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Old-time religion of Saami

Present day Lapland during Pre-Christian times was inhabited by Finns, Lappofinns, Skridfinns or Biarmians that were later named as Saami, each of them has its own confession. Christianity appeared among Saami people quite late. What was their religion? Which religion did their ancestry exercise? There is no doubt that they were Pagans like all the other people on the north at that time but as pagan religion is variable, the question arises what the religion of Saami was. Most likely it didn’t differ much from religion of Finnish they descended from.

Old-time religion of Saami

But the data about this religion is so scarce to give answer to this question as nowadays no artefact or monument stood the test of time. We can only speculate based on information left from Biarmians and Skridfinns as well as remains of this religion still alive among Finnish and Saami.

Biarmians honored the god «Jumala». Finnish still use this word meaning God since the pagan times. Romans used «Deus», Swedish and Goths - «Gott» or «Godh», Finns - «Jumala». No doubt, Biarmians took this name from Finns and then it was used by Saami coming from Finland and in principle, formed the ethos.

Besides Jumala, Saami worshiped other God that corresponded to Swedish Thor. Based on legend Thor got its name from the ancient tsar Torr or Turr and became honorable by Finns and then was adopted by Saami together with customs, traditions and language. The third one – the Sun was added to previous two. It should be noted that worshipping the Sun is the most popular cult among pagan tribes. Definitely there were many minor gods. They are still worshipped nowadays. These gods are the ones that help in hunting, work or protect the herds from wild animals.

«Jumala» was considered the male God who sits enthroned with a crown full of precious stones of about twelve pieces. Besides, he has a golden chain. Originally they called the God Jumala but then when Thor appeared they called him Jumala as well.

For the moment the Saami characterize Thor with the same qualities as Jumala. They are: power over all gods, nasty and negative ones, in particular; over life and death of the people, over weather conditions, etc. Coming back to Jumala description we can guess that he was made of wood as after Carl’ sword blow he cut off Jumala’s head.

The Biarmians worshipped Jumala in the temple in a lonely remote place, as a rule, in the deep forest which location was not familiar to everyone. Chronographer illustrated the words of the girl from village: «In the forest there is a beautiful temple that belonged to Garger king and there is a God inside named Jumala worshipped by everybody».

The temple was unusual as it had no walls and roof and was fenced like ancient people enclosed by lattice fence the God statue. It was like the temples of the Rome that had no roofing. Fest said: « The temple is the place free of walls from all sides to have a view in any direction. In case of roof it will prevent to have a look at any direction».

Temple of Jumala had such a fence in the deep forest and Islandic historian said: «After forest we approached the meadow where there was a high fence with locked gate». There is a fence, gate, locked one to prevent those who are not admitted to God, in the forest there is a hoff (yard) what Romans called the Templum, in other words, wall-free temple.

The ancestors tried to locate their idols in the deep forest or small wood in order to locate sacred place without fences and wall-free.

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