Holy mountains

Holy mountains are found in all Sámi areas. They often have names with words like basse, álda or sáivu, or others associated with something holy.

The Sámi believed that dead ancestors, spirits and other divine forces inhabited these mountains. The mountains could also be entrances to the realm of the dead or the sáivu world.

Saajve or saajve-vaerieh (south Sámi ) are an important south Sámi tradition. These were holy mountains in which spirits or ancestors (also called saajve) lived. Those who had saajve also had helper spirits. The more saajve you had, the more powerful and better regarded you were. These mountains are also called “heritage mountains”.

Holy mountains are the greatest Sámi sacred objects we know of. They may be isolated, or tower over the mountains around or have a characteristic appearance which makes them different from other mountains in the area. There are often offering sites on or near these mountains. A number of sources say that women were not allowed up onto the holy mountains or in the vicinity of the offering sites. There are still traditions that certain mountains should not be referred to by name.

Det ehllige fjellet Álda/Aldon. Govva/foto: R. Persson, VSM