Sami-shamanism in Norway: A Patchwork of Traditions and Organizations
Trude Fonneland [+]
University of Tromsø
‘Shamanism is a 30,000-year-old spiritual practice where one uses trance techniques to communicate with the forces of nature and the world of the spirits’. This is how shamanism is presented on Shamanistic Association’s homepage, an association which was recognized as a distinct religious community in Norway in 2012. This means that, according to the laws regulating religious bodies in Norway, they may perform such religious ceremonies as baptisms, conformations, weddings and funerals, and, additionally, gain financial support from the membership. In Norway neo-shamanism has been part of the religious landscape since the early 1980s and from the late 1990s professional neo-shamans like Ailo Gaup and Eirik Myrhaug have been depicted as representatives of an ancient Sami shamanic tradition. The Norwegian New Age-scene has also increasingly been filled with Sami shamans, symbols and traditions, along with a new focus on local- and place specific characteristics unique to the Northern region. A central theme of this paper is to highlight the developments within the neo-shamanistic environment in Norway - showing how transnational religious ideas and practices take on local distinguishing features to acquire meaning and define community. It describes the dynamics of a cultural creation whereby abstract concepts and ideas find moorings in a local community and in participants’ reality here and now – gradually generating a distinct cultural field, the field of northern shamanism.