Sami Shamanism



    • Everything has spiritual value.
    • The spiritual and the physical are united.
    • The laws of Nature are emphasized.
    • Nature reflects the Creator.
    • Feelings are important.
    • Society is based on cultural pluralism and the extended family.
    • Roots are remembered.
    • Cosmology is spatial and timeless.
    • Education is experiential.
    • Teachings are from Nature and family elders.
    • Epistemology is based on cultural renewal.
    • Material wealth is shared and given away.
    • Society is egalitarian.
    • Women and men have equal freedom and power.
    • Leaders put the People above themselves.
    • The balance of Nature is maintained.

© 1989 Faith Fjeld.



The Sami People

The Sami are northern Scandinavia's indigenous people. When Sápmi, or Samiland was colonized many of the old reindeer grazing areas disappeared and with them some of the history forming the Sami cultural inheritance was also lost. The damages from taxation, racism, and ruthless exploitation need time to heal. Therefore, it is important from the Swedish perspective, to remember another history that is not focused on the Vikings or heroic kings.


A hunting and gathering people become reindeer herders

10,000 years ago the forefathers of the Sami hunted moose and game and carved pictures of these animals in the rocks of northern Norway. A century after the birth of Christ, the Roman author Tacitus described the people called "fenni" who dressed in animal skins and slept on the ground. They are also mentioned in texts from the 700s where they it is described how they hunted game over the snow with curved pieces of wood strapped to their feet.


The Sami Religion

The Sami religion contains many gods who steered the powers of nature in differing ways. The will of these gods was interpreted by Sami shamans called Noaid. However, the arrival of Christian missionaries brought with it the edict that man's consciousness could be ruled by only one god.

The Sami religion grew from the hunters' relationship to their prey and the nature that surround them both. The wind god, Bieggaålmaj, sent warming or chilling winds and therefore was given sacrifices of appeasement. Gods were called upon during periods of hunger, sickness or when hunting, and their messengers were the Noaid. In daily life, the Noaid were like others in the group, but through their ability to enter into a trance and take on the spirit of animals they were freed from time and space.




The Symbolic Importance of the Magic Drum

After drumming, an object on the drum comes to rest pointing to one of the symbols on the drum and the Noaid interpretes the message of the gods. The symbols on the magic drum were representations of images from nature. As they were passed down through the generations, over time these images were refined into symbols.




The pictures on this page came from:

They are illustrations from the book:

Lapponia by Johannes Schefferus
(1621 - 1679)

You can click on them to view a larger image, also, some of them are cropped so you will need to view them larger in order to see other images that were cropped off.



Sami praying


Sami magic drum


Sami Shaman


A Sami tent (a "lavvo")


Sami Shaman



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