in grand fashion with a... [Continue Reading...]

Marja-Leena | 20/12/2010 | 9 comments
themes: Current Events, Folk Legends & Myths, Neat stuff


old Finnish jewelry

Somewhat related to my 'textures of home' series, but much more personal, featured here are some very old Finnish pendants and a brooch that have been passed on to me. These styles were and still are commonly worn with... [Continue Reading...]

'Tis the shortest day

and the longest night for us in the northern hemisphere. It's a very dark and rainy day here in Vancouver starting strangely at an unseasonal high of 10C (50 F) and to drop down to 5C (41F) this afternoon. But... [Continue Reading...]

Marja-Leena | 21/12/2009 | 9 comments
themes: Being an Artist, Culture, Folk Legends & Myths


Lucia and lights

How lovely, on Lucia's Day to have our first real snowfall, light flakes slowly dancing down, the frozen ground now white and an icing-sugar-like dusting on evergreen branches. It set the right mood for finishing up the holiday letters... [Continue Reading...]

K.A. Laity's Unikirja: Dream Book

I want to take a short break from the subject of our recent trip to tell you about a special book that I'm very excited to learn is now published and available: Unikirja: Dream Book. Author Kate A. Laity has... [Continue Reading...]

Marja-Leena | 31/05/2009 | 8 comments
themes: Books, Finland, Estonia & Finno-Ugric, Folk Legends & Myths


Easter weekend

spring, rye grass, pussy willows, birch twigs, tissue paper flowers virpovitsa whisking, children with cowbells decorated eggs, egg hunt, dancing sun mämmi porridge, flying witches, begging children All of the above are a curious blend of Eastern and Western... [Continue Reading...]

Women's Month interviews

Writer and blogger-friend Kate A. Laity of Wombat's World is doing an inspiring series of interviews of women

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feast of Stephen

Good King Wenceslas looked out On the feast of Stephen When the snow lay round about Deep and crisp and even The words to the carol "Good King Wenceslas" were written by John Mason Neale and published in 1853,... [Continue Reading...]

Looking back: Joulupukki

Isn't it fascinating how the Santa Claus figure has evolved in different countries? In Finland, the jolly fellow is called 'Joulupukki' and his home is on Korvatunturi Mountain, in Finnish Lapland.

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Tove Jansson biography

Way back in February of 2005, I wrote about trolls and my love of folk legends, myths and fairy tales especially anything Finnish. In that context came up the name of internationally well-known Tove Jansson and her Moomintrolls. There... [Continue Reading...]

Marja-Leena | 20/05/2007 | 13 comments
themes: Books, Finland, Estonia & Finno-Ugric, Folk Legends & Myths


May Eve and Day

This April 30th I'm once again reminded by Helsingin Sanomat that today and tomorrow are Vappu or May Eve and May Day, "one of Finland's most boisterous (and liquid) annual festivals". May Day in Finland is a national holiday,... [Continue Reading...]

Kalevala and Vietnam

I know that the Finnish national epic the Kalevala is read around the world, translated as it is into 61 languages. So I've been quite intrigued to read a fascinating story about two Vietnamese women and their involvement with... [Continue Reading...]

wombat's world

checked out a link back to my blog from Wombat's World -the writer was going to Finland to see the Astuvansalmi rock paintings!

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Toronto's Lord of the Rings

"The much-anticipated musical theatre version of The Lord of the Rings made its formal début in a gala première in Toronto on Thursday evening, and the reactions of the audience suggested that the massive production would not be leaving... [Continue Reading...]

Kalevala Event

   ... [Continue Reading...]

Marja-Leena | 22/02/2006 | be the first to comment
themes: Culture, Folk Legends & Myths, Music


Santa or Joulupukki

(A straw moble or "himmeli" - scanned from a clipping in my files, from an old Finnish magazine possibly Kotiliesi) It's now five nights to Christmas Eve and my thoughts are dancing around this rather magical time. I'm really... [Continue Reading...]

Happy Halloween

(photo - EKR) Tonight is Halloween and all the little boys and girls will be out trick-or-treating. Our granddaughter is coming over to visit a few houses, then help answer the door in her "ghost princess" costume and scare... [Continue Reading...]

Marja-Leena | 31/10/2005 | 5 comments
themes: Culture, Folk Legends & Myths


World Myths and Legends in Art

Detail of birds, Malagan Pole 19th century Papua New Guinea "Myths are stories that explain why the world is the way it is. All cultures have them. Throughout history, artists have been inspired by myths and legends and have... [Continue Reading...]

