Religious Corroboration – Huhtikuism

280px-tas_native-henThe majority of beliefs I write about are relatively mainstream, but I recently stumbled upon the almost unknown Huhtiku belief system. This is a minor Scandanavian religion which went out of fashion over seven hundred years, so our limited knowledge of it relies on a few scraps of text and interpretation of artwork.

What is most notable about Huhtikuism is the claim that it was discovered by two separate groups of people, apparently before any contact had been made between them. As far as I know this is a unique claim – all other religions began in a particular part of the world from where they spread as believers traded or migrated.

Spirits within spirits

Huhtiku believers thought of every object, large or small, as being a spirit, or Tankero, with intentions and personality of its own. This belief stretches from seeds to areas of land or even the entire planet. The result is “overlapping” spirits, some within others, inhabiting the same physical space. So many rock spirits may be contained entirely in a mountain spirit which is within the spirit of the land. Some of the religious artwork looks like a complicated Venn Diagramme. The desires and movements of these spirits are said to account for all the intricate workings of nature.

The Huhtiku creation story is one of bizarre liberation. No one knows where these Tankero-spirits came from. However, at some time in the distant past before the physical world existed, they were uniform, no two different from each other.  The Tankero were unable to change form as they were confined in the bellies of Kaenna, which seem to be flightless birds, possibly chickens. They were only freed from this captivity when a savage fight broke out amongst their captors in which the all the Kaenna perished, freeing the Tankero.  Once released, they took on diverse physical forms and personalities as a way of expressing their new-found freedom.


As the Tankero are everywhere, Huhtiku teaches that it is very easy to offend one or more spirits with any simple action. Planting a seed requires thought of what the seed’s intention is; a rock should not be moved to a place that is unnatural for it. In spite of human efforts, Tankero are often offended and predictably this requires a ritual appeasement, usually by eating birds’ feet. Surely, a pretty unpleasant experience. Flightless birds are also treated with suspicion. To be injured whilst attempting to catch one is considered very unlucky.

Independently invented?

So was Hihtikuism actually discovered or invented independently in more than one place? Western anthropologists have long been aware that Huhtiku beliefs were widespread in Finland during the early middle ages, but it wasn’t until recently that a strikingly-similar belief system was discovered amongst indigenous Tazmanians. These beliefs date from a similar period in history and while Tazmania has no written records of it, numerous rock paintings have been found apparently depicting the Kaenna and Tankero creation story and the ritualistic consumption of birds’ feet. No oral tradition in Tasmania today is specific enough to be linked to Hihtikuism, but there are numerous superstitions around the hunting of the Tasmanian Native hen.

It seems highly unlikely that there could have been communication between medieval Tasmanians and Scandanavians, so what is the explanation for the similarity in their beliefs? For most believers this dual discovery would be a “holy grail” of confirmation that their beliefs came from an external, non-human source. Another possibility is coincidence. It is not unthinkable that two independent cultures could have invented similar creation stories and related practices. Whether or not a coincidence is plausible depends on exactly how detailed and similar the beliefs are. Unfortunately as the evidence is sparse we may never know the real story.

32 thoughts on “Religious Corroboration – Huhtikuism

  1. Very good. I thought for a moment that my Little-Known Faiths series had missed a bit.

    “they were confined in the bellies of Kaenna, which seem to be flightless birds, possibly chickens”


  2. Interesting. That system within system is part of Traditional Chinese Medicine. So that, for example, the liver has its own personality (perhaps not spirit) withing the human body.

    What? you don’t eat chicken feet? They’re delicious. Order some the next time you go for Dim Sum. Yam!

    My Chinese friends and I took my Caucasian husband for Dim Sum and put a basket of chicken feet in front of him. He just about puked.

    It will never be the same for me again, though. From now on, it will be a religious ceremony.

  3. Yeah I had a lucky escape and almost ate Chicken feet in Japan. Saw the symbol for Chicken on the menu and thought, “That should be OK.” Lucky my sister in law pointed out that the next symbol was “feet” or in another case, “cartilage”. Phew!

