Long ago, in a village near a river, lived a young women, Jölä, who was a skilled fisherman. Jölä’s father was a fisherman himself who initially wanted a son, but due to certain circumstances, was given a single daughter instead. Jölä would observe her father during his many fishing trips and would often sneak on to his boat to continue her studies, determined that she would make him proud by carrying on his skills. Because of her “manly” attributes, she was secretly ostracized by everyone in the village - especially the other young girls. Despite her skills, she was a gorgeous maiden whose beauty was second to none. Ignorant of the hatred of the girls and the lustful gazes of the her fellow fishermen, Jölä lived a seemingly peaceful life.
One day, the son of a rich noble passed by the village on a trip to visit his father’s castle east of the village. He decided to stay in the village for a night, and his presence stirred the villagers into life, hoping to impress him so much that he would want to visit again and again to spend his wealth. He was unmarried - a fact that the young village girls knew - and thus he was surrounded by girls everywhere he went. He was, however, not interested, and was also not taking kindly to the other villager’s abnormal excitement. Night soon fell and the noble decided to go on a midnight walk knowing that the other villagers were asleep. The village was known for its gorgeous view of the sea and thus he went for a walk along the coast.
As he looked into the distance, he could make out what appeared to be someone standing on the pier. The silver moon gave away the presence of a young girl standing alone, looking out into the sea. He approached her, and when their eyes met, they instantly fell in love. The young girl was Jölä, who was standing on the pier every night for a week, awaiting her father who was on an expedition. They exchanged pleasantries and was bound by the strings of fate to be together. It seems that after a life of many curses, Jölä was finally blessed by the gods.
The sun rose and the fishing village was lively once again. The boats were once again sailing, the sky was once again filled with the songs sung by birds, and the village girls were once again angry at their life-long target. It was announce that Jölä and the noble, whose name was Vïnäl, were to be married the moment Jölä’s father returned. Vïnäl was to forever stay in the village with his new wife and family for the many years to come. However, the strings of fate were beginning to unwind.
The ceremonies took place and the village had a perfect couple residing within its borders. Jölä and Vïnäl lived in a mansion by the river, happily married. Unlike the others, Vïnäl knew and accepted Jölä’s position as a fisherman. Despite the obvious discrimination by the other villagers, Vïnäl did not care and kept a strong facade. Under this facade, however, he secretly looked down on his wife, mentally referring to her as “a witch whose was deceitful and unwomanly”. These thoughts plagued Vïnäl, but Jölä’s beauty and soft personality kept them at ease.
The other girls in the village were furious. They got together and came up with a plan. During one of Jölä’s fishing trip, the girls paid a man who disguised himself as a fisherman to get close to her. He raped Jölä on the boat and proceeded to run away. Jölä, now distraught and panicking, ran home to her husband tearfully. Vïnäl was furious, at both the man and his wife, thus he ordered that Jölä was to forever stay within the boundaries of their home like a true woman. Vïnäl’s thoughts once again ran wild. Now, the second phase of the other girls’ plan was to be executed. As of now, the event that transpired was public and everyone in the village was taking about it. The couple couldn’t even go outside without facing the gaze of bystanders. One day, Vïnäl went to the village bar and became drunk. The other village girls seduced him and a drunken Vïnäl had his way with two beautiful women whose beauty was still second to his wife’s. He brought the women home and continued his acts there, much to the horror of wife. When confronted, he slapped her and she began to run outside towards the nearby river. She cried sorrowful tears that night that it is said that the river grew twice in size. Upon seeing her presence, the other girls jumped out and proceeded to push and drown Jölä in the river. Her sad mortal life came to an unfortunate conclusion.
Now a soul, Jölä was confronted by the nearby river god who was sympathetic towards her. After pleading with the King of Hell, he was authorized to make Jölä a River Spirit, a being with god-like powers in charge of the river. As she would have to look after the village that done her wrong, Jölä was reluctant to take the job at first. However, she quickly realized the apparent opportunity she was given.
After Jölä’s death and transition towards being a river spirit, Vïnäl remarried. He wanted to have the ceremonies done by the river but the oracles warned him of such an act. They were worried that the spirit of Jölä, who died in the river, would wreak havoc there should an event take place. As such, Vïnäl decided to have the wedding ceremonies commenced in a valley a walking distance away from his former wife’s death site through which the same river ran. Jölä’s revenge was about to the unfold. During the ceremony, Jölä used her powers to increase the water levels and flooded the valley to such an extent that it became a lake. Vïnäl and his guests, which included those resented Jölä, were all drowned.
