While spending time with my parents in the Upper Peninsula, I began exploring Finnish mythology as a way to enrich my own understanding of and connect to local culture. In doing so, I “discovered” Finland’s national epic poem, The Kalevala, and the story of Lemminkäinen’s resurrection made possible by his mother and a bee.
What really struck me, aside from visceral descriptions of the mother’s work to piece her son back together and the problem of never naming the woman who literally saves her son from his own stupidity, was how the mother persuaded the bee that it could fly to heaven an collect the nectar of the gods:
“Thou canst surely fly to heaven,
To the seventh of the heavens,
O’er the Moon, beneath the sunshine,
Through the dim and distant starlight.
On the first day, flying upward,
Thou wilt near the Moon in heaven,
Fan the brow of Kootamoinen;
On the second thou canst rest thee
On the shoulders of Otava;
On the third day, flying higher,
Rest upon the seven starlets,
On the heads of Hetewanè;
Short the journey that is left thee,
Inconsiderable the distance
To the home of mighty Ukko,
To the dwellings of the blessed.”
In other words, she’s saying you accomplish a fantastic feat the way you would an ordinary one — one step at a time.