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Cactus Gallery LA

VELLAMO, Mistress of Waters by artist Ulla Anobile

$ 200.00 $ 260.00
Paper mache, acrylics, 8” x 13”

VELLAMO, Mistress of Waters, is the female guardian of the watery realm in pre-Christian Finnish mythology. She is often mentioned as the ‘spouse’ of Ahti (or Ahto), the god of the seas.

In ancient Finnish folk poetry, their abode is called Ahtola, a large underwater mansion, where also various water spirits live, such as ‘Vellamo’s maidens’, and tiny finger-sized men who sometimes rise to the surface to perform miraculous deeds.

Vellamo also has a herd of ‘water cows’ whom she tends. From the various spell poems recorded in ‘Ancient Spell Poems of the Finnish People’ (Suomen kansan muinaisia loitsurunoja), it becomes clear that this cattle means swarms of fish. The spells always petition Vellamo to release her cattle and direct it toward the petitioner’s fishing nets.

In many of such verses, Vellamo is described as wearing sea foam clothes, a reed shirt and a blue cap. In later times, she also took on the appearance of a mermaid; but originally, her image was not yet blended with that piece of international folklore.

By temperament, Vellamo is not always benevolent. She extends her favors only to those who treat her, and her realm, with due respect. In a sense, both she and Ahti ARE the landscape. They are embodiments of the spiritual, or holy, aspect of nature, which demands our reverence.

One the old Finnish healing spells begins with this line: ‘Vesi on vanhin voitehista’ (water is the oldest of salves). This saying is still known, and used, today.

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