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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Evil moon daughter brings out wizard's dark side

Adapted by Amy Friedman

Illustration by Jill Gilliland

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The Saami, also known as Lapps, are nomadic reindeer herders who live in Finland, Norway, Sweden and Russia.

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"The Northern Wizards" is a Saami legend.

Once upon a time, when the Northern Lights danced over the snow and reindeer roamed the forests, there lived in the land two brothers who had the power of great wizards.

The wizards could turn themselves into any shape through magic chants and beating their magic drums. People believed the wizards sometimes inhabited the bodies of the eagles soaring across the sky, or the reindeer skimming the mountain slopes, or the foxes trotting across the fields.

Each wizard owned his own hunting ground, divided by a wide, cold lake, and for many years, the people called on the wizards to help them when trouble came.

Sometimes they needed help herding reindeer. In bad seasons, the wizards used their magic to create a bountiful harvest.

In the darkest days of winter, people often got lost, and the wizards always found them.

Beneath the earth, in the cold, dark underworld, the wicked moon daughter sat watching and listening to all that happened above her.

The hideous creature had a horrid face and an even uglier heart. She wished only to bring darkness to the world.

One day, the wicked moon daughter transformed herself into a blackbird and flew over the lake toward the home of one of the wizards. There she hovered overhead and began to sing.

"Your brother is the wizard of all goodness and light.

"Your brother on the far side of the lake rules day and night.

"Your brother is most loved by all the people, make no mistake.

"The people love the wizard on the far side of the lake."

When the wizard heard the song, doubt began to creep into his heart.

Sure enough, as the wizard listened to her song, his heart turned from playful joy to sour envy.

"Why should he be more beloved than I?" he muttered to the blazing fire.

The wicked moon daughter flapped her wings with pleasure, for she could see she had changed the heart of the wizard, who stood and roared, "I'll show the people true power!"

The next morning, the wizard of the newly dark heart stood beside the lake watching his brother climb into his boat.

When he had reached the middle of the lake, the dark wizard muttered a spell.

At once a terrible winter storm engulfed the lake, carrying ice pellets and blinding snow and churning up the water.

The wind lifted the wizard's boat out of the water and flung him into the frigid depths.

If the wizard had been only a mortal, he would have drowned, but he chanted a spell and turned himself into a little fish. He swam toward the shore.

As he swam, the dark wizard muttered another spell, sending an enormous pike after the little fish. That pike swallowed the little fish whole.

Months passed. The people called upon their wizards for help, but the dark wizard did not always answer their calls.

Darkness remained in his heart, but after some time, he began to miss his brother.

When the wicked moon daughter saw this, she turned into a blackbird again and flew to the wizard's home. This time she sang this song:

"The people mourn the wizard of the far side of the lake.

"The people weep and cry and their hearts ache,

"And in this way he rules both day and night.

"He is the ruler of all goodness and light."

When the dark wizard realized that the people loved their lost wizard even more than they once had, envy again conquered all other emotion.

The next day, he set his net upon the lake and caught a lot of fish, including the huge pike that had swallowed his brother.

He carried the pike to the people.

Standing among them he cried, "Watch me now! Inside this pike is your beloved wizard, but I can destroy him."

With that he plunged a knife into the pike, but the wizard of goodness stepped out of the pike before the knife could strike.

He stood before the people, whole again, and when he saw his brother holding the knife, he understood what had happened.

"My brother has brought black magic into the world!" he cried.

The people then understood that they must never call upon the wizard of the dark heart, and so he ran far, far away.

Still, the wicked moon daughter remained nearby.

Sometimes she transformed herself into a blackbird and hovered over the land, waiting for a chance to bring darkness and despair.

Each time she flapped her wings in fury, mosquitoes and gnats swarmed in the air, and the people saw that evil was near, and that they must be careful not to offer it power by letting it into their lives.