Fragments of Lappish Mythology, Parts 2-4



Doctrine of Sacrifice



Doctrine of Divination



Selection of Lappish Tales



2. (pp. 137-198) "Doctrine of Sacrifice".

2:3-4 (p. 143) sacred door; goddesses of doors


"There were two doors in all ... lodgings ...; ... there was the smaller secret door opposite the ordinary one. The part of the dwelling closest to the secret door was called the paossjo ... . ... This paossjo was a sacred area, which no woman dared to approach, and the secret door itself was sacred. No woman dared go in and out of it. Only a man could crawl in or out through it on his way to a sacred activity, for example, going to or coming from a sacrifice or going to hunt or coming from hunting."


"A hole or opening down in the bottom of the dwelling is ... the paossjo raige, the draft hole".

"In Lindahl and O:hrling’s Lappish Dictionary

Paossjo-akka, i.e., Paossjon eukko, is the goddess of the Paossjo or the draft opening, just as

Uks-akka [Finnish Ovieukko] is the goddess of the ordinary or profane door."

2:6 (p. 145) upside-down tree

"The Va,a,rro muor was cut so that the root end of the tree could represent the head and the other part the torso. This tree was set up in connection with all sacrifices to Zarakka, Saiwo and Jabmeke so that the root end was usually above and the trunk below." (J p. 48)

{The upside-down mythic-symbolic tree with root-above, trunk-below, is mentioned in the BhG 15:1, in Timaios 90a7-b2 ("T") in the Qabbalah (WT, p. 42), and the Makititare ("LH", p. 9) of the upper Orinoco. In Poland ("UChT"), Christmas-trees are displayed upside down.}

BhG = Bhagavat Gita As`vattha (fig) tree "with its roots above and its branches below".

"T" =

WT = James R. Lewis : Witchcraft Today. ABC-CLIO, 1999. "an upside-down tree, whose roots are in the Godhead".

"LH" = "Ladder-to-Heaven" "Marahuaka. He cut it up there in Heaven. It was an upside down tree, with its roots on top."

"UChT" =

2:10 (p. 148) ornaments worn for caerimony

"When the sacrificer was asked why he was adorned with so many rings and chains, he answered that it was a sign of his readiness and his humility toward the gods." (J p. 52) {In Siberia, shamans while performing in public customarily wear much metallic ornamentation, in order to please the deities by the metallic jangling.}

2:15 (p. 152) ritual silence

According to Ho,gstro,m (11:22), "when a Lapp is on the way to or from a sacrifice, he cannot even speak."

2:16-9, 21-2 (pp. 153-7) shamanic drum






"the bowl-shaped drum must be hollowed out on one side and made convex on the outside".



"The noaide drum ... is bowl-shaped and had an egg-shaped or some times round rim. ... Lower down on the outside was carved out a shaped hand-grip".



"When this bowl-shaped wooeden device had been finished ..., a chamoised reindeer hide was stretched over the parted part up to the edges." (S p. 124)

"the Lapp heated the drumhead by the fire before use in order to make it more springy." (S p. 134)



"With coloring made by boiling alder bark, all kinds of figures were painted on the tightly stretched drumhead ... . Samuel Rhen gives the following description regarding the Lule Lapps : "They draw one or two lines on the center of the drum ... . ... Above these lines are drawn ... the moon and stars. Close below these lines is drawn first the sun ... .""



"The drumhead ... was divided into five sections by lines or strokes, each section having its own sketches. In the first was a man called Ilmaris [= Finnish /Ilmarinen/], which means storm or violent weather.

Next there was a manlike figure, Tiermes ... . He could bring mild or nice weather. {cloudy weather} ...

On another section of the drumhead was a circle with a line on it. This figure was called Peiwe ‘Sun’ {sunny weather}" (L).



"For the purpose of drumming the Lapp had a drumstick made of reindeer bone, which Schefferus and other Swedes have called a hammer. ... It was made of reindeer horn, ... from over the forehead."

2:43 (p. 172) redincarnation

"One of the dead told the expectant mother the name of the baby in a dream. Then it was said that the dead would be reborn in the child." (J p. 333)

2:49-51 (pp. 178) sacred mountain; star nigh moon




"Sacred mountains (paosseh vareh) were respected. ... They made yearly trips to these sacred places" (L p. 443).


"After [sexual] intercourse a woman carefully checked the star that was closest to the moon. According to the distance of the star from the moon, they judged according to whether or not the child would be born alive." (L. p. 494)

2:52 (p. 180) cures against ailments


its cure




bear’s penis

2:64, 69 (pp. 190, 194) soul of dead bear is invited to induce other bears to submit to being slain






"They sing of the respect they are now demonstrating to the bear, and they ask that he tell other bears about it so that they, too, will surrender willingly." (F. p. 19)



"When all the bones are in place, they address the bear, asking him to tell other bears about the great honors that have been accorded him so that they will not resist capture." (F p. 29)


3. (pp. 199-231) "Doctrine of Divination".

