Skip to main content

Gods From Lapland

Niina is a folklorist and a storyteller who loves to research and explore myths from all around the world.

gods-from-lapland

God of Thunder

Many Saami deities were viewed as invisible forces of nature rather than being personified as humans. There are several names for various deities because there are numerous Saami dialects. The thunder god was known by many names, including Horagállis, Hovregállis, ijjh, Dearpmes, Tiermes, Bájan, and ddjá.

The hammer, a traditional sign for a thunder deity in Europe, served as Horagállis' emblem. Other well-known thunder gods in the northern hemisphere include Ukko/Ilmarinen from Finland, Thor from Scandinavian mythology, and Uku from Estonia.

The thunder god was revered as the source of rain in Saami culture. He was revered as the reindeer and human guardian. Horagállis was said to purify the air and wipe away sickness.

gods-from-lapland

Saami culture was a hunting society dominated by men. There were clear behavioral distinctions between men and women, including spirituality. For women, veneration of Horagállis was forbidden. Only men were permitted to adore him. The Horagállis hammer in the shaman drum resembles a cross somewhat. Because it could produce terrible thunder and lightning, his hammer was feared.

Both people and animals could die from lightning strikes. Furious gods may break mountains and unleash floods. Hammers were used as sacrificed presents and typically painted with blood to appease Horagállis. Male reindeer were also offered as sacrifices.

The most well-known Horagállis worship site in northern Finland is an island in Lapland named Ukonsaari in the Inari Lake. The island is a faraway location with rugged walls. Even in the 19th century, its caves were frequently used as sites for sacrifice.

gods-from-lapland

The Windman

The Windman is a figure holding two shovels in the shaman drum. Biegga-almmái is also known as Ilmaris among the eastern Saami tribes. This name is reminiscent of the Finno-Ugric god of air, Inmar, who was revered by various tribes. A similar god known as Ilma in Finnish mythology subsequently changed his name to Ilmarinen, the celestial blacksmith god.

The Windman was thought to be an invisible ghost who resided at the summits of mountains and rocky hills, locations where the wind was always untamed and unrestrained. The Saami people, the top reindeer herders, were greatly influenced by the wind, and the wind's direction dictated the reindeer packs' motions.

The weather was controlled by Biegga-almmái, who had the power to produce blizzards, hurricanes, and strong winds.

Dark Spirits in Saami Folklore

gods-from-lapland

God of Hunting

Leaibealmmái, the god of hunting, was said to reside inside elm trees. The Saami revered alders as sacred trees because their red sap symbolized blood. Leaibealmmái was thought to be in charge of all livestock, excluding reindeer.

Saami hunters colored their arrows red by creating a dye with boiled alder bark. There was a mysterious bond formed between hunters and the prey by these red arrows. Additionally, Saami shaman drums were painted with patterns using this red color.

gods-from-lapland

God of Community

In Saami mythology, Radien represented the sky. He was also known by the names Veralden-Radien, Veralden Olmai, Tsorve-Radien, Mailmen Radien, Kierfva-Radie, Ipmil, Jubmel, and Ráddenáchhi. Everyone worshipped Radien. The name Radien, which means "ruler" in literal terms, alludes to an invisible spirit that is abstract.

No natural phenomenon was personified in him. Radien stood for interpersonal relationships. Additionally, Radien had his own family. His wife's name was Raddenahkka. One of the spring goddesses was his daughter Rana Niejta, and he had a son named Ráddenbárdni.

Radien was associated with the world tree, human relationships, reindeer, and fertility. It was customary to plant trees in Radien's memory. The world tree was occasionally viewed as a communal emblem (with humans, deities, animals, and all spirits being connected).

Radien had a relationship with both life and death. Some believed that Radien was the one who greeted the dead and would lead them through the process of rebirth. When Christian mythology began to have a greater influence on Saami mythology, Radien began to resemble a Christian deity. He had a strong connection to birth as well. The earth goddess Máttaráhkka joined the soul to the body when the child was created by Radien, who also sent the infant's life and spirit to the womb.

Northern Lights in Saami Mythology

Mannu the Moon

Numerous beliefs were related to the moon. The moon has historically been viewed as a masculine figure in Saami mythology. The Saami were skilled astrologers who could determine the optimal time to go hunting and fishing based on the moon's position.

One of the most widespread myths was that a troll ate the moon in the sky during an eclipse. Another version of the eclipse claimed that a thief had painted the moon black in order to prevent moonlight from exposing him as he committed all of his terrible actions during the night.

gods-from-lapland

God of Disease

The demon of diseases was referred to as Rota, also known as Ruto. Ruto was depicted as a horse-riding figure in the shaman drum. It was thought that Ruto was a disease or illness that rode into a person and would go after the person was healed. Ruto was offered horses during healing rites, and diseases were conjured to leave the individual and enter the horse.

Ruto was the personification of evil in the Saami culture, but he wasn't referred to as a god, more like a small demon. Later, under the influence of Christianity, Ruto rose to power and took control of Rotaimo, the underworld where all the wicked spirits resided.

Sources

Pentikäinen, Juha. (1995). Sami People: The Mythology of the Northern People. Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Seura.

"Sami goddesses." (n.d.). Thuleia Tupa, https://www.thuleia.com/jumalattaret.html.

© 2022 Niina Pekantytar