Jumala: That’s Finnish for God

Updated on October 7, 2019
Dean Traylor profile image

Dean Traylor is a freelance writer and teacher who writes about various subjects including education and creative writing.

Ukko aka Jumala
Ukko aka Jumala | Source

One word popped up as a translation for Jumala. Wordhippo.com, an Internet dictionary site, kept it succinct by stating the term means “God”. The word’s origin comes from the Northern Baltic regions of Finland, Estonia and Western Russia.In particular, it came from the Finno-Ugric people, and their unique language.

There are variations of words within the Finnish language. According to Wordhippo.com , they are:

  • Jumaluus, jumalolento (Deity)
  • Jumaluus, jumalallisuus, jumalolento, jumaluusoppi, teologia (Divinity)

Either way, the word is the holiest within that language. Moreover, it has come to represent the name of the Christian god, Jehovah, in the Baltic region.

Jumala works in mysterious ways.

However, Jumala isn't just the name of the current lord and savior. The name is much older than the arrival of the Christian god to the region. According to Finnish mythology, Jumala was the name of their most important deity.

The name, these days, has managed to go beyond representing current religion and ancient mythology. The modern myth, Marvel Comics Universe (MCU) used the term to name a team of supernatural beings (that happen to have Finnish origins).

How has the name of an ancient deity become so revered in modern times? Jumala works in mysterious ways.

Heaven and Sky

Jumala is one of the few surviving reminders of Finland’s polytheistic past. He represented the god of sky and heaven to many in the region including Lapland tribes -- such as the Sami people -- and the ancient Estonians (who referred to him as Jamal). According to accounts, Jumala was the god of all gods who created the heaven, the universe and Finland.

In later years, the god once known as Jumala donned the new name of Ukko (derived from the Finnish word, “ukkonen” meaning thunderstorm). In all likelihood, this happened when the Sami and other Finnish language tribes merged or intermingled. Whatever the case may be, Jumala went from naming one god to referring to all gods within their religions.

Jumala as Ukko

While the god who donned the name of Jumala became Ukko, this didn’t change his importance in Finnish and Estonian mythology. Ukko took on the role of divine sky god as well as god of thunder. In addition to his previous duties, Ukko did the following:

  • Controlled the weather
  • Brought rain to the crops
  • Helped fertilize the world

Interestingly, Ukko shared important traits with gods and deities from other myths. One example, Ukko, a thunder god, carried a magic hammer called Ukonvasara. This is a direct comparison to the Norse Thunder God and Marvel superhero, Thor (who also carried a mighty hammer called Mjolnir).

Unfortunately, Jumala/Ukko shared another trait with other deities from Lapland and Baltic regions; the narratives that explained who these gods were barely survived the test of time. Many of their origin stories were fragmented or lost. In part, much of the information has been handed down through generations, orally. It wouldn’t be until the 19th century that these gods were recorded in a book. In that time, however, another force swept through the area that would do away with the old gods and, once again, alter the meaning of Jumala.

Thor and Jumala (Ukko) are often depicted as the same way. This image has been used by various publications to represent the two deities.
Thor and Jumala (Ukko) are often depicted as the same way. This image has been used by various publications to represent the two deities. | Source

Christianity Converts Jumala

Eventually Christianity reached the shores of Finland. By 1026, many converted (voluntarily or by force). Fortunately, much of the Finno-Ugric language survived. This included the term Jumala. By that time, Jumala was a general term for god; however, the newly converted Christians restored the name to signify a specific god.

Still, many things were lost in the conversion. Old Finnish religious relics that represented their deities were banned. Their stories were labeled as a form of paganism. The new monotheistic religion replaced the polytheistic one. The term Jamala may have survived, but the name and entity that was Ukko didn’t. The old ways and customs, it appeared were gone for good.