    I should probably own up now that the above post is an April Fool’s Day joke, entirely fabricated by me. Well done yunshui for rumbling it so fast. That guy has a nose for bullshit… erm, I mean…

  4. Ah, BTW, funny boy. Excellent fiction writing. You’re good man. You should try to write a horoscope to compete with Yunshui.

  5. Sorry Lorena, but it does say on my About page that Eshu is a trickster god… ;-)

    Perhaps it was the thought of those yummy chicken feet that made you less critical of Huhkituism than you would have been? I think there’s only one horse the the horoscope race, we all know where the most accurate horoscopes are!

  6. Nice. I almost put my back out doing last week’s horoscopes (all that staring at the sky tales its toll), and Gawd’s Postie gets the credit?

    Makes me wonder why I bother unveiling the mysteries of the universe to you lot.

  7. I’d just like to make it clear that Yunshui fabricates all those horoscopes entirely on his own. My posts are completely factual.

  8. Lorena, aww you’re not still upset about the April Fool’s Day trick are you?

    Postie, ah but does he fabricate them accurately? ;-)

  9. Excellent. Of course, if it were the ‘holy grail’ linking a religion from Tasmania to Finnland, it would mean that Christianity is not the true religion. Now that would have been worth it.

  10. Eshu,
    I’ve been consistently, horribly surprised at Yunshui’s accuracy. Just two days ago I was accosted, insulted and rather badly beaten by a group of surly penguins for practically no reason.
    Guess who saw it coming?

  11. (((Billy))) – Yep, I could bear to eat a few chicken feet for the world’s Christians to eat humble pie… and chicken feet!

  12. Oh… I hadn’t thought of that. That bastard!

    On the other hand, I can see why he wouldn’t want to get between me and a nasty gang of flightless water fowl giving me the stink-eye and the back of their flippers.

    On the third hand, if he had saved me from a beating, then the horoscope wouldn’t have been accurate. It’s a conumdrum.

  13. Help …. I can’t stop laughing. My darn tummy hurts.

    I’ve been consistently, horribly surprised at Yunshui’s accuracy. Just two days ago I was accosted, insulted and rather badly beaten by a group of surly penguins for practically no reason.
    Guess who saw it coming?

    Priceless…you guys provide countless hours of free entertainment.

  14. @Postie

    Look, I warned you about the penguins. You had ample opportunity to buy yourself some sort of anti-Spheniscidaen outfit, maybe dress up as a leopard seal or an angry cod. Possibly you smell faintly of fish, and that’s what attracted them – I don’t know, we’ve never met, maybe you have that “fish-odour syndrome” or something, but you could have washed. I’m just saying. Anyway, you can’t expect me to come over to the States and hold your hand through all your flightless-bird related traumas. I have enough problems keeping the emus off my cousin.

  15. Yunshui,

    I bow before thee, master. You called me a fool, and I was proven a fool by my ex-friend Eshu the very same day.

    Your talent is immeasurable. Now, please, stop me from going to the UK to slap your friend. Unless, of course, you can use your talents to help me give him a long distance slapping (on the face NOWHERE ELSE).

    The third option, of course, is to slap him yourself for me. And that doesn’t even require your supernatural powers. So, can I count on that?

  16. Mister Yunshui,

    My hit-and-miss personal hygiene is neither here nor there. I do not expect you to personally interpose yourself between me and irate fowl in dinner jackets. However, a specific time and place would have been helpful. Something along the lines of, “Beware of cutting in line at the Magnolia Bakery this weekend, as burly penguins with a penchant for brass knuckles may be offended.”
    And, as a side note, I find your use of scientific nomenclature slightly offensive. You know that I, as not only Gawd’s Postman, but an American to boot, have never had much truck with scientifical talk.