Heaven took notice of this and brought Jölä in for a trial. The souls of those she drowned were recognized of their sins and were thus punished. The ones who were innocent had their names erased from the Book of Death and memories erased of such an event, to then be sent back to live their normal lives. Despite this however, Jölä was not free to leave. She committed several crimes and did so in the form of a River Spirit, thus she was to be stripped of her power and sent to Hell for punishment. A scared Jölä ran away and after using both her powers and beauty, was able to escape Heaven’s clutches. She retreated back into the river and hid under the clay, unbeknownst to the guards who were sent to retrieve her. Heaven sealed the river bed hoping that if she returned, she could not enter or that if she was already in, she would never get back out. She hid and slept for 500 years, centuries during which her infamous name withered in value.
One day, she was awoken by someone who was knee deep in the river. The one who woke her up was an artisan who came to collect clay to make various items. Filled with evil intentions, Jölä fused herself with the clay and was soon carried off to the artisan’s home. He made her into a teapot, one of his finest works with the most intricate of designs. The teapot which was made from the blessed clay sealed in a vengeful and evil spirit. The exquisite teapot was then sold to a rich family of nobles. During a visit from an Oracle, the oracle advised the family of one specific thing. He said that the family must always wash the teapot after they finish or else they will be subjected to a curse of which he cannot say nor describe. They heeded his warning until one night during which the maid forgot to do so. The tea leaves gave Jölä natural chi and energy, which she took under the light of the full moon. However, she still could not escape. After the maid realized her mistake, she quickly washed the teapot and acted as if nothing happened. After brewing and serving the nobles tea, Jölä’s spirit emerged from the teapot surrounded by dark clouds. The vengeful Jölä began her tyranny, destroying everything in her path. She arrived at the village, now a flourishing fishing town, and began her acts of terror. The wind began picking up, blowing boats offshore and out to sea, never to return. The trees were curved to a point which ripped them in half. Then, the sea levels grew to such a height that the town was entirely submerged, with only the roofs of the tallest buildings innocently poking out.
Noticing the unprecedented rising tides, Gishi-Chadō, the deity of the seas, looked out from his ocean palace. He saw the evil spirit Jölä whose beauty had withered away with time like a shriveled lotus flower that it made him sick. He reported the site to Heaven, who immediately worked on a way to contain her. They sent the same deity to handle the situation.
Gishi-Chadō approached Jölä with a proposal, something which made Jölä listen with open ears. He proposed a competition - whoever can fish out a hundred fish before sunset wins. Should Jölä win, she can claim his position as the new deity of the seas. However, should she fail, she will sent to a realm in which she will experience countless deaths. Jölä agreed to the proposal. At this point in time, Jölä is a fast and slippery being who was well known for escaping the grasp of heaven. The sea deity knew this and concocted a plan.
Jölä went first. With her legendary fishing skills, she fished out schools upon schools of fish with ease from the river. However, during her hundredth catch, Gishi-Chadō transformed himself into a fish and swam about with swift and haste, meticulously avoiding Jölä’s attempts. The sun set and Jölä was only able to catch a total of ninety-nine fish. Jölä was mad at the deity for tricking her, but she concocted her own plan the next day.
Day 2 of competition was in full blossom. As the sun began to turn the sky into dusk, the sea deity caught his fish with ease. Jölä then proceeded to transform herself into a fish- a quite large one, in fact - and began eating all the surrounding fish knowing that it will slow the Deity in his catch. However, this is what the Sea Deity wanted. As Jölä began devouring more and more fish, she became bigger and bigger whilst moving slower and slower. Now that she was right where he wanted her, the Sea Deity lifted a net, set from the river bed, trapping the so-called “fish”. The net was blessed with heavenly seals which meant that nothing can escape. Try as she might, Jölä could not get out. She had lost.
Jölä was carefully escorted to Heaven for her final trial. She stood before the council silent, for her crimes were so severe that she knew the vast punishments which awaited her. During the trial, Jölä was groomed in such a that she was fit to be in the quarters of Heaven. Centuries of darkness, mud and withered skin were all removed, leaving behind the beauty she once was five hundred years ago. The Sea Deity saw her, and was awed at her glamour. The court decided on the harsh labour Jölä was to be put through, to only be interrupted by the Sea Deity. He confessed his love towards Jölä, something which Jölä was reluctant towards at first as, after all, she had been suffering for centuries because of love. To prove his devotion, he professed that he will share the punishment with Jölä and that he will take her as his bride after their duties were complete. She then spent several years enduring hardship with the Sea Deity in Hell, falling ever so in love as the years go by. She had finally found peace, ironically, in the depths of Hell.
Jölä then became the Sea Deity’s bride and crowned a Sea Goddess. Today, she is worshipped by both sailors and couples alike. She is a canonized as a symbol of the loyalty and trust between couples, something worshippers would pray to her for. Sailors would pray to her for more fish and catches, as the legend of her of past skills lives on.