A different and overlooked Scandinavian Paganism: The Saami

The Sápmi have lived and populated parts of Central and northern Scandinavia, probably before the arrival of Germanic tribes. From Norway all the way to Sweden, especially Norrland & Västerbotten to Finland and even Russia. The oldest written text on the Saami is from Roman historian Tacitus’ from 98 A.D, referring to them as the skridfinns. Tales describe a conflict of the Saami with the Viking & Germanic culture, but later on did trading and other cultural interaction with them such as exchanging skills and knowledge, in particular the crafting of knifes. The Saami have had distinct and unique cultures and different languages, counting up to 10 different languages, all of them of Finno-Ugric origin.

The Saami are a hunting culture and thus deeply shamanic-animistic in their worldview. And indeed, the Saami had a very hard time. By 1635 they were forced to work at a mine in northern Sweden. Refusal to work was punished. When Lapland was established, they have lost a lot of hunting and herding land. By 1685 their shamanic drums, items and ritual tools were taken away from them in order to prevent them from practicing their “witchcraft religion”. During the 18th Century, the Saami hunting grounds, properties and their languages were pretty much taken away from them. Until this very day, remaining Saami people have forgotten their ancestral languages or can barely speak or understand that. The nomadic Saami are a very old, ancient hunter-and gatherer culture reaching far back as the Stone Age. Just like the Indo-Europeans did.

The Saami had a thunder God, called Tiermes. Veraralden was a Sky God. Laib Olmai was their forest God. Akka the Goddess of the Underworld. Saami-shamanism is deeply animistic, they also practiced a wide-spread bear worship. Doesn’t that sound all too familiar? Today they are trying to protect their reindeer-herding lifestyle with help and assistance from the Government. They have a ritualistic way of singing called Joik. Knowing our own roots and what the Indo-Europeans practiced, it would be false to neglect the Saami way of life and beliefs. They have sung the tales of ancient Scandinavian nature for a long, long time.


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