Aiatar is most frequently described as a malevolent disease spirit living in the forests of Estonia and Finland and on the tundra. Proximity is sufficient to cause illness: no direct contact is necessary. She is an ancient Finno-Ugric spirit banished by Christianity; hence, she lingers in desolate areas where people are unlikely to bother her. Trans mis sion of disease is her way of saying “keep away!”—similar to a skunk’s emissions. Aiatar is sometimes called the “devil in the forest” or “the devil’s mother.”
Post-Christianity, Ukko, the Old Man, leader of the Finnish Pagan pantheon, was identified with the devil, his name sometimes used as a synonym for Satan. It is possible that Aiatar is his mother. Among his symbols and sacred animals is a snake.
Also known as:
Ajatar; Ajattara (Finland); Ai; Aijo; Aijater (Estonia)
Aiatar may appear as a dragon, as a snake, or as a woman suckling snakes.
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