3:2, 4, 8 (pp. 200, 2002, 207) supernatural powers






"a middle-aged Lapp ... said : ‘... I will continue to see things occurring elsewhere . ... I see whether I want to or not.’ " (T p. 21)



"Then the true noaide ... thrust his hand straight into the fire ... and took up a handful of burning coals. He thrust them into his mouth so that fire and flames shot forth from his mouth."



medical curing skill of a Lappish woman : "she announces having gotten this skill from a woman in the realm of the dead, with whom she says she is in special contact".

3:9-10 (pp. 208-9) divine inspiration with the spirit of prophecy






"There was another Lappish woman ... who sank into a kind of magnetic dream ... . In this state she lay motionless {asleep} ..., but with a flood of words pouring from her mouth. She spoke as though from the spirit of all sorts of incredible and incomprehensible things, as though she were in another world."



"prophetic Lapps ... would sink into a trance or prophetic sleep, and in that state they imagined seeing things or having revelations, which upon awakening they told to those seeking knowledge. Old Petrus Claudi already writes about the prophetic Lapp, ... saying that the Lapp was shouting and bellowing ..., leaping and whirling around a number of times." (S pp. 134-5)

3:11 (pp. 209-10) spirit-helpers & shamanic performance

p. 209

"the noaide ... spoke thus to his noaide bird (naoide-laodde) : ... (‘panic bids you to come’). Then he bade the noaide bird to fetch the naoide gadse (noaide spirit ...). ... An invisible congregation, which only the noaide could see, consisted of the following ... :

first, aorja,

the leader, naoide gadse, then

two invisible women, who accompanied aorja, and who were called rudok." (Leem)

"The noaide took off his hat,

p. 210

opened his belt and shoelaces {"whose shoe’s latchet I am ... to loose" (Euangelion according to Ioannes 1:27)}, and put his hands to his face. With his hands to his sides, writhing back and forth, he began a song with these words : ... (‘hitch up the male reindeer, launch the boat into the water’).

Then the noaide ... made a journey to the underworld, seeing the passavareh-mountains with their underworld inhabitants. There he heard the luodit-song or the song of the passavare, the invisible inhabitants. During the naoide’s trance, the sjarak-women talked softly to ... which passavare-mountain the prophesier’s spirit was hastening ... . The women went on discussing what the naoide was seeing on the passevare, upon which he, mumbling softly, like someone talking in his sleep, repeated the worlds he had heard in the invisible world. ... Immediately upon hearing this mumbling, both women beginnto sing in a high register until the naoide comes to".

3:12, 16 (pp. 211, 214-5) shamanic journeying






"Aorja, ‘thrall’ was the naoide’s underworld slave or servant."


"By banging with his hammer ..., he sets the copper frog ... to hopping around ... . ... Strengthened by his charms, his spirit ... seeks from persons far away, a certain token, a ring or knife, as evidence that he has accomplished his assignment or mission." (Olaus Magnus, quoted in S p. 135)



"The Lapps themselves say that the soul of the naoide is ... in "jaabma aimo" that is, in the world of the dead".



" "Surely people have a soul," they say, "since it moves and travels – in dreams." In a way this is Descartes’ famous formulation, "Cogito ergo sum"".

3:18 (p. 217) continued singing to the entranced

"And when the naoide loses consciousness, the bystanders, both men and women, must continue singing in order to remind him of his task and of what he must learn from the spirit world." (S p. 138)

3:21-2 (pp. 220-1) vocation of shamanhood; witnessing praesence of deities






"But if he is taken on a third trip, it is the most difficult and life-threatening journey; then he may witness all kinds of fiendish visions and become fully knowledgeable in all conjuring".(T p. 20)

"those who by nature and through illness have acquired such an art, see things which are not present – whether they want to or not."



"To young men who were candidates for sorcery the gods appeared at regular intervals, ... in the form of saivo people (saivo-gadse) ... in dreams etc. These saivo people would themselves teach these candidates and sometimes took them to the saivo, so that the saivo who had passed on could teach them there." (J p. 54)

3:23-4 (pp. 221-2) shaman’s spirit-bird; ordering the dead






"Since the Lapps thought that deceased friends caused them all sorts of illnesses and even death ...; naoides has to make journeys to Jaabma aimo (the realm of the dead) to appease the angry ghosts and heal the sick. ... Making the journey to Jaabma aimo, was a question of who had the strongest dielli or dirri." (J p. 59)



"Dirri is indeed a certain bird, (Sterna Hirundo L)." [p. 231, n. 25 : "Lappish tiira"] Perhaps it was considered a naoide bird, with the help of which the naoide made his journey to Hades."



