Monday, March 15, 2010

A visit from the Reindeer People



Nacka Strand, Sweden
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The lead rider approaches at a slow trot, in a blur of white. The earflaps of his conical fur-lined cap turn up into points. He is quite close when I realize he is not riding a horse, but a reindeer. From the reindeer riders behind him, one dismounts and advances until I can see him quite distinctly. He is robed in skins and furs. There is a buttery gloss to his skin, under a hat with a broad band that is decorated with a pattern of stones or beads; some of them may be amber. The word "Mösa" comes to me, spelled like that, with the two dots. He is the leader of this band, and I know they are Sami, reindeer people of the far north. The chief brings forward a beautiful young woman who looks more Asiatic than European, with high cheekbones and slightly slanted dark eyes. I am given her name, but will not record that here. I am instructed that she will be Speaker for her people.
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The first word she plants in my mind is "Sami", but it does not come through in the normal pronunciation ("Sah-mi"); it comes through as "Say-me". This is followed by a rapid stream of information, too fast for me to receive word by word, a kind of primal burst transmission. I understand I am being given things, mind to mind, that will unfold over time. I am being prepared to accept an invitation to enter the world of the Sami, the shamanic dreamers of the far north.
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This visitation took place in the twilight state, in that in-between state of consciousness the French used to call dorveille ("sleep-wake"). It is a just-so experience, reminiscent of encounters with Speakers for other ancient and indigenous traditions that I have had in my travels; for example, with a zhyne (priestess) of Zhemyna, the Baltic Earth goddess, who instructed me in visions when I first visited Lithuania, as described in my Dreamer's Book of the Dead, or with the ancient Mohawk arendiwanen ("woman of power") and Mother of the Wolf Clan I call Island Woman. I feel honored by this visitation by the Sami, whose shamans, or noaides, were revered and feared, riding their reindeer hide drums, beaten with reindeer bone tappers, between the worlds.
O
In the morning, at my workshop, I recount this incident. A young woman tells me that her mother is Sami and insists on exact descriptions of my visitors' headgear and clothes. "That word Mösa? That is the Norwegian name for a fur hat. Maybe the headman came to you from Norway, where Sami also live." A man in the group who has studied shamanism and indigenous cultures in many countries is excited that a link with Sapmi (the Sami heartland) seems to have been made in this direct way. "You know, the drums of the great Sami shamans, confiscated in the days of religious persecution, are still kept locked up in Stockholm where no one can see them." Another member of the group knows a Sami woman noaide who lives in a far northern village; she volunteers to introduce me.
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The young woman with the Sami mother pulls me aside. She wants to give her explanation of the unusual pronunciation of the word "Sami" in my night encounter. "They are saying, Same-Me. They are telling you they see you as one like them." Oh dear. Could be the start of yet another adventure.

8 comments:

Savannah said...

What a beautiful encounter Robert, thank you for sharing it! Besides say-me-speak-for-me and same-me it's hard not to hear moss echoed in Mösa... maybe as a speaker for a tradition whose drums have been locked away (I find that image rather shocking).

diane said...

This reminds me of the Christmas story you wrote for the little boy and posted I think it was the Christmas before last - it may not be of the same tradition? but none the less, you reached to the shamans of the flying antlered deer.

My first thought was also, "same-me", and seems perfectly so.

Nancy said...

OK, I can't resist playing the word game. My first thought was SAMe, a vitamin supplement pronounced "sam-eeh", which I believe is for neurotransmitter support. I guess you're growing the biological Web of Light!
Nancy

Patty said...

Robert
Would you be interested in doing a workshop in Norway? Maybe if you go back to Sweden next summer. My sister house a nice sized, well kept farm house in Stryn and I love cooking for people. And they have great summer beer there, a magnificent glacier and easy trips to the fjord? There is also family stories around alien cows that wander into the yard and a dragon who keeps watch at a drinking spot by a stream in the valley.
Patty

Robert Moss said...

Savannah, Thanks for finding the moss in Mösa!

Diane, Thanks for recalling my First Santa story, which was indeed in inspired by the practices of Sami noaides riding sleighs pulled by reindeer through the three tiers of the shamanic cosmos.

Nancy, I know nothing of that vitamin supplement, but "neurotransmitter support" is an interesting phrase since I felt the Sami were communicating by a kind of mind-to-mind "burst transmission" whose full content will only become known and accessible over time.

Robert Moss said...

Patty, Your sister's setup in Norway sounds lovely - maybe a place for R&R with an informal dreaming family rather than a workshop (for which the minimum number is usually 30)- if time ever allows for that. Northern Europe is certainly calling me. On my current trip, I have received invitations to lead new workshops in no fewer than seven countries in the region (including the two - Sweden and Lithuania - that I have visited this time.

Katie said...

as someone who studies physical anthropology I could tell by your phenotype[face] immediately that you have some altaic/siberian or uralic origins,not at all suprised by your dream.

Katie said...

dna test by dnatribes/23andme etc would uncover it.