    Yrs. &tc.,

  17. Lorena:

    I will be dining with Eshu in a couple of weeks, so I’ll be sure to belt him round the chops for you. This may of course reduce my chances of getting a reciprocal dinner invite, but far be it from me to further my own agenda when I could be enacting violence on behalf of my internet pals.


    Cutting in line is such an anathema to my English sensibilities that I would never warn against it – it’s just too alien a concept for my mind to entertain. Did you know you can start a queue in Britain just by stopping in the middle of the street and getting someone to stand behind you?

  18. Yunshui,

    I laughed about the queue until my English in-laws corraborated your story. Still, funny you should mention it, as that seems to be what we’ve done with Eshu’s amusing and witty post.

  19. Thank you, master Yunshui. In two weeks, then, I’ll be able to forgive said wrong-doer and take him back as an e-friend again.

  20. Postie, given the light-hearted nature of the post (which appears to have been lost on some people), you’re welcome to queue-barge the comment thread.

    Lorena, I had hoped you’d left the Christian trappings behind, but it appears you think there’s still a need for a violent retribution before forgiveness can be granted for a sin which I had no idea was a sin until you came along and arbitrarily decided it was. Ah well. ;-)

  21. Are you seriously vexed? Come on, Eshu, how can I ever be mad at you or any of the guys? I wast just trying to get rid of my life’s stresses by being silly. Sorry if I went too far.

  22. I’m not vexed Lorena, smilies all round. :-) I was momentarily concerned that you were genuinely upset, though.

    I guess this means the slapping is cancelled and I won’t have to be watching my third point when I visit yunshui?

  23. Yes, Eshu, the slapping is cancelled. But watch your third point just to be sure.

    Is that British for what I think it is? I never heard that in my life. You and Yunshui sure force me to depend on the dictionary constantly (though it didn’t help this time). Ha! Imagine if I were to talk to you guys in person. I wouldn’t understand a word.

  24. I believe Eshu is referring to a bit of aikido terminology – the “third point” is basically the opposite of one’s centre of balance. Aikidoka attack the third point because it’s easy to make people fall over when they move their weight there.

    Or he could be afraid that I’ll kick him “inna nerts”. Still, now that you’ve called off your personal fatwa I guess I’ll have to restrain my violent tendancies.

    BTW, Eshu, I happen to have learned a few words of Finnish recently – suddenly this post is even cleverer than I originally thought!

  25. Lorena gets up really early hoping to find out what the heck a man’s “third point” is. Then she reads Yunshui’s answer and has no idea what to make of it.

    She slightly leans on the Mac’s keyboard and grimaces as she reads said answer a couple of times. She then becomes convinced that so-called friends want to pull her leg again.

    Lorena still thinks that Eshu’s third point is something behind his unmentionables, but she is slightly tempted to buy into Yunshui’s explanation, given that house’s owner hasn’t showed up to explain himself.

    As for Yunshu’s newly acquired Finish skills, Lorena is happy that she doesn’t have to actually listen to him talk, given that, likely, she can’t understand his English, let alone his Finglish.

    So, her wires get crossed and she switches to Spanish. Par de locos!

  26. Word of the Day: Fatwa.

    1625, from Arabic fetwa “a decision given by a mufti,” related to fata “to instruct by a legal decision.” Popularized 1989 when Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran issued a ruling sentencing author Salman Rushdie to death for publishing “The Satanic Verses” (1988). It was lifted 1998.

    I think Yunshui just referred to me as an Islamic Satanist. ;-)

  27. Lorena,
    Yunshui is right, that’s what I meant by “third point”. Think of yourself as a tripod with only two legs. Aikido would be trying to push a person towards that third leg which isn’t there. It’s a fancy way of tripping someone up. Actually Lorena, as you’ve read more Jane Austin than me you might know more funny old English words than I do.

    Thanks, yes I was wondering if anyone would notice the effort I went to making vague references to chickens and April in Finnish. Ah the Internet is the bluffer’s friend…

    Right, now please can we take this thread offline? It’s been fun, but it’s hogging all my “recent comments”. If you want to chat by all means email me.