A creation from chaos story of the Finno‐Urgic peoples is contained in the Finnish national epic, the Kalevala, especially in the first two runes or sacred chants. Central to the myth, which also has earth‐diver and cosmic egg aspects, are the familiar watery chaos and the first mother (see also Creation from a Cosmic Egg; Earth‐Diver Creation).
In the beginning there were the primeval waters and Sky. Sky's daughter was Ilmatar, who lived alone and one day drifted down to the waters to rest. There she floated and swam for 700 years longing for more life. There was a day when, floating on her back with one knee raised out of the water, she noticed a beautiful bird, a teal, fluttering over the seas in search of a resting place to make a nest. Ilmatar, the Mother of the Waters, then raised her knee farther so the teal thought it was a dry island. The bird made a nest there and laid six golden eggs and one iron one.
The little teal sat on her nest warming the seven eggs and also heating the knee of Ilmatar. The heat became so great that it began to burn the uplifted knee. Finally, Ilmater could not stand it and she jerked her knee into the water to cool it. This dislodged the eggs, which fell into the water and were shattered by the wind and waves.
Then something full of wonder came to be. From the lower part of one of the eggshells land developed, and from the top was made the sky as we know it. The moon and the stars came from the egg whites, and the yolk became the sun.
After several hundred more years of floating and admiring the results of the broken eggs, Ilmatar began acting on her urge to create. Full of the power of life, she only needed to point to create cliffs and inlets. Her foot‐prints became pools for fish. The movement of her arms made beaches. She made everything that was (see also Animism).
One day Vainamoinen was born of Ilmatar. The sea was his father. He swam for years on the sea before landing on a barren island. When he, the first man, stood, he looked into the sky and asked help of the Great Bear in the stars. Help came in the form of a boy carrying seeds, which he scattered at Vainamoinen's command. The seeds became trees and plants and covered the barren land. One seed became the oak, which after many years became so large it brought darkness to the land.
Vainamoinen prayed to his mother for help, and she sent a little man with a copper ax. The man grew into a giant; with his now huge ax he chopped down the oak, and light was restored to the world.