As many other myths the Origin of the Ale can be explained in various ways. The rustic people saw the myth as a tale. A tale of a goddess Osmotar who managed to brew the first ale. In the myth she first creates between her palms a squirrel whom she askes to fetch some cones from a spruce. Seeing that the ale cannot be brewed with these she then creates a fox and tells it to bring her legumes from a grass. The ale will not ferment with these either. Osmotar then creates a marten:


Go, my marten, fly my little bird

cross the river, pass another

and there beyond the third one

find hogs fighting, wild boars battling

Go, my marten, fly my little bird

gather the slobber

and bring it to me

With this slobber from the fighting wild boars Osmotar finally manages to start the first ale fermenting.

The tale has also been interpreted by scholars in another way. The word Osmotar can be derived to a word meaning the sediments of a plant juice which is used as a source for the yeast.

The use of saliva when brewing ale is a well-known and wide-spread habit. For instance the Indians of South-America use human saliva to make ale. Also the natives of Siberia use the same method to start the fermentation in the ale.

The ale which was brewed for festivities was made from common materials. Some brought the corn, some the yeast etc. The sacred ale was brewed especially for feasts like Ukon Vakat and the bear feast, Karhun Peijaiset. In these feasts there was much singing and another myth tells how the sage Väinämöinen started to chant old tales with the power of the ale. He chanted continuously for three days.

The Sacred Ale was an important insitution which brought together and united the people as a social-pietist group, made the gods favourable and elated the spirits from the grayness of the every day life (Martti Haavio).

The skull of the bear was then carried in a procession to a sacred tall pine and fixed high on a branch among other bear skulls. At this point there followed a chant as a dialogue between the killed bear and the primordial Mother of the Bear who was called Hongotar.

In the chant the bear regrets its fate. The bones of the bear were then buried under the pine. One important function of this rite was to pinerevent the skull from decomposing.

The skull of the bear was a holy object and to destroy it was taboo. It was strictly forbidden to remove the skulls from the tree.

The idea of this conservation was to make it possible for the spirit of the bear to return to earth to be killed again.

An old photo of a sacred pine with a bear skull.