Finnish legends and auroral displays in Second Life

Suomi - Finland; Inara Pey, March 2016, on FlickrSuomi – Finland – click any image for full size

Featured in a recent Destination Guide Highlights blog post from the Lab, is an entry for Suomi-Finland (Finnish for “Our Land”), located on the homestead region of Cubana Bay. The Guide entry describes it as, “a land rich in history, folklore, and natural wonders”, in which visitors are invited to “explore vast forests, long waterways and pristine, frozen wilderness as you chance to stumble upon various interactive and immersive elements meant to educate and inspire. ” Intrigued by the description, Caitlyn and I set out to investigate – and discovered something of a treat.

Created by Shen Molinaro and Sighvatr Sturluson, this is indeed an immersive, frozen wilderness. Snow lies deep on the ground, ice sheaths the water channels in many places, and almost the entire landscape sits beneath the boughs of tall fir trees which point to midnight sky around which an auroral display ebbs and flows.

Suomi - Finland; Inara Pey, March 2016, on FlickrSuomi – Finland

The landing point on the south side of the region should offer you an introductory note card on arrival, and we do recommend you read it, as it sets out what the region is a bout and – as importantly – offers a map of trails and points of interest. Key among the latter is the legend trail,starting at the Sámi camp, which takes you through part of the woods and to a series of small displays, each offering a note card (just touch the shaman drum at each one) on a particular aspect of Finland’s culture and mythology.

Suomi - Finland; Inara Pey, March 2016, on Flickr
Suomi – Finland

The note cards, by Sighvatr Sturluson, present a rich tapestry of Finland’s mythological heritage and are well worth reading either as you find them or later when snuggled up somewhere on the region. Through them, you can learn about the Sámi (Saemieh), the people who populated the Scandinavian peninsula long before other influences took hold. You can also discover something of the mystery of  Sampo, and meet the pantheon of old Finnish gods and discover the roles of elves, gnomes, spirits and cults in old Finnish culture.

But this is not all there is to find here. As the map reveals, there is also a wildlife trail, taking visitors past reindeer (Rangifer tarandus), bear, wolves, and deep into the forests across the semi-frozen streams and rivers. For those who prefer,  the map shows the way to an old pier where sleds can be rezzed to scoot over snow and ice – although I’d personally recommend walking, lest you miss something.

And once the exploring is done and you’re in need of a rest, camp sites can be found offering warmth, rest, and snuggles. Or for the intrepid, there’s a sauna, complete with traditional birch vihta (or vasta in Eastern Finland) for an authentic Finnish sauna experience. Just keep in mind the region is Moderate, so swimming costumes are probably best, particularly if you plan to take a roll in the snow between sauna sessions!

Suomi - Finland; Inara Pey, March 2016, on FlickrSuomi – Finland – click any image for full size

Suomi-Finland is a  beautiful design; simple but elegant, and offering the opportunity to dip oneself in the culture and ancient beliefs of another country whilst exploring it. When visiting, I would recommend using the region windlight, as suggested in the introductory notes, but would also suggest that you don’t let the recommendation to use Ultra graphics put you off; Caitlyn’s laptop tends to teeter on the edge of a major collapse if pushed much beyond Mid settings, for example, and she still found the region captivating.

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