Nacka Strand, Sweden-
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.-
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.
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.
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.
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.