Snow and the Sami

Spectacle and Spirituality

Snow and Sami

 There was the faintest echo of a fighter-pilot scramble, coupled with maybe that whiff of breathless freedom at the end of a middle school maths lesson.   Chairs rumbled and tumbled, and a cacophony of cutlery on ceramic erupted through the serenity of the dining room.  “Ladies and gentlemen. The northern lights can be seen at the front of the ship”.  Desserts were deserted.

 For what seemed a precious few minutes (but was probably closer to half an hour) a grey-green kaleidoscope of sun-driven electromagnetism swooped and swirled above us.  The magic and majesty of this remarkable experience was undimmed by the knowledge of its scientific functionality.  After a while, my wife Ros asked if we should actually be dowsing something.  “Probably” I replied, but it seemed so important to stay in the moment – and it was the only such moment, as it later transpired.

The Nordkapp (or North Cape) is, somewhat arguably, the most northerly point of the European mainland.  Apart from a lavish café and cinema, there is nothing else there at this time of year – that is, other than a spectacular snowy wilderness for miles around. It is a place to be ‘because it’s there’, a place just to enjoy.  However, despite the very necessary arctic protective wear, we did manage to dowse a few energy lines – which felt strong and sharp, in a very Nordic manner.

 On our way back to the welcome warmth of the visitor centre, we chanced across a typically unusual Scandinavian stone landscape sculpture entitled ‘Children of the Earth’, which felt as if it deserved the attention of the dowser.  In the extreme conditions, I cut short the well-practised protocol and just asked for the most important aspect for dowsing activity in the vicinity.  I was led to what I expected to be the centre of a spiral, but to my surprise I found myself following a complicated pattern, consisting of saw-toothed lines and arcs, which bent back on itself several times. Neither pictogram nor manifestation, it seemed to be yet another type of earth energy feature, which was a combination of the heightened energies of the planet, mingled with the consciousness of the pre-Norwegian Sami culture, the sculptor and, presumably, that of the dowser.  At the very centre of the invisible tableau, the rods rotated, indicating that I had reached the sacred pivot of the pattern.  I looked up to find myself being pointed at directly by the stone finger of a statue of a young boy, and under the gaze of a petrified woman – presumably his mother.  A hair-tingling instant.

 To add a further level of surreality to the brief encounter, a lady from Texas (and we thought we were out of our comfort zone!) came over to see what we were doing. After a brief discussion about water-witching, she walked to exactly the same spot where I had been dowsing, pulled out a small flute and proceeded to play a tune – which apparently she has been doing at significant sacred sites throughout the world.

Having been brought up in post-war Southampton, and then having spent most of my adult life in reconstructed Plymouth, I am no stranger to the aftermath of WWII. However, it had evaded my knowledge of European history that many of the small fishing towns of occupied northern Norway had been completely burnt to the ground by the retreating German army.  In many cases, only the churches remained – and in little Hammerfest, even they were reduced to smouldering embers.  

We had a couple of hours while the ferry was in dock to have a walk around the rebuilt town in the invigoratingly fresh air.  The main church was hosting a funeral, complete with the Norwegian flag at half-mast, so we ambled up to the other end of town, where Ros noticed a striking mosaic on the side of another religious building – the area’s Roman Catholic church, rebuilt in 1958 with help from German catholics, who had also suffered under the nazi regime. On closer examination, the mosaic turned out to be a massive image of St Michael (aka St George) about to spear a not-very-scary red dragon that would not have looked out of place at Cardiff Arms Park.  Interestingly, while the Saint’s 30ft cross-topped sword points straight at the sanguine serpent, it doesn’t actually touch it.

 I dowsed across in front of the building, finding a wide ‘female’ energy line running straight into it.  Being temporarily more interested in not breaking a leg on the thickly-iced and uneven pavement, I just followed the rods.  Only when I bumped into the front wall did I look up to find that Michael’s enormous silver-coloured weapon was now pointing through the head of the dragon, through me and into the current below.

 Were the designers of the church aware of this remarkable ‘coincidence’? “Yes, they were”.   Were the designers of the previous wooden church also aware – a more equivocal response.   My dowsing indicated that when the former church was constructed in the 19th Century, it was not built on a vacant plot. This place had been the site of a man-modified rock outcrop, revered by the Sami people for many generations.  Further up the cliff behind the RC church, you can still see other naturalistic outcrops that may also be on this line.

 As with the Aborigines and the Apache, the Welsh and the Waitatha, incoming imperialists and evangelists did their best to eradicate the native culture of the people they met.  The Sami were no exception.  Yet despite the mass burning of their prayer drums and the banning of their spoken language, the Sami are making a spirited comeback.  Their philosophy is unashamedly rooted in eastern shamanism and in these more enlightened days, both the diviner and the devotee may have much to learn from these pre-European Scandinavians.

To add yet another layer to this generously-iced cake, a modern sculpture of the Madonna has been erected in front of the Catholic church, on what is probably grass for at least some part of the endless summer sunlight.  She stands plum in the centre of the ‘female’ energy flow.  Did those who commissioned the statue know about the earth energies of this place?  “Your ship is leaving in a few minutes, so you had better get going, now – and don’t try to run on the ice!”

Nigel Twinn

February 2014