Ovdasaš - etiäinen

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Ovdasaš - etiäinen

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Sisällysluettelo: Muinaisusko, mytologia ja folklore

Risto Pulkkinen

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Ovdasaš is a visual or auditory apparition. A visual ovdasaš may be in the form of a completely identifiable individual, but more common are auditory visitations like the sound of knocks, steps or skis in the snow, where the identity of the visitant is unclear, or at least uncertain. Although in principle anyone could encounter an ovdasaš, experiencing powerful visual apparitions was thought to be possible only for the strong-blooded (nanavaralaččat), i.e. persons who were generally disposed to seeing supranormal beings such as ancestors or spirits. Traditionally, such experiences were not felt to be threatening, although seeing an ovdasaš was sometime thought to be an omen of death, especially if it was a visually unclear apparition (váiggas). Even today, people sometimes claim that they have experienced a visitation because they have coffee made in readiness for the arrival of an unexpected visitor. Apart from apparitions proper, which appear before one, in the Saami tradition there are also types of ovdasaš that followed one (maččasaš). The word fárrosaš travelling companion covers both types.

Stories about apparitions are very common in Saami folklore. The Saami themselves did not speculate about the actual nature of the ovdasaš. In terms of the phenomenology of religion, it has been suggested it was a manifestation of a free soul (the Soul), but this is not a credible interpretation because the fárrosaš might appear to a person who was not in a state of trance, sleep or unconsciousness. From the point of view of comparative religion, the fárrosaš rather represents a kind of spiritual double of a kind fairly common in folk beliefs, a guardian spirit who looks after a person's wellbeing and happiness. At the level of folk religion, conceptions about man s spiritual dimensions (the free soul, the fellow traveller) are fairly fuzzy, and there is also considerable variation from place to place.

In the later tradition, ovdasaš was also used of a ghost sent by a vengeful shaman to haunt a person. This is a late, secondary meaning which represents the degeneration of the tradition.

Risto Pulkkinen

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