In Finnish folklore, Ajatar or Ajattara (also spelled Aiätär or Aijotar) is an evil female spirit.
In finnish folklore Ajatar is an evil female spirit. She lives in the woods located at the mountains of Pohjola; she is described as having "hair-plait reached to her heels and whose breasts hung down to her knees" similar to the swedish Skogsnufva, danish 'sea-woman', or the wildfraulein of the eifel.
Ajatar is the granddaughter of Hiisi (the master of the woods and spreader of disease) and is the master of Lempo and Gnomes. Through her connections with Hiisi and Lempo, she is said to spread disease and pestilence.
She is closely associated with serpents, and is often depicted in modern art as a dragon or half-humanoid and serpentine figure.
The word “ajatar” is possibly derived from the Finnish word ajaa, “to pursue" (also, "to drive"). The feminine suffix “-tar-” appears in several Finnish names, including a variation of Louhi (Louhetar, Loviatar, Louhiatar) and Syöjätär (syoda ‘to eat,’ with the feminine suffix of -tar, means ‘devourer, vampire’). Applying this to Ajatar, the verb ajaa is suffixed by the feminine "-tar," translating as “female pursuer.” The name may as well have its root in aika 'time', from where ajatar would be an equally regular derivative. Or both. Aika and ajaa might be etymologically connected through the sense of time, like death, hunting oneself.
In other media
Although Ajatar does not appear by name in documented Finnish folk songs, she appears in fiction inspired by the Kalevala and in modern fantasy interpretations.
- In the second act of Aleksis Kivi’s play, Kullervo (1860), Ajatar is described as ferocious and shameless, encouraging the protagonist to kill his master’s family. Ajatar states that she lives in the mountains, has Lempo and Gnomes in her service, and that her mother’s father is Hiisi. Ajatar is further described as “nasty” and compared to a “vicious wife who rejoices in evils.”
- In The Eye of Disparager: Book One of the Legend of the Bloodstone written by Brett Stuart Smith, Ajatar is a beautiful woman with the upper body of a green scaled woman and the lower half made up of many snakes. She has serpentine fangs and seductive eyes, and is the mother of all snakes.
- Ajatar is mentioned twice in Matt Smith’s Big Game: Movie Tie-in Edition. Smith referred to her as “the Devil of the Woods who appeared as a dragon and made you sick if you so much as looked at her” and later associations a force of nature to her destructive powers.
- Fantasy author, Philip Mazza, portrays the Ajatar as a race of fire breathing dragons, causing pestilence and disease. In his book, The Harrow: From Under a Tree, Mazza describes two races of Ajatar, black and red, which fight amongst each other. One race, the black dragons, are evil whereas the red race are described as more benevolent.
In some finnish translations of The Bible the term ajatar is used to refer to certain demons or devils :
- In Leviticus [17.7] of the Finnish Bible (1776 ed., see also Bible translations into Finnish), a variation of Ajatar’s name (Ajattaroille) appears to use her as a general devil or demon and not a separate entity.
- "Ja ei millään muotoa enää uhriansa uhraaman ajattaroille, joiden kanssa he huorin tehneet ovat. Se pitää oleman heille heidän sukukunnissansa ijankaikkinen sääty,"
- Ajatar Rising by Epic North Music (2013).
- Ajatar by Winter Gardens (2011).
- Äijo, Louhi, and Loviatar, and Syöjätär - finnish folklore figures with some similar characteristics.
- Rose 1996, p. 8.
- Kivi 1859, l. 219.
- Abercromby 1898, p. 318.
- Kivi 1859, l. 221.
- Kořínek 1940, p. 288.
- Halonen 1961.
- Lönnrot 1988.
- Kivi 1859, ll. 213-257.
- Kivi 1859, l. 212.
- Kivi 1859, ll. 219-220.
- Kivi 1859, l. 232.
- Kivi 1859, l. 250.
- Smith 2012, pp. 196-197.
- Smith 2015.
- Mazza 2014, p. 57.
- Mazza 2014, p. 196.
- Abercromby, John (1898), The pre-and proto-historic Finns : both Eastern and Western, with the magic songs of the West Finns, 1
- Abercromby, John (1898a), The pre-and proto-historic Finns : both Eastern and Western, with the magic songs of the West Finns, 2
- Vuoden 1776 raamattu, 1776
- Kivi, Aleksis (1859), Kullervo
- Kořínek, Josef M. (1940), "Odkud Je Slovanské Aščerъ?", Listy Filologické / Folia Philologica, 67 (3/4)
- Lönnrot, Elias (1988), Fridberg, Eino (ed.), Kalevala (4th ed.), Otava Publishing Company
- Mazza, Phillip (2014), The Harrow: From Under a Tree, Omni Publishers of NY
- Halonen, George, ed. (1961), "Pursue", English-Finish Dictionary, Tyomies Society Print
- Rose, Carol (1996), Spirits, Fairies, Gnomes, and Goblins: An Encyclopedia of the Little People, ABC-CLIO
- Smith, Brett Stuart (2012), The Eye of Disparager: Book One of the Legend of the Bloodstone, Partridge Singapore
- Smith, Matt (2015), Big Game: Movie Tie-in Edition, Scholastic Inc.