Marja-Leena | 03/09/2005 | 3 comments
themes: Anthropology, Culture, Folk Legends & Myths


writers and hoodoos

What are hoodoos? Do the hoodoos have native petroglyphs or pictographs? Is "hoodoo" an aboriginal word?

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'Rings' debut in Toronto

"The much-anticipated stage adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings trilogy will have its world premiere in Toronto, producers announced in London Tuesday. The $27-million show, co-produced by Toronto's Mirvish Productions, will open in March 2006 at... [Continue Reading...]

Finnish folklore inspires

A news item in VietNam News, via News Room Finland caught my eye - "Finnish oral traditions inspire painting exhibition in Ha Noi" (links are mine): "Two female artists from Viet Nam and Hungary are displaying their interpretations of... [Continue Reading...]

all about trolls

Illustration by Rudolf Koivu, "The troll and the shepherdess" in "Matka Satumaahan" (A Trip to the Land of Fairytales) by Raul Roine, Otava, Helsinki 1954 Sometimes I wonder if some readers think I'm silly when I write about my... [Continue Reading...]

Marja-Leena | 04/02/2005 | 7 comments
themes: Books, Finland, Estonia & Finno-Ugric, Folk Legends & Myths


the sixth day

Six Geese A-Laying, Illustration by Jan Brett on a Christmas card, from the book The Twelve Days of Christmas, published by Dodd, Mead & Co., NY A little bit of whimsy, forgive me, as some ever so slight relief... [Continue Reading...]

Marja-Leena | 31/12/2004 | be the first to comment
themes: Culture, Folk Legends & Myths


winter solstice

"The winter solstice is again upon the Northern Hemisphere, and though the year's shortest day heralds the onset of winter it also promises the gradual return of the sun after a prolonged period of darkness. That there are holidays... [Continue Reading...]

Marja-Leena | 21/12/2004 | be the first to comment
themes: Culture, Folk Legends & Myths


snowflakes & scary santa

Today's blog travels yielded some seasonal treats like this lovely photogallery of snowflakes and some of the science behind these nature's artworks. In case you missed it, also have a look at something a bit related - frost fractals.... [Continue Reading...]

Marja-Leena | 20/12/2004 | be the first to comment
themes: Culture, Folk Legends & Myths


Aurora Borealis

Yesterday I read on Amy's blog Ever so Humble about the current solar storms taking place (lots of great links here!). Tom Montag writes about seeing the Northern Lights in Wisconsin USA - quite far south, I thought. Now... [Continue Reading...]

Marja-Leena | 09/11/2004 | 3 comments
themes: Folk Legends & Myths, Photography


pumpkin moon

How fortunate we are to have a clear night to see this total lunar eclipse. NASA calls it a "blood moon" but it's more like a glowing pumpkin in the sky over the Vancouver area of British Columbia, something... [Continue Reading...]

Marja-Leena | 27/10/2004 | be the first to comment
themes: Folk Legends & Myths


Lord of the Rings musical

Helsingin Sanomat has a story that really tickles my Finnish funnybone as it makes the intriguing connection between Tolkien's Lord of the Rings and Finland. The makers of London's West End musical Lord of the Rings (Flash webpage) have... [Continue Reading...]

Shamans & Storytellers

Back in February, I posted about an event presented by the Vancouver Society of Storytellers. One of these storytellers was Kira Van Deusen, who "brings to professional storytelling and music a background which includes a BA in Russian Language... [Continue Reading...]

Marja-Leena | 26/09/2004 | 4 comments
themes: Ethnicity, Folk Legends & Myths


Karelia's Rock Art & History

Andrew Heninen is a Karelian (Finnish-Russian) programmer with a keen interest in the history of lost Finnish territories. Karelia (or Karjala in Finnish) is a territory which straddles the present-day border between Finland and Russia, and is home to... [Continue Reading...]

summer solstice

Depending on where you are in the Northern Hemisphere, it is the longest day of the year. Actual dates of celebrations vary in countries, often a weekend nearest the true solstice for convenience. It is mostly a northern European... [Continue Reading...]

