Lempo – The Fire Woman

On Oct. 5, 2017, a triple trans-Neptunian object (47171) 1999 TC36 was named for deities from Finnish mythology. The primary was named Lempo and the two smaller components as Hiisi and Paha.

47171 Lempo is classified as a plutino. It is probably a dwarf planet. The primary was discovered in 1999 at Kitt Peak in Arizona by Eric Rubenstein and Louis-Gregory Strolger. The orbital period is about 245.5 years. Lempo was at its perihelion in July 2015. Perihelion is the point in the orbit of a body where it is nearest to the Sun.

The central primary of 47171 Lempo is a binary. The moon, now called Paha, is circulating the central pair. It was discovered on Dec. 8, 2001, by Chad Trujillo and Mike Brown using the Hubble Space Telescope observations, and announced on Jan. 10, 2002. In 2009, analysis of Hubble images revealed that the primary is composed of two nearly similar-sized components, now named Lempo and Hiisi. In this respect Lempo resembles the Pluto system, where four moons are orbiting the central binary of Pluto and Charon.

Lempo was originally the god of love and fertility in Finnish mythology. She was the sacred Fire Woman. 47171 Lempo is thus the first plutino named after a female deity.

The Taivaannaula website, which is dedicated to preserving and fostering the native Finnish religion and culture, tells the story about Lempo, who gave bread, iron and love to humankind. Once upon a time the fire came from beyond the visible world. A glowing fireball shot from the sky and hit the ground. It was the Fire Woman with flaming hair. People were terrified at first, but after they discovered all the advantages which she gave to them, they became the people of fire. Lempo burned the soil fertile, she gave them weapons and tools, and she lit the flame of love. Even the deceased she escorted to the Otherworld.

Then Christianity came to Finland, and Lempo became identified with the devil. The word “lempi” is one of the Finnish words which mean “love”. Lempi could sometimes turn to Lempo, which lead to destruction. Lempo’s name became a swear word. Even her gender became blurred. This mixture of the gender comes wonderfully out of the astrological aspects of the time of the naming of 1999 TC36. On Oct. 5, 2017, there was a Full Moon in Aries. At the moment of any Full Moon, the Sun and the Moon, a pair of masculine and feminine, are opposite each other. On this Full moon they were in signs which are ruled by another pair of masculine and feminine symbols, Venus and Mars; the Sun was in Libra, ruled by Venus, and the Moon was in Aries, ruled by Mars. Venus and Mars made a conjunction in Virgo on that same day. The Sun in Libra was in conjunction with Mercury, the androgynous messenger of the gods.

In mythology Hiisi and Paha were Lempo’s demon cohorts. “Paha” means “bad” in Finnish.

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