Nature and Magic as Representation of “The Sami”—Sami Shamanistic Material in Popular Culture
Theoretical Perspectives and Methodical Considerations
Instead of grounding our analysis on an essentialist view of either community or religion as being in danger of corruption by the forces of mass mediatization, entertainment and the logic of the market, it is more productive to explore how the use of electronic and digital media actually shapes the transformation—and hence continuation—of both communities and religion in our time.
The human capacity for play to the articulation of the tension experienced between inexpressibility and representation, between belonging and separation, between a unifying identification and a differentiating identity, adding an extra dimension to reality that allows the believers to overcome this tension
2.1. Frozen 2
2.4. Eurovision Song Contest 2017, 2019, and 2020—Elin & The Woods and KEiiNO
The world is how is supposed to be/ Hey o o yo o yo oh [joik]/ Even when rushing you will see that too/ Teyo oyo onyo ah/ Heyo oyo yo yo yo/ Exactly like the primal human/ You are what you are/ Teyo eyo oyo yoyo oh//
Just take the first step in faith/ Te yo oyo oyo ah/ Teyono oyo ah/ Teyono oyo oyo o yoyo yo ah/ Heiono oyo ah, heiono oyo ah/ Teyono oyo oyo o yoyo// You are nature and love/ Te yo o yo yono ah/ Accept that you are perfect/ Eyo oyo yo yo ah/ Heio oyo yo yo o ah// Let yourself be/ You are what you are/ Teyo eyo ojo jo//
Come into faith/ Come into faith/ Hey o lo leah lo leah lay la (x 4)/ Heyo o yo oyo oyo oh/ Te yo oyo oyo ah//
You and I/ Teyono oyo ah/ The first step in faith/ Teyono oyo oyo o yoyo yo ah/ Let us take/ The first step in faith/ Teyono oyo ah/ You and I/ Teyono oyo ah/ The first step in faith/ Teyono oyo oyo o yoyo/ Let us take/ The first step in faith/ Oyo oyo oyo oyo o
He-lo e loi-la [joik]
Where do we begin?/ We are light and paper thin/ Born without a name/ Different and we’re still the same//
Guldalat/ Váimmusteamet/ Mii Oktan// [“We listen to our hearts as one”]
Leave for Neverland/ Your destiny is in your hands (We are, we are)/ Live in harmony/ Only love will set you free (We are, we are)//
Light the sky, you’re a shooting star (We are, we are)/ Shining no matter who you are (We are as one)/ Look inside, see what you will find (We are, we are)/ Always grow with an open mind (We are, we are) As one//
Oktan mii leat [joik](x 3)/ As one/ Oktan mii leat/ As one/ Mii oktan/ As one
Can’t you stay/ Stay with me into the night?/ Stay, I need you close/ You can go back when the sun rise again/ Just stay tonight, just stay//
Have you seen my spirit/ Lost in the night?/ The violent nightshade/ They took away my light/ They call us nothing/ My name is nothing/ Come see me/ Please see me//
‘Cause I’ve been running with the demons now/ They all see my fear/ They say there’s nothing/ Nothing here//
I see your spirit in the sky/ When northern lights are dancing/ He-lo e loi-la [joik]/ I hear you calling me at night/ Whenever wind is blowing/ He-lo e loi-la (x 2)/ Čajet dan čuovgga [“show me the light”, North-Sami]//
I’ll follow you until the daylight/ Shy us away//
I need a hero/ I need my light/ Her shining lightwaves/ Will break away the night/ I call it freedom/ Our name is freedom/ Come find me/ Please find me//
‘Cause I am dancing with the fairies now/ They all sing our name/ I got my light here/ Shining here//
I hear you calling me at night/ Whenever wind is blowing/ He-lo e loi-la//
I can see your spirit in the sky/ When northern lights are dancing/ He-lo e loi-la/ Čajet dan čuovgga (x 2)
3. Pictures of the Sami and Sami Shamanism in the Visual Media
3.1. The Sami Magic and Mystery through ESC Songs
3.2. Why Such an Appeal to Sami Shamanism and Religion, and Why Now?
I take the material turn, including assemblage theory and ideas of New Materialism, as an inspiration to discover new relations or connections between things and humans. However, a reversed view, the frequently invoked non-anthropocentric perspective, can only be realized in a playful mode, with nevertheless serious consequences, since it is always the human being who reflects upon her or his relation to things and the complexity of the material world with which she or he is entangled.
Conflicts of Interest
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Sami singers and songwriters have several times participated in MGP (Melodi Grand Prix)/ESC in both Norway and Sweden. In 1960, Norway debuted in ESC when the ethnic Norwegian Nora Brockstedt performed the song “Voi voi” that ended up in fourth place. The title is a somewhat misspelled version of Sami “hi”, and Brockstedt was dressed as a Sami girl singing to her beloved one far away, about their next meeting. This representation of the Sami by a Norwegian would not be relevant or accepted today. For an overview over Sami entries and contributions to ESC from Norway, Sweden, and Finland, see (Maude 2019).
I do not speak any of the three Sami languages, so I am depending on the accuracy of the translation online (BertBrac 2017). It is stated that it is taken from the official translation by Elin & The Wood, but I have not been able to find the original translation that is referred to.
The performance is available at (Elin & The Woods 2017).
The performance is available at (Elin & The Woods 2020b).
Here, analysis will primarily be based on this performance of the song, available at (Eurovision Song Contest 2019). However, the group released an official music video in April 2019 for the song, related to quite different tropes and symbols than those prominent in their scenic shows, where the Norwegian members of the group (quite humorously) are dressed up as (spirit) animals (KEiiNO 2019). Notably, Buljo is not dressed up or “funny” in this more parodic video.
The animals are also shown in KEiiNO’s Instagram post (keiinomusic 2019). Upon question, Buljo states that both the reindeer and the stag are his spirit animals, as their Asian illustrator first thought a reindeer was the same as a stag, when designing the logo for «Spirit in the Sky» (personal communication, 4 August 2020).
When the 2020 Norwegian MGP final was held, last year’s winner was, as is the tradition, opening the show. In this version of their song and show, KEiiNO wanted to highlight the “minority within the minority” and had four South-Sami male joikers dressed in the South-Sami kofte with them (Larsen 2020).
This Disney elaboration of Sami shamanism for children is in stark contrast to their 2013 Donald Duck story about the vile Sami shaman Elmeri (Kalvig 2015, pp. 82–84).
Cf. (Jannok 2020a, 2020b).
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Kalvig, A. Nature and Magic as Representation of “The Sami”—Sami Shamanistic Material in Popular Culture. Religions 2020, 11, 453. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11090453
Kalvig A. Nature and Magic as Representation of “The Sami”—Sami Shamanistic Material in Popular Culture. Religions. 2020; 11(9):453. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11090453Chicago/Turabian Style
Kalvig, Anne. 2020. "Nature and Magic as Representation of “The Sami”—Sami Shamanistic Material in Popular Culture" Religions 11, no. 9: 453. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11090453