Offering and offering sites

The pre-Christian Sami faith was characterized by a great reverence for nature. Nature was thought to be spirited by different forces and gods which it was important to keep good relations to. Even stones, mountains and lakes were filled with life. At some places the forces of nature was concentrated, and these places gained a special importance. Through offerings and other rules of respectful behaviour the spiritual connection between people and the forces of nature were strengthened. By offering the gift of nature was symbolically given back, and the balance was sustained.

The offering gifts could be hunting or trapping products, such as meat and blood or fat from the animal, or it could be fat or fish oil from fish, which was smeared on the offering stone to gain good luck when fishing and as thanks for the catch. Such offering stones, or "fish gods", is common to find along fjords, lakes and rivers. They are called "guolle-ipmil" in Sami.

On other occasions reindeer antlers was offered. This was the appropriate offer for the reindeer god and goddess Čoarve Radien and Čoarve Eadni and to the god of thunder Horagallis. The reindeer antlers were placed into the ground at the offering site or round the offering stone, with the jagged ends pointing up towards the sky. Even today one might find remains of reindeer antlers at old offering sites.

Sami offering stones and sites are often distinct nature formations, like jagged cliffs and big stone slabs. But they could also be stone or wooden sieidis made by people. Another type of offering site is the constructed ring shaped offering site.

Offering sites, sieidis and holy places could also be destroyed. An old legend from Varanger tells about how beautiful and shiny a sieidi stone was when it was smeared with reindeer fat, and about the people´s great sorrow when such a stone was destroyed with fire. To destroy holy stones and trees was according to legend a great misdeed, and was severely punished.

During the mission in the 1600s and 1700s many Sami offering sites were destroyed this way by priests and missionaries.

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