Forn Sed – The Fennoscandic Perspective


Perhaps one thing i can observe in Scandinavian Forn Sed (exept for the temporal, non emphasis on the “Viking Age”) is a perspective that is more Fennoscandic.

There are discussions on wether the Sámi influenced the magic known as “Sidr” or not and i get the feeling that people outside of Scandinavia might see the different linguistic and ethnic groups as more historically “distinct” than they are.

They are different linguistic branches but they are also living next door.

During parts of our history (Sweden was a “superpower” for a while) both Finland and Estonia where parts of  the Swedish empire.

To a Swede it is only natural that both Finnish and Sámi influences are very present in our language and culture since long back.

An area close to where i live is called “Finnveden” (“The Finn  Woods”) because it was inhabited by forrest Finns.

Linguistics

There are three major official languages in Sweden, the same as in Finland: Swedish,Finnish and Sámi.

There are loanwords between all three and in some cases loanwords have even come back to the original language.

One such case being the cityof Haparanda in Sweden, the name is a loan from the Finnish “Haapa Ranta” (“Aspen Beach”).

“Ranta” in turn is a loanword from the Swedish “Strand” (“Beach”).

So, from Swedish to Finnish and back to Swedish again.

Seite, Sidr and so on

When it comes to religion and cult practices one might draw conclusions from the likness of “Seidr” and the Sámi “Seite”.

Stabben: A siedi(worshiped stone) inBalsfjord.

Seite is a word from Sámi religion but is more a matter of a natural idol than a methodology or discipline. It is often a large rock, oddly shaped tree or other natural formation.

The symbol of goddessBeaivi, hypostasis of the Sunand breeder of mankind. It’s also the pattern for tradtional Sami ritual drums.

The Noaide (“Shaman” in lack of a better term) IS however using a Bodhran like drum and a singing voice (there  is a distinct Sámi way of singing called “Joik”) and i imagine contemporary practitioners of “neo seidr” see “utesittning” (“sitting out”) a bit in that fashion (Shamanic trance work).

Solveig Andersson, jojk “bjiejjie”

Some have speculated that Galdr may be influenced by Joik but the same has been done with Kulning / Kauking and that sounds very different and has a different vocal technique.

Kulning / Kauking (Sweden / Norway)

However, trying to produce some artificial “separateness” between the languages because they are not related (ignoring region as a factor) is simply denying connections that are there acording to any etymologist i have read.

The Sámi God Horagalles is often also called Tiermes.

Sami people worshipping Horagalles or Tiermes. Copper engraving by Bernard Picart from Cérémonies et coutumes religieuses de tous les peuples du monde(1723–43)
Horagalles is also called Thoragalles and have been called Thoron or quite simply Thor.
He is described as wielding a hammer (sometimes two), creating thunder and fighting the obstructing powers, protecting man. He often has a nail or piece of flint in his head (my own speculation draws paralells to the shard from Hrungnirs weapon left in Thors forehead).
“Horagalles” pretty much means Þórr Karl (Thor Man).
The fact that Sámi is an Ural language and Norse a Germanic one has no real bearing (nor any arguments for them being different cultures. They are still in the same region).
The Finnish “God of thunder” is called Perkele, probably connected to Perkunas. He too has a hammer is connected to oaks and so forth.
Now, Perkunas is Baltic, not Uralic.
The Sámi moon goddess is named “Mano”.
Who influenced whom, when,if and how is open to speculation but to pretend there are no likenesses is simply being obstinate.
In all fairness totally unrelated cultures, like the African Dahomey and Yoruba cultures also have a world pillar and an axe wielding “God of thunder” (Xangó / Changó) but there there is no regional closeness or etymological connections (obviously).
Indigenous
One must remember that the Sámi are indigenous to this region and where here before there even was a distinct Germanic culture or language.
It is perhaps (?) easy to think of the Sámi as some native nomads inhabiting some corner of Fennoscandia but in reality their traditional land took up (about) half of todays Sweden and Norway and Norse people would have been in frequent contact with them.

The area traditionally inhabited by the Sami people.

Sweden in the 12th century before the incorporation of Finlandduring the 13th century.

  Geats
  Swedes
  Gutes
They would have been in southern Norway already ca.8300 BC – 7300 BC as the Fosna/Hensbacka cultures.
Archeology shows that people reached Utjoki in Finnish Lapland around  8100 BC.
The Germanic culture didnt come into being until around 1800 BC.

Map of the Nordic Bronze Age culture, around 1200 BCE

During the Iron Age and Viking Age there was heavy taxation on the Sámi by the Norse.
It is believed that a lot of Sámi where assimilated into Norse culture.
There are no proof of direct battles but there are folkloric sources naming the “Stalo”, interpreted by preacher Laestadius as Vikings, that where hostile.
Finns
There is research ongoing that might prove the first pre glacial, Neandethal finds in the Nordic countries.
Otherwise people of the Kunda and Swiderian cultures reached Finland as the ice withdrew ariound 9000 BCE and are believed to be the ancestors of the Finns and the Sámi.
Written history in Finland starts after a Swedish conquest. Iron Age is considered to have lasted 500 BC until c.1150 AD, by what time the Swedes where present.
There where Viking settlements in Finland and a lot of both commercial contact as well as plundering since pre Christian times.
There was Swedish rule in Finland through Birger Jarl since around 1249 (Second Swedish Crusade).
Wars with Finns are described in the Sagas and in legends (though “Finland” or “Finns” in this case could mean either what we call Sámi or Finns in this case).
“It happened one summer that King Agne went with his army to Finland, and landed and marauded. The Finland people gathered a large army, and proceeded to the strife under a chief called Froste. There was a great battle, in which King Agne gained the victory, and Froste fell there with a great many of his people. King Agne proceeded with armed hand through Finland, subdued it, and made enormous booty.”
Ynglinga Saga  (taking place in the 4:th century)
Norna Gests Thattr tells of Finnic Kvens and Curonians raiding in Sweden in the 8:th century.
Karelians are blamed for raiding and burning Sigtuna 1187 according to Erics Chronicle 1335.
According to Saxo and Snorri many heroes of Scandinavia had Finnic roots.
According to Egils Saga Norway had conflicts with the Kvens 873.
Divinities (Norse)
Völund (Wayland) is described as the son of a Finnic (Sámi) king in Völundskvida.

The hero Völundr the ‘ruler of the elves’ (vísi álfar), sometimes thought to bedwarves, nicknamed ‘dark elves’ (dökkálfar)
Hilda Ellis Davidson theorizes that Skadi may have had Sámi connections. She is a skier, archer and hunter and a cult in Hålogaland, northern Norway might have thrived because of this (a place where Norse and Sámi people would have lived in close proxemity) and that her split with Njördr might be symbolic of  a similar split between her cult and that of the Vanir.

Skade (1893) by Carl Fredrik von Saltza
Conclusion
All i am really trying to say is that this separateness of the Norse people that seems to be a picture held by some  outside of Scandinavia is usually not the one held by Scandinavians or Nordic people, neither is it shared by scholars.
The Norse people, as far as evidence goes, seems to have been anything BUT separate, especially from those neighbouring them, they where influenced  in both language, clothing, religion, jewlery and a number of other things.
I dont speak for other Nordic or Swedish people but i would be surprised if i cold find even one Swede with an interest in history that could imagine Swedish pre history/history separate from that of Finland and Sápmi.
That naturally spills over in Forn Sed too…..it being “Forn” and all.
(Finnish, Sámi or other historians / archeologists / anthropologists, feel free to correct anything incorrect here. Especially Stone Age pre history is not my forte).
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