The Kalevala

The old stories of the gods may have lost its importance to the people after Christianity arrived. But, it didn’t mean they vanished entirely. Some tribes within the Lapland held on to the ancient stories in the form of folktales and epic poems passed down from one generation to the next through oral traditions.

In the 1800s, a Finnish nationalist saved the original Jumala and his mythological realm from obscurity. Elias Lönnrot, a philosopher and collector of traditional Finnish oral poetry amassed and recorded several poems and folktales between 1835 and 1836. The two-volume collection came to be known as The Kalevala.

Some scholars credit the collection with awakening national fervor among the Finns in the early 1900s.

The Kalevala got its name from Kalian, a Finnish language group spoken in the Russian Republic of Karelia. It is considered by some to be similar to the dialect spoken in eastern Finland.

It became a significant collection. It preserved 22,795 verses of ancient Baltic folklore poems about the various ancient gods from the region. Its importance was political, too. Some scholars credit the collection with awakening national fervor among the Finns in the early 1900s. This led to its independence from Russia in 1917.

Jumala, Comic Book Heroes

Enter a new mythos: Marvel Comics has had a knack for bringing back ancient deities from world mythologies. Thor was the first to open the doors and Jumala – this time the name of a team – made a comeback. In fact, Jumala -- also known as the Kalevalans -- owed its resurgence to the Norse God-turned superhero when they first appeared in Thor#300 in 1980.

In many respects, Marvel Comics kept the Jumala origin faithful to its original source; they emerged in Finland and were revered and worshiped by the Sami and ancient Finnish people of Northern Europe in 500 BC.

The Jumala. Ukko is in the center.
The Jumala. Ukko is in the center. | Source

Still, as part of its MCU, Marvel Comics added a lot more to it their origin. These additions included:

  • They were not gods
  • They were a “humanoid race of extradimensional beings.”
  • They came from a place called Taivas, which according to marvel.fandom’s Marvel Database is a “small pocket-dimension adjacent to Earth.”
  • They entered Earth’s realm through “An interdimensional nexus between Taivas and Earth known as Linnunrata or the “Path of Birds” that once existed near Finland.”

They’re even given credit for creating Finland. In the MCU “history” the first Jumala, Ilmarinen (a Finnish term for divine), “freed ancient Finland by shattering a Cosmic Egg with is hammer.” Later, he shaped Finland from the remnants of the Cosmic Egg. After that, he turned over the world to Ukko and his wife Akka (an important goddess in Finnish mythology).

The origin in the database is exhaustive. It integrated much of the original myth with MCU’s. In addition, it weaved other mythologies such as Nordic and Greek into its backstory. Interestingly, it included the Hyborian Age, which was the realm of both the literary and comic book version of Conan the Barbarian (in fact, there’s reference to Jumala in The Savage Sword of Conan #39).

A Strong Legacy

Today, there are a few popular sayings in the Finnish language, especially when it pertains to religion. They are (from Wordhippo.com):

  • Jumala siunatkoon sinua (god bless you)
  • Jumala on armollinen (god is gracious)
  • Jumala rakkauden (god is love) and
  • Mahtava Jumala (a mighty god)

These words of divinity keep the word Jumala alive. In addition, they harken back to the time when Jumala named one god who ruled the sky, as well as a time the word came to represent all Finnish gods and every other “god” to follow.

The legacy for the god and the word are vast. And with Marvel Comics incorporating Ukko and other Finnish gods in its vast MCU, Jumala will be term that will enter a larger mythos that includes an entire world outside the Northern most region of Europe.

Source

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

    © 2019 Dean Traylor

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment
      • JC Scull profile image

        JC Scull 

        5 days ago from Gainesville, Florida

        Very interesting!

      • pstraubie48 profile image

        Patricia Scott 

        6 days ago from sunny Florida

        Very interesting...I did not know any of this information that you have provided and now will need to find more to read even more. thank you for sharing Angels are headed your way this morning ps

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, owlcation.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://owlcation.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
      ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)