3 Jun 2015

The 'Satanic' Sami People of Nothern Europe

Comprising, at present, of a total population of approximately a quarter of a million people, and spread across the northern regions of Norway, Sweden and Finland (with smaller populations in Russia and Ukraine), the Sami people - or Lapplanders as they are more commonly known - remain one of the most unique indigenous cultures in Europe. They were (and still are to a certain extent) looked upon with deep suspicion and fear by outsiders.

With a history going back at least five thousand years, the Sami are one of world's longest surviving indigenous peoples. Until the mid twentieth century, they lived a lifestyle of predominately reindeer herding that had hardly changed since the first recorded mention of the Sami by the Roman historian Tacticus in AD 98. Their ancient lifestyles and customs increasingly isolated them from other Nordic people's as Christianity gained a stronger and more socially controlling foothold within Scandinavia as a whole.

Sami people offering to Diermes or Thor by Picart 1724

This deep suspicion of the Sami as being essentially 'unchristian' was brought to light through a rather scornful and barely repressed bigoted profile of Sami customs by the folklorist H. Celander. Proving that academic distaste of native cultures was not just limited to the Americans, Africa and Australasia, in his study on the hearth fire and ash rituals of Northern Europe, Celander reports on the  'Satanic customs of the Sami': 

. . . every Sami on Christmas Eve when he is sated with beer or spirits consecrates his cabin or Kuttu in the following manner . . . When Christmas Eve comes, he drinks a toast of beer or spirits with his wife and children one by one and pours the half of it in the Paasio [ by the main entrance to the dwelling] and with the remaining half he drinks the health of Jemmel or God, likewise he and his family take up position by the other door Ux and drink the health of Mubenaimo [Satan], likewise also by the hearth on which the half portion is similarly poured and the health of Sarachae also drunk (Celander 1931, 72). 

Sami Pictogram of Sarachae

Sarachae appears to be comparable with the Norns of the Norse tradition and is the Sami deity relating to childbirth and child rearing as the cleaver of the umbilical chord in the service of the goddess Madderakka.  Aside from Celander's dislike of the Sami tradition, a very interesting parallel is revealed between the veneration of the Sami goddess Sarachae (or Sarakka), and with that of a similar fireplace rituals practiced in Ireland and Scotland as an offering to the Goddess Brid (Bridget). 

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