Skaði and the Saami Part 3

I am proud to say that the wife and I are officially moved into our new home! It is quite weird to call myself a homeowner. It’s so delightfully…. normal. I guess it will be an adjustment. We got the altar up, and have already noticed a few new local spirits. I look to making the introductions. I can’t wait to break in the new work space! Got another novel to finish first…

For those of you that notice such things, I have added my email on the sidebar of this blog. I am open to comments, questions, ideas and your run of the mill hate mail. Ok, so I’d rather not have the last, but I want to be accessible to my readers. I recognize that some may not want to discuss some of things I talk about in the comments, and I wanted to offer a more private avenue.

Anywho, onto part 3 of this series…

Here we transition from Saami generally to Skadi more specifically. Mundal backs up the basic idea that Davidson hints upon, by suggesting that to some extent, Skadi is modeled on a Saami woman. (Mundal, pg 249). As Davidson points out, Skadi, like the Saami, is a renowned skier, hunter, and archer. I have detailed many of the stories in past posts associated with Skadi, so I am going to omit most of that. The Saami were reindeer hunters/herders of the north, and were known widely for being skiers. As Mundal points out, that the Saami go skiing is an entirely natural and normal thing; “… a little fragment is also found in the Norwegian Gulathingslaw (ch. 320) and the contents of the oath point to Norwegian origin. Here, among other things it is said that an enemy shall have peace as long as the falcon flies, the pine grows, rivers flow to the sea, children cry for their mother and the Saamis go skiing. The Saamis being there skiing is mentioned among all the normal things.” (Mundal, pg 348)

 Returning now to my original question, can we trace the concepts upon which Skadi might have been modeled? The answer is yes, to some degree. Countless artifacts could be brought forward as evidence, from wooden skies, bows, arrows, all kinds of hunting finds, blinds, and equipment. However, such things were not the exclusive domain of the Saami, and the Norse are know to have used many of these things as well. That being said, I think the most telling evidence is to be found on rock art in northern Scandinavia. Across numerous panels, from Alta in Finnmark, as well as other sites, there is a full catalogue of hunting carvings, engravings and paintings. I have not the space to detail them all here.

A notable example is a carving of a skier, dated from the late Mesolithic, found at Bola, in Nord-Tondelag. This single piece of artwork could be as old as 6500 BCE. (Bjerk, pg 85) Eight thousand year ago, the Saami, or those like them, were still going skiing.

Perhaps Skadi was as well… 

That brings an end to the current series. There is so much that I have only begin to scratch the surface on, and there will be more in the long run.

As for near future projects, I have an article on Old Norse initiations and the bear cult I am reading through right now. Also, with my focus being mostly ancestor and spirit work, I am working on gathering folklore and other sources so I can discuss the more “everyday” spirits.

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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