Beautiful Practice of the Sami People: Joiking, or Singing Your Essence

There were very few dry eyes in the audience of around 500 people in Stockholm, Sweden, as Åsa Simma joiked her name on stage in front of the International Council of the Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers last month.  Åsa is a Sami elder who had explained to us that joiking (pronounced yoiking),is a way of singing the essence of a person or place or plant, etc.  It is not really a song, but more of a sung expression.  Traditionally each Sami child is given a joik when they are born. Hearing a joik is like hearing the sound of one’s soul…they have a mystical quality that takes the listener to a deep place within.  Åsa also explained to us that for many years, it was against the law for the Samis ( the indigenous people of far northern Scandinavia and Russia) to joik!  They were not allowed to joik the names of their children or family members, or even themselves.  So, you can imagine the powerful experience of hearing her joik her name before all of us in the auditorium. Her soul’s expression touched us deeply, as our souls felt and recognized the beauty of these sounds. (You can find out more about the Sami people by viewing this beautiful, short film created by Åsa Simma here: Film
This experience lead me back to thinking about a subject that I have been teaching and writing about:  giving voice to my SoulCollage(R) cards, or other art pieces, through sound and music.  Instead of dialoguing in words with them, or asking them their name, what if I asked my mandala or SoulCollage(R) card to sing their essence to me?  Maybe this is something you would like to try…or what about singing your essence as you look in the mirror?  The results could be profound, and the process could be quite joyful.
To listen to a beautiful  example of joiking, click here: Yoik of the Wind

Sami Structure, photo taken at Skansen Museum, Stockholm


Gathering Around the Fire

Photo taken at Skansen Museum in Stockholm

During my trip to Sweden and Germany with the International Council of the Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers, I found myself drawn to the energy of the ceremonial fire which burned for four days in Sweden, and three days in Germany.  The fire was the place where we gathered at the beginning of each day and at the end.  There were ceremonies, prayers, celebrations, healings and above all it was a place for everyone to be together in sacred space.  In both countries, the fire was held in a public space, so people on the street, who had no idea what was going on, would join us out of curiosity, or perhaps because they were drawn to the fire for reasons unknown to them.
One such person was an elderly woman in Stockholm, who had been begging for money in the park where the fire was held.  She appeared to be homeless, wore a scarf, and many clothes even in the summer warmth. Most of us had tried to ignore her, being told not to give money to beggars on the streets. However, the Grandmothers modeled for all of us bystanders, how to treat an elder:  they invited her into the circle around the fire and then they gathered around her.  One by one, each of the Grandmothers blessed her and honored her as an elder.  This woman seemed stunned at first, tears glistened in her eyes as she stared in disbelief at these women praying for her.  She was there at the fire each day, waiting for the Grandmothers, and each day the tears filled her eyes as they acknowledged her presence.  She was not begging for anything while in that circle.  She was feeling welcomed, accepted, honored and respected, which seemed to be most fulfilling to her.
As I witnessed this beautiful demonstration of unconditional love and acceptance, I thought of my inner hearth…my fire where I wish to gather the many parts of myself and help them feel at home.  I wonder if the homeless ones within me, the parts of me that I would rather not see or deal with, the parts that I may be ashamed of, I wonder if I have the strength and the compassion to welcome these needy ones….can I honor them, bless them, pray for them, and accept them into the inner circle?