Trumma
The drum was an important aid for the shaman. Photo: Hans-Olof Utsi

Contacting the spirits

In the religious ceremonies, people met the gods and showed their respect through offerings. They made offerings for many reasons: for the wellbeing of the reindeer, for success when hunting and fishing, in order to overcome illness, or for successful pregnancy and childbirth.

The shaman acted as an intermediary in contacts between the people and the world of gods. When the Sami were to be converted to Christianity, the Church principally directed its persecution at the shaman and his tool, the drum. The Sami were forbidden by law from possessing a drum and practising their religion.

Appointed by the spirits
The shaman, or noajdde, was the central figure in Sami society. He was a doctor, prophet and officiator at major sacrifices. He had been appointed by the spirits, and his most important duty was to maintain contact with the spirit worlds, especially the world of the dead. People turned to him when faced with various crises, such as famine or illness.

Went into a trance
In order to meet the forces in the other worlds, the shaman went into a trance. He was able to enter this state by yoiking and beating his drum. In the trance, the shaman's soul could travel to the other worlds, and there negotiate with gods or the dead. The shaman received assistance from his helping spirits: a bird, a reindeer bull, a fish and a snake. These were his guides, and they protected him on his journeys.

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