Marja-Leena | 21/06/2004 | 2 comments
themes: Culture, Folk Legends & Myths


monsters and ghosts

How is your doppelganger or fylgia today? What do nixies, corrigans, dziwozony, yuki onna, erynnes and ajatar have in common (hint: they are all female)? What is a basilisk? Curious? Check out the encyclopedia of monsters, mythological creatures and... [Continue Reading...]

Marja-Leena | 30/05/2004 | be the first to comment
themes: Folk Legends & Myths


the artist's childhood

As a child I loved reading books and fairy tales were my very favourite. My first books were in Finnish written by Finnish authors, but most loved were the tales collected by the Grimm Brothers. This edition, a very... [Continue Reading...]

Marja-Leena | 19/05/2004 | 1 comment
themes: Being an Artist, Books, Folk Legends & Myths, History


More on Full Circle

A few days ago I wrote about the Newfoundland and Labrador Museum exhibition commemorating the events surrounding the Viking landfall in L'Anse aux Meadows - Full Circle: First Contact. Then National Geographic News posted an interesting article called "Sagas"... [Continue Reading...]

Marja-Leena | 14/05/2004 | be the first to comment
themes: Folk Legends & Myths, History


The Ainu

Feeding my fascination for ancient as well as the indigenous cultures of the world, I was excited to find at the rich Mysterium** a post about the Ainu: "A beautiful audio-visual presentation on Japan's Indigenous Ainu people, their origins,... [Continue Reading...]

The Spell of Rock Art

A prize possession of mine is the 2003 Finno-Ugric Calendar published by the Estonian Society of Prehistoric Art and the Fenno-Ugria Foundation. The photo work was done by society member Loit Joekalda, whom I met in Tallinn in 2002. It... [Continue Reading...]

preserving languages

Recently NewScientist published an interview of linguist Alexandra Aikhenvald. Here are some excerpts : "Imagine how different politics would be if debates were conducted in Tariana, an Amazonian language in which it is a grammatical error to report something... [Continue Reading...]

Marja-Leena | 16/03/2004 | 2 comments
themes: Ethnicity, Folk Legends & Myths, Linguistics


Vedic Hymn of Creation

The study of ancient art, cultural anthropology and ethnology inevitably, and happily, seem to lead to reading about the many creation myths around the world. Of course, most familiar to me is the Kalevala Epic of Finland and a... [Continue Reading...]

Marja-Leena | 11/03/2004 | be the first to comment
themes: Folk Legends & Myths



The Lord of the Rings mania has hit the schools! BBC has an amusing article "Do you speak Elf?", about Birmingham schoolboys who have volunteered for lessons in Sindarin, the "conversational" form of Elvish, invented by Lord of the... [Continue Reading...]

Marja-Leena | 04/03/2004 | be the first to comment
themes: Films, Folk Legends & Myths, Linguistics


Event: Kalevala Runos

Is this synchronicity? I have just received an email notice about an event this weekend called Kalevala Runos. It is presented by the Vancouver Society of Storytelling. Their link is for last year's event and because there is no... [Continue Reading...]

The Telling of Tales

At Pericat, a blog that I enjoy looking at as well as reading, I noticed a link for the Kalevala. My curiosity made me write in and inquire "how come?" Pericat wrote a beautiful and moving response as an... [Continue Reading...]

Marja-Leena | 23/02/2004 | 2 comments
themes: Folk Legends & Myths, Linguistics


Whale Rider

I saw Whale Rider for the first time this weekend, on DVD. Though I do not intend to be a film critic on this blog, this movie is so astounding that I would like to share my excitement about... [Continue Reading...]

Marja-Leena | 22/02/2004 | be the first to comment
themes: Ethnicity, Films, Folk Legends & Myths


KALEVALA and The Lord of the Rings

As a Finnish-Canadian artist, I am drawn to learning more about the very ancient roots of my family in the Old World. In writing about these discoveries on this weblog, I hope to share some of these with other... [Continue Reading...]

A Europe of Tales

This is a fascinating Internet-based programme featuring five series of tales and legends from different parts of Europe. The interactive site presents 18 stories with the means of contemporary multimedia, boldly combining art and science, the mythical tales of... [Continue Reading...]

Marja-Leena | 13/02/2004 | be the first to comment
themes: Folk Legends & Myths


Rock art research

In my research into the history and art of my ancestors, a wealth of information has come from Loit Joekalda of Estonia.. He believes the best researcher of the rock art of the Fenno-Ugrians is Väinö Poikalainen, chair of... [Continue Reading...]