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'Illu' by Susan Kooi at Sorbus, Helsinki

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Eila Ilmatar Juutilainen:

“I was named after the pilot Eino Ilmari Juutilainen and goddess of air Ilmatar. Friends call me ‘Illu’.

I grew up in Suomos in the 1930’s. Soon my magical abilities became apparent, and I became known as a witch. As a teenager I joined the Suomus Air Force. Next to my flight trailing I got interested in tarot card reading and started practicing on my fellow traineés in our freetime.

During the World War 2 era, when instead of fighting each other, humans here had to come together to fight the alien force known as Neuroi, I got scouted to become part of the Strike Witches team. We were all so young! A bunch of teenage girls, but we were the only ones who possess the magical abilities capable of fighting against the Neuroi. We were using Striker Units, to fly through the sky and increase our strength and magical ability in combat.

I was 15, 16 back then. From the beginning I got paired up with Sanya Litvyak. She came from Orussia and was named after flying ace Lydia V. Litvyak. Later I heard it was obvious to everyone I was in love with Sanya, but I was not quite aware yet myself. Only after the war was over and the Neuroi defeated, and we all moved back to our home countries, I realised how heartbroken I was not to be around her all the time anymore. She soon got married and we lost contact over time. Sometimes I still think about her, her messy hair and silent way of being, so cute!

It was generally a strange time when the war was over. No longer a Strike Witch, lacking the ‘normal’ teenage experience, what do you do afterwards? Well, I went wild – traveled the world and slept around a lot. It took me a while to find back my way of being a witch. Luckily I had trained myself in tarot card reading, which became a sort of entrance into different interests later on.

After I while I did settle back in Suomos, kind of your Finland. There I went to work in the air force again, but only part time. I started to get interested in the goddess I share my name with. Of course I knew a bit about The Kalevala, the mythology she is part of. I love the story of the cosmic egg, the world being created from the fragments of an egg laid by a diving duck on Ilmatar’s knee. What if this duck lay two eggs, one on each of her knees, and they both hatched at the same time? I found out there are many mythologies based on such an egg. Also Hildegard von Bingen made a Cosmic Egg with her scheme of the Universe, though I think it looks more like female genitalia myself. When I was in my 30’s I made t-shirts with a drawing of her egg and it became my costume for a while, I had 22 of them, and wore one everyday for almost 6 years.

Because of my time with the Strike Witches I know a lot of women around the world. I still often visit Fuso, where most of them are living nowadays. In Fuso I came across the ancient figurines called dogū.  Things went a little different in our world at some point, but the prehistory on our two Earths is the same, so dogū exist in your world too, in what you call Japan. They are so impressive! People say these figurines are based upon Aliens who visited Earth in prehistoric times. They are all women, and look kind of spacy, impressive postures and faces, but often friendly too. So different from the Neuroi who just came to attack us. I really wonder who these Ancient Aliens where. I like to surround myself with these sculptures.“

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10.8.18 — 2.9.18

Sorbus

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