Have you ever heard about the Saami people? not that many have. Saami´s are the indigenous people of northern Europe.
There is not much written information left from the ancient beliefs of the Saami´s. Lot of the cultural heritage of the Saami´s was destroyed by the Lutheran church during the past centuries in Finland, Sweden and Norway. Myths that are left are fragments of ancient shamanic belief system.
In the past most of the Saami´s were fishermen, hunters and reindeer herders. Honoring nature was big part of Saami spirituality. Living nomadic life style while taking care of the reindeer's made reindeer one of the most sacred animals for the Saami´s. Many of the Saami deities were not humanized. They were seen as invisible spirits living in the rocks, in the ground, in the trees and in the wild reindeer's that ran free in the tundra. Deities that were given human forms were deities who had influence over human life.
In Saami communities there was rather strict gender roles. Man was the hunter and the provider. Woman´s role was to take care of the family and the kota (home tent) or the house. Woman´s special skills lied in the handcrafts. Turning fur into coats and boots and creating beautiful embroideries. Society was not completely dismissing to the female gender. Women were allowed to own their own reindeer's.
There was four very important goddesses who Saami´s worshiped. These goddesses were Máttaráhkká, Sárahkká, Juksáhkka and Uksákká. Among Saami´s birth was seen as something very sacred. Mystical and magical event. World that was only for women. All these four goddesses were connected to life, death and rebirth.
Máttaráhkká the primal mother
Máttaráhkká was the goddess of earth. She was the beginner of all life. Her job was to receive the soul and the spirit of the child from the sky god Radien and give the breath of life to the child in the womb. Women turned to Máttaráhkká during childbirth and if they suffered from menstrual pains.
Máttaráhkká had three daughters. In the shaman drum these three figures are painted to the very bottom of the drum. Saami´s believed that these three goddesses lived in the ground with their mother just below kota or the house.
Juksáhkka the bow woman
Juksáhkka was the goddess of hunt. Her name literally means "the bow woman". Juksáhkka was the protector goddess of boys and men. She protected them since the moment they were conceived till the day they died. It was believed that Juksáhkka had the ability to change the child´s gender in the womb. One way to ensure this was to attach bow and some arrows into komsio (Saami cradle). Since Saami culture was foremost a hunting culture boys and men were more respected than women in the society.
Sárahkká the life bringer
Sárahkká was protector goddess of giving birth, girls and women. Her job was to grow the flesh around the child´s bones in the womb. In the shaman drum Sárahkká is painted in the middle. She protected women from the day they were born to the day they died. Sárahkká´s sacred bird was the willow grouse. If couple wanted to have a girl child they hanged beaks, wings and feathers of the willow grouse to the komsio. When giving birth was successful women sacrificed porridge to Sárahkká.
Uksákká guardian of the door
Uksákká the third sister looked after the child when they grew up. She protected the child not hurting themselves or getting into accidents. Uksákká guarded all the doors of the kota´s and houses. She was also protector of doors in the animal world. She protected entrances of bear and wolf caves, doors of the birds´s nests and entering holes of the bee hives.
Despite the fact that Saami culture was male dominated hunting culture. The essence of all life was believed to live within the woman. The primal mother.
Check my other videos and articles about Saami myths and culture:
Dark spirits in Saami mythology
Water spirits in Saami mythology and folklore
Daughters of the sun, sons of the moon
Sun and the moon in Saami mythology and folklore
Artist and Illustrator. Mythology and Folklore enthusiastic. Keen traveler. Comes from Finland. Likes cats, tea, and such.
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