Saami - Religion

The Saami of the Kola Peninsula were considered Russian Orthodox. Their Christianization, however, was rather superficial and did not destroy their pre-Christian religion. Of the pre-Christian beliefs, those most characteristic of the Saami were reverence for heavenly bodies (sun, moon) and the deification of diverse aspects of nature. Especially widespread was a belief in the divine patrons of the hunt. Particular respect, for example, was enjoyed by the Mistress of the Reindeer Herds, Luot-Khozik. Reindeer herding was also protected by the Guardians of Grass, or Razi-aike. Other guardian gods were Pots, Khozin, and Pots'-khozik. Saami mythology included numerous spirits, who resided everywhere—on the earth, in the water, in the air, under the earth. In the past, devotion to sacred stones ( seids ) was also widespread. The seids were large anthropomorphic stones or small mounds of small stones, usually located near water and hunting sites. Offerings were brought to the seids (Saami rubbed the stone with the blood of a slain animal, with fish fat, and so forth). The cult of the seids was related both to ancestor rituals and to hunting rituals. At present the Saami are not especially religious. Members of the older generation continue to preserve in memory the legends about the origin of specific seids, and they believe in a life after death.

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