Adventures in NaNo-land – Heavenly Bodies

November 30, 2012 at 3:18 am (fantasy, writing) (, , , , , , , , )

Almost every mythology has their version of an afterlife, one where a person’s spirit can either live on or go through transition for rebirth into a new body, and sometimes it’s a place where gods and mortal spirits interact. But with most mythologies, this place can only be visited via death. Saivo, the afterlife of Sami legend, is different in that the Sami shamans, the noaidi, could supposedly visit that place where gods and mortals come together while still alive. They would chant songs called joik to put them into a trance, and while in that trance, they could transcend to saivo. Once there, they could speak to, and even negotiate with, the gods and the dead.

This special feature of the Sami mythology is touched on many times in the Trading of Skin, and I even dedicated an entire chapter, Chapter 15, to saivo. It’s difficult to describe a spirit world, something that is both immaterial yet at the same time very significant. I gave it a good shot, and I hope I managed to capture the sense of surreal intangibility I was looking for. Here’s a short excerpt (first draft):

Closing his eyes and settling back, Oaván began the joik, the traditional chant that would carry him into a trance and allow him to transcend to saivo. His limbs were so heavy with fatigue they were eager to relax their hold on his free soul and allow it to vacate his body. The process was much quicker than he had anticipated, and he welcomed the relief it provided to his aching joints and muscles. The pain was still there, but by separating himself from his body, he removed himself from all physical complaints. The only things that could hurt him now were spiritual in nature, like his grief for his father, his fears for Dáidu, and the knowledge that he soon would be saying good-bye to Lieđđi.

“Not just yet though,” a voice told him, as if it had heard his thought spoken aloud. He looked around, surprised. “Thoughts and feelings are speech here. You can hide nothing. We exist completely in truth.”

Oaván recognized that voice. It was Lieđđi’s. Only just getting his bearings in saivo, Oaván was startled to find the Haldi woman’s soul hovering so close to his own. He recoiled from her, trying to make sense of it all.

“What are you doing here?” he asked. “I thought you said you couldn’t fetch Dáidu back.”

“I can’t. I’m not here for Dáidu. I’m here to accompany you,”

“But I’m not lost.” Oaván glanced around, taking in his surroundings.

Everything was so surreal and there didn’t seem to be a distinct up, down, left or right, but for some reason he was not bothered by this. While not familiar, Oaván sensed this place was just “right”. He felt no discomfort other than the burden of his own emotions, but even they seemed lighter than usual, although in some ways more vivid – more concrete.

“Not yet, anyway.”

He did know the path back, without having to put in any effort to find it, and he had an inkling of the direction he would have to travel to locate his errant brother. At just the thought of Dáidu, a strand of the ethos surrounding them lit up and pointed the way. Everything about saivo was fascinating and miraculous.

More tomorrow J

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