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Finnmark 2007 Diary » Blog Archive » Healers and seers

Healers and seers


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Latitude: 69 degrees,06 58 N
Longitude: 20 degrees,06 01 E
Temperature: -8
Time: 9am
Date: 30th March 2007

The journey proceeds, meetings continue with these hard-working, joyful spit-in-the-palms-and knuckle-down people who find no contradiction in being semi-nomadic farming workers since ten thousand years ( ie not prone to hasty working decisions) AND deeply imbued with a motivating sense of their their own culture, qualities, and potential. Of course they can also be drunkards, hooligans, and as mediocre as the rest of us, but luck brings luck and we seem to be meeting the young and the best.

They make us laugh and wonder, as they do themselves. It’s good, for example, to meet healers, weathermen, soothsayers, finders, and seers with a strong sense of the comic, solid practicality, and simple humility at the powers that they’ve been given to use - without payment. From all over Finnmark, from Oslo, Stockholm, to places such as Tokyo and Washington their patients call them. We’ve met a couple of these modern community workers, or magicians, recently…or Shamen, or Noiade (in Sami) - a young man and an old woman.

The first we bumped into in a cabin on the mountainside by Dittnujauri close to the Finnish border. A short inoffensive looking fellow of 32 in specs with thinning hair and a slight facial tick. His friend told us that he should have been organising the plumbing at his new house, but that he’d gone skiving into the hills for a bit of fishing.

Nils Ainar Samulsen is a third generation healer,working closely in the context of the Laestedian Christian brethren. He asked us thoughtful questions about our journey, beaming short-sightedly at our answers and enthusiasm, and commenting with generosity and openness to opinions different from his own. He still trains with the army as part of their Fast Reaction Emergency Force. Apparently the bigger guys in his squad thought he offered a butt for some good laughs. They challenged him to a run across the mountains with extra heavy packs. Good-naturedly he accepted, and over the fifty kilometres of the course ran them into the ground and off their feet. He’d spent his life in the hills, working with his sheep, and travelling on foot among the villages, as his father and grandfather had done before him, to help people with his healing, with some plumbing on the side! He works face to face when he can, but otherwise long distance, and is considered a leader even by those who are not of his persuasion or religious convictions.

The second healer we met was an old woman of 76. Small, round, silver-haired, in a Norwegian cardigan with silver buttons, and black skirt shiny with age, she invited us into her cabin on the edge of the majestic Lyngen Fjord. Borkhill Robertsen, of the mild, unlined countenance, is a sea Sami, but comes from that generation that was so abused in the processes of Norwegianisation that she cannot, even today, admit to her origins. Humiliated as a child for being Sami, punished, in the boarding school she was forced to attend, for speaking her native language, she married a Norwegian, and passed on nothing of her culture to her children, except, that is, her strange talents to heal and to see… This was given, she said, as her father gave to her, at the age of 7 or 8, to whichever one of the children had come closest to death. She had been chosen, after nearly dying of meningitis. She, in her turn, had chosen her daughter earlier still, when the latter had nearly died of something like ‘Cot Death’.

Borkhill works with prayer and second sight. Her skills are used all round the world, particularly for arthritis, eczema, bleeding (internal and external), all forms of burns, as well as for general accidents. She was first asked to heal her sister at the age of 8, and thereafter a man with toothache. He frightened her so badly, that she ran out of the house and into the woods to get away. For hours she stayed away praying that his toothache would go away so that she could go home. He’d left, in fact, after a few minutes, her reputation grew fast, and what she’d feared then came to pass. Her work as a healer took over her life.

But one thing she’d deeply regretted, she told us, was that people could not hear her prophesies. She’d predicted a landslide in her neighbourhood, had asked her husband and another friend to tell the nine people, whose houses and lives would be involved, but none had listened and all died. To us this sounded biblical. On another occasion she’d seen aircraft, pouring bombs out of the sky, and seven and a half moons glinting. This before the first Iraqi war. She’d dreamt helplessly of the floods in Bangladesh, of local and international incidents. On climate change she had more success apparently, as people listened when she spoke of the sun burning more warmly. “But the warmth also comes from the earth,” she informed us, and together with the sun’s will grow.”

Why is it that sophisticated societies like ours no longer appear to have space for such people? And paradoxes are surely good for the brain…

Here we’ve met with Sea Sami folk living around the Lyngen Alps, in one of the most spectacularly beautiful parts of Norway. Tommorrow we leave for the last leg of our journey, first back with the dogs into the mountains, and then down into Sweden and across towards Narvik and the Atlantic. There are some difficulties between reindeer herders on either side of the border, because of encroaching and overused herding lands, and we hope to meet some of those involved, as well as local climate experts on the region.

One Response to “Healers and seers”

  1. Elise Says:

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    Dear Adam et co, Thrilled to read you seem to meet just the right people on your journey. I bet somewhere they all knew form a saying you would be there this winther… If your journey could bring healing and better understanding between the reindeersamis and the fishingsamis it would sure be a blessing. I hear a lot about the fishingsamis who feel undervalued. Love
    Elise

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