Tapio's People is a phrase from the Kalavala, a 19th-century work of epic poetry compiled by Elias Lönnrot from Karelian and Finnish oral folklore and mythology, telling epic story about the Creation of the Earth, describing the controversies and retaliatory voyages between the peoples of the land of Kalevala and Pohjola and their various protagonists and antagonists.
Tapio, also called Metsähine, or Hiisi, the Finnish god of the forest and ruler of the game therein. He was a personified form of the various forest spirits important to hunters dependent on the forest for their livelihood.
His wife Mielikki (see image just below) had a strong connection to bears...
Moss people (also known as wood people, the females known as moss maidens) come from Southern Germanic folklore and are a type of tree elf, tree spirit or fairy. By classification, they were a race of elves, similar to dwarves, the same size as children, "grey and old-looking, hairy, and clad in moss."
They were often but not always the object of the Wild Hunt. According to folklore, in order to escape the hunt they enter the trees that woodsmen have marked with a cross that will be chopped down.
The moss people are similar to a Hamadryad. Their lives are "attached to the trees; if any one causes by friction the inner bark to loosen a Wood-woman dies." They are thought to be small, with hair and clothes made of moss. Katharine Haworth informs that her family calls moss 'the fairy carpet'!
This painting represents a, very free and personal, take on the Finnish goddess Meilikki.
Mielikki is a Goddess of the Forests and the Hunt. She is said to have created the bear (the brown bear that is, not polar bear as depicted here). She is the Forest Healer who heals the paws of animals who have escaped traps and she rescues chicks that have fallen from their nests. Her name is derived from the old Finnish word mielu which means luck. She is also known as Metsänemä, Mother of the Forest. Brown bears were the most sacred of animals in Finland. Her husband is the forest god Tapio (see picture right above).
While painting her I was taken back to earlier times, the period of the most recent Ice Age in Scandinavia. I saw a vision of an earlier manifestation, where she was a goddess of the land under Northern Skies, long before the first trees (and they would have been birch trees) grew on this land and ultimately dense forests. When the Ice Cap stretched this far south, the ancestors of today's polar bears would have walked and stalked this sacred land....
I love playing my cello in the Forest – but I don’t often get a chance. I used to take my cello with me to shamanic training courses. I would creep out at daybreak to play, undisturbed and unobserved, in the woods.
One early morning a deer and her fawn came and stood listening only a short distance away.
Another morning I discovered that some people on my course had climbed a tree in my ‘outdoor concert hall’ (a small clearing) so they could listen but I would not see them.
Again another time I entered a dialogue with the Wind. I would play back what the Wind was saying. She would pause and give me the next phrase. It was full moon that day and a luminous darkness was descending over the woodland. It inspired me to make a painting titled Song of the Wind.
I'd always believed that the cello was a solitary instrument, but now I was starting to wonder if maybe I was the solitary one.
"The Holocene extinction, otherwise referred to as the sixth mass extinction or Anthropocene extinction, is an ongoing extinction event of species during the present Holocene epoch (with the more recent time sometimes called Anthropocene) as a result of human activity. The included extinctions span numerous families of plants and animals, including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fishes and invertebrates. With widespread degradation of highly biodiverse habitats such as coral reefs and rainforests, as well as other areas, the vast majority of these extinctions are thought to be undocumented, as the species are undiscovered at the time of their extinction, or no one has yet discovered their extinction. The current rate of extinction of species is estimated at 100 to 1,000 times higher than natural background rates."
This painting is all about using the human imagination as the powerful tool it is, see my third book: Medicine of the Imagination: An Impassioned Plea For Fearless Imagination.