top of page
  • Writer's pictureJani Heino

A new dawn for swans of Tuonela

Updated: Sep 26

Whooper swan (Cygnus cygnus) is one of the largest birds occurring in Finland. Some decades ago, it was close to becoming extinct, but has thereafter increased in the numbers of breeding pairs. Over the last two years, I have been photographing these guys several times while skiing or hiking in my home region. Swans are sympathetic and friendly birds that often allow you to approach quite close to them before they start swimming away or rise on their wings.

Last week while I was examining the littoral areas of a reservoir, I spotted these two swans that obviously had spent the previous night in a sheltered bay. The setting in the early morning was excellent, as the air temperature was below zero degrees centigrade, and vapour was thus pouring on water surface. I ended up having several good photos, one of which I share here.

I would call this photo as: “A New Dawn for Swans of Tuonela” as per the national epic ‘Kalevala’ of Finland. Plural in 'swans' included deliberately. To those abroad, ‘Tuonela’ and ‘swan of Tuonela’ are part of the story in Kalevala. Please, read this for a brief English summary:

I first shared this photo via email to several people, along with a small story that occurred to me while at the spot of photographing the swans. Some people thought if I had included hidden meanings in the spontaneous photo and story of the swans swimming in the mist. They were right. The hidden meanings I had in mind when sending the photo are as follows.

If you read the outline of the story via the link above, Tuonela is a place where both good and bad people are destined to spend their afterlife as wandering ghosts. The original “swan of Tuonela” is considered a black swan that guards the river and casts death spells on people. In my extension of the story, I considered two white swans to cast 'counter-spells' that allow good people to exit Tuonela and be free again. Hence, they defeat the spells of the single black swan by mere larger numbers. If I take the story to the present-day situation, I consider Tuonela analogous to the matrix we are living in. There are some forces, here portrayed by the white swans, that allow people to be awakened and to escape from the matrix of lies we have been living in for a long time. The mist can be considered ‘fog of war’. Moreover, 'a new dawn' in my extended story refers to the good times that will begin hopefully very soon. And keep in mind that it is always darkest just before the dawn…

Take care and be safe.

bottom of page