in Finland, it is illegal to kill a bear when it’s hibernating. If you ask a hunter why that is, a number of them will tell you it’s wrong simply because it is the law, and they don’t make a distinction between what is right, and what is legal. Most people like that are perfectly normal, decent and respectable people, just like the rest of us.
But if you ask people who think about things, the answer is vague. Killing a hibernating bear would just feel… impolite? You can’t fucking shoot a man when he’s sleeping, that’s just fucking rude. It’s just not the right thing to do.
Long before hunting laws were established in Finland, you couldn’t kill a sleeping bear, and what commands you is something older than law: tradition. Even at a time when hunting was a matter of life and death, and a bear fighting for its life is mainly a matter of death, you just didn’t kill a hibernating bear, you have to wake it up first. Hunters risked their lives, the lives of their brothers and everyone in the hunting party, who were friends, family and men that they loved, to give the bear a fighting chance.
In the modern time, the hunting season of bears is in the summer, for the warmest summer months. There are many reasons for why they are allowed to tread safely in autumn and to sleep in peace through the cold months, almost all of which are rational and scientific, and do not touch the old traditions.
Old faith says a living thing has many souls – henki, luonto, itse. Plants only have one – the one that wills them to grow. Animals have two, both the spark of life and nature that enables them to act. A human being also has the third, one that makes them a person, personality, itse, literally “self”. But the soul that travels in your dreams is not the soul that defines a human – animals have that one as well. When your dog runs in her sleep, her soul is elsewhere, where a dog is needed.
One’s waking soul is elsewhere when they sleep and dream. A bear’s soul is somewhere else when they are hibernating – there are two words for “hibernation” in finnish, one of which is talviuni, “winter sleep”, and that is the one that bears have – and if you kill a sleeping bear, their soul is not in the body, it is still out there, and it can find you, and as a revenge for killing its body, Ghost Bear will kill your entire fucking family.