Skaði and the Saami, Part 1

It has been a rough couple of weeks, so I am honestly surprised I got any blog work done at all. For those that want to know, my mom was diagnosed with stage 4 Metastatic cancer about two months or so ago. As of last week, on the 28th, she lost that fight, and she goes now to join the ancestors. It has been hard on the family, and on me. Yet, there comes a time when you have to get back on the horse and move forward with your life. That is not to say I am not grieving, because I am, but because I am just not very good at being idle. I would rather be busy, at least as a distraction. Plus I know mom wouldn’t want me to give up on my work.

As such, this new series of posts was inspired by the below selection that I originally came across on Wikipedia. I have not yet been able to acquire the book that was cited, but I am still going to use it as an introduction to this work.

Scholar Hilda Ellis Davidson proposes that Skaði’s cult may have thrived in Hålogaland, a province in northern Norway, because “she shows characteristics of the Sami people, who were renowned for skiing, shooting with the bow and hunting; her separation from Njord might point to a split between her cult and that of the Vanir in this region, where Scandinavians and the Sami were in close contact.” (Davidson, pgs 61—62). The proposed connection to the Sami is an interesting one, and one that will be explored over the course of this series.

As I have mentioned before, the Jotuns, like Skadi, are amongst the oldest known beings in the northern lore. They are prehistoric, predating even the agricultural Vanir and the warrior Aesir. I have also mentioned before, that it is nearly impossible to say how old Skadi might be. While she appears fit, younger, and in good shape, she still resonates with a depth of wisdom that only comes from experience. At lot of experience. It may be rude to ask a woman how old she is, but I cannot avoid my nature. She laughed at the question.

Still, I don’t give up that easy, so I set out to see what I could find out for myself. It is clear that Skadi belongs to a prehistoric past, before the writing of the sagas, and even the Vikings themselves. Going back as far as we have records, it is clear that there existed multiple peoples in Scandinavia, and we see these people reflected in the myths.

As Mundal points out; ” In Old Norse sources, both Norwegian and Icelandic, we meet a consciousness of the fact that on the Scandinavian peninsula there lived two peoples, the Nordic people and the Saamis, who in the Old Norse sources are called finnar. Both were peoples with their own culture that in many respects differed considerably from the culture of the other people. They spoke different languages. The Nordic people were farmers while most Saamis lived a nomadic life. They had also before Christianization – different religions, but the religion of the Saamis may have been influenced by the religion of the Nordic people – and vice versa.” (Mundal, pg 346)

Ugh, at that limit already. More to come!

 

References/Sources;

Davidson, Hilda Ellis. The Lost Beliefs of Northern Europe.

Mundal, Else. Coexistence of Saami and Norse Culture – reflected in and interpreted by Old Norse myths

Bjerk, Hein. Norwegian Mesolithic Trends

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About Nicholas Haney

I am a writer, author, hunter, craftsman, and student of anthropology/archaeology. View all posts by Nicholas Haney

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