"In the decade of 1640-1650, there was in Lule a very famous noaide ... called Kutavuorok, ‘Six-Phase,’ a name ... associated with his ability to assume six different shapes. This Lappish noaidewas said to order the dead as he saw fit."

3:27 (p. 225) wind at birth; to stop a sailing ship

"Petrus Claudi says : "He (the noaide) can raise and awaken any wind he wants; he can especially raise the wind which blew when he was born.""

{" one can also ask a silattiavak – i.e. someone born on a day of good weather –... to bring the good weather back." ("SOP", p. 161)}

"a’ Goe:s has related that the noaide may stop a swiftly sailing ship. The only means against such ... is to brush the rowers’ benches and the passageways between them with a maiden’s discharge." (S p. 145)

"SOP" = Bernard Saladin d’Anglure : "Sila, the Ordering Principle of the Inuit Cosmology". In :- Miha`ly Hoppa`l & Keith Howard : Shamans and Cultures. Akade`miai Kiado`, Budapest, 1993. pp. 160-8.

3:29-31 (p. 227-8) magical control over animals






"who had been troubled by the dead in a dream on his way ... . When he had fallen to sleep in Kuttainen, he began to complain in his sleep. When the man next to him nudged him and woke him up, he said, "If you had not awakened me, the dead would surely have killed me."


When they reached Karesuando on their return journey, the horses stopped and refused even to stir.

{"And the ass saw the angel of YHWH, and she lay down" [B-Midbar 22:27].}


The man whom the dead had troubled at Kuttainen said the place was full of the kind of church people who stopped the horses from going forward. ...

[Bil<am in mentioned in FLM 3:13 (p. 212), with n. 14 on p. 231 (where "4. Moses" is of course Numbers).]


Then the first mentioned said : "Look through ... the horse’s collar bow and you will be able to see them.["]

{"And YHWH opened the mouth of the ass, and she said ..." [B-Midbar 22:28].


The man did so and really seemed to see all sorts of black people in front of the horses. ... The common folk belief was that the dead ... stationed themselves in front of the horses."

"And YHWH opened the eyen of Bil<am, and he saw the angel of YHWH standing in the way" [B-Midbar 22:31].}



"an old woman who is said to be a noaide ... began to yoik ...



these words : "The dogs of Karesuando will not bark ... next year." It so happened that ... it was prophecy."



"the notorious sorcery of the Lapps ... can benumb ... wasps, stop the flow of blood, shrink a swelling and make it disappear ... . ...

Sjo,gren related in his book, Anteckningar om Kemi Lappmark, how a ... farmer had learned a trick to catch foxes with spells."


4. (pp. 233-270) "Selection of Lappish Tales".

4:15 (p. 250) demigoddess’s finger are hacked off

"The daughter slowed down and waited until the hag caught hold of the back of sledge and then chopped off her fingers".

{In Inuit myth, when she grasped the kayak the fingers goddess Sedna were chopped off by her father while they were fleeing.}

4:20-2 (pp. 254-5) names of tribes






[C^ud tribe] "Tsud and its meaning. Lindahl and O:hrling have translated it an ‘enemy’ ... ."



"Sjo,gren ... attempts to prove that the Lapps’ and Russians’ Tsuuds were the same people as the Greeks’ and Romans’ Scythians." {The names are sufficiently alike to render this probable.}


"with the name kainulats the Lapps refer to the Finnish kainulainen". [p. 68, n. 0:* : "Ordinary modern Finns continue to be called kvaens, which is nothing other than kainulainen pronounced in Geatish fashion."]



"Lapps call the Karelians by the name karjel ... . The name originally means ‘cattle people,’ ... whereas kainulainen or the Lappish kainulats means, according to Lappish etymology, ‘one who handles rope’ ... ."


(sources on pp. 329-30)

S = Schefferus : Lapponica. Francofurti 1673.

J = Jessen : Afhandling on ... Lappers Hedenske Religion. Kio/benhavn 1767.

L = Leem : Beskrivelske over Finnmarkens Lapper. Kio/benhavn 1767.

F = Fjellstro,m : Kort Beraottelse om Lapparnes Bjo,rne-faonge. Stockholm 1755.

T = Tornaeus : Beskrifning o,fver ... Lappmarker. Stockholm 1772.

Ho,gstro,m : Beskrifning... lydande Lappmarker. Stockholm 1747.

Sjo,gren : Anteckningar om ... Kemi Lappmark. Helsingfors 1828.

Lars Levi Laestadius (transl. from the Swedish by Bo:rje Va:ha:ma:ki) : Fragments of Lappish Mythology. Aspasia Bks, Beaverton (ON), 2002. [published in Swedish in 1997, from manuscript written 1838-45]