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<P align="justify"> The Saami have u … <P align="justify"> The Saami have used many animals and their behaviour as omens, mainly presaging death. This is generally a common use of omens ([[The death and the dead ones|Death and the dead)]]. </P><P align="justify"> <i>Mieðus</i>, which meant a prey that was caught in an unusual or unexpected way, often too easily, or one that was too good, was a certain sign of death. The idea behind the <i>mieðus</i> image can be taken to mean that life should not be too easy; excessive good fortune meant a change in the normal order of things, which in the end could not have favourable consequences.</P><P align="justify"> Many birds were used as omens. It was said that if a woodpecker flew and called out in front of a person, a relative of the latter would die, and if it flew behind the person, he or she would die. The cuckoo was considered as a particularly evil bird and a harbinger of death. In the Finnish dialect of Lapland it was called korttolintu, which means the bird of ill omen . People believed that if a person heard a cuckoo call for the first time in the spring before he or she had had anything to eat in the morning, it augured certain death during that year. This belief was a strong one, and it was taken so seriously that many Saamis always kept a snack under their pillows. There was a similar belief about the arctic loon, the raven, the swan, the goose, the great tit and some other birds. The cuckoo s call was also used for calculating the years of life a person had left. The idea of a bird of ill omen recalls the birds that were believed to be the assistants of the shaman. When [[Shamanism|shamanism]] and beliefs associated with it were criminalized, these came down into the later tradition in a demonised form. The shaman s bird was inevitably interpreted as working for an evil witch and thus as auguring and causing death. On the other hand, the Siberian jay was regarded as a lucky bird, which if it approached a person who was outside or asleep was a sign of good fortune; finding its nest, on the other hand, once again meant death.</P>
<P align="justify"> It is difficult to discover the background behind some former animal beliefs: for example, in Inari it was thought that if a bull reindeer in the rutting season should stop and point its erect penis at a herder, the later would die within a year. In others, on the other hand, it is possible to discern a sanctioning function related to hygiene or good housekeeping: for instance, in Inari it was said that if a mouse chewed a man s item of clothing, his wife would die; if it was a boy s garment, his younger sister would die, if a girl s then her elder brother, and if a child s then the child itself was doomed.</P>
<P align="justify"> The mass migration of lemmings meant war and unrest, but when they appeared in reasonable numbers in summer, they portended good years for reindeer herding and hunting. Similarly if they dug into the snow in winter like reindeer, it also meant good years for reindeer herding.</P>good years for reindeer herding.</P> +