We know about shamans in the Amazons, who are becoming more popular than ever, with the Holy Medicine bringing ‘Healing’ from the Holy and Divine Mother Ayahuasca to the people of the world. It is assumed that early shamans from all over the globe connected early humans with the Holy and Divine Mother Ayahuasca.
Researchers estimate that shamanisms is as old as humanity itself, with findings of shamanic works are being discovered all over the world, showing shamans practicing rituals estimated to be hundreds of thousands of years ago. In recent time, in southwest Finland, a 4,400 year old wooden stick carved into the exact shape of a snake has been discovered by a lakeside.
Archaeologists assume that the stick may have been used for mystical purposes by a shaman. Archaeologist Satu Koivisto is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Turku in Finland, who is leading the research at Järvensuo, the site where this snake-like figurine was found. According to Koivisto, this is one of the most extraordinary findings that he ever witnessed in his work life as a wetland archaeologist.
This snake-like figure is 21 inches (53 centimeters) long and about an inch (2.5cm) thick. The whole figure was carved out of a single piece of wood. Koivisto and Antti Lahelma, the co-author of this study who is also an archaeologist at the University of Helsinki, wrote in the published paper that the figurine is very naturalistic which resembles a European adder (Vipera berus) or a grass snake (Natrix natrix) in the act of swimming or slithering away.
This wooden figurine was found near the town of Järvensuo, about 75 miles northwest of Helsinki. Wood usually rots away when exposed to oxygen in the water or air, but sediments at the bottoms of the swamps cover some organic objects, and that perfectly preserved this figurine for thousands of years. According to the researchers, this site is thought to have been on the shores of a narrow lake when it was inhabited by a community in the late Stone Age. Koivisto mentioned that recent excavations had produced a trove of organic remains that have allowed archaeologists to create a more specific and complete record of this site and time. Other findings are included a wooden paddle, a wooden tool with a handle shaped like a bear head, and fishnet floats made of birch bark and pine.
How this finding is related to ancient shamanism
The researchers think that this snake-like wooden stick most likely belonged to a shaman for magical rituals, who communicated with spirits similar to the ‘Medicine people’ of traditional Native American lore. As a preliminary hypothesis, the researchers wrote that it seems reasonable to put this artifact in the religious sphere.
According to the pre-Christian beliefs, the historical records discuss that the snakes are full of symbolic meaning in both Sámi and Finno-Ugric cosmology. At that time, it was believed that shamans were able to transform into snakes. The Sámi live in Russia and northern Scandinavia, while Finno-Ugric languages are spoken in eastern Europe and Scandinavia.
It is assumed in the research that the ancient peoples of this region practiced such shamanism in which the natural world is inhabited by multitudes of generally unseen supernatural ghosts or spirits. This is a traditional belief in some parts of the remote northern regions of Scandinavia, Europe, and Asia.
Some ancient rock art from northern Russia and Finland shows human figures with, which look a lot like, snakes in their hands. These figures are thought to portray shamans wielding a magical staff of wood carved to look like snakes. Lahelma said that the snakes were viewed as especially sacred in these regions. She also mentioned that there seems to be a certain connection between people and snakes from the perception of the ancient people. This is very much similar to northern shamanism of the historical period, where snakes were regarded as a spirit-helper animal of the shamans. According to Lahelma, between this pre-historic Stone Age and the historical records, the time gap is immense, indicating the possibility of some kind of tantalizing continuity.
What experts say about this finding
The head of the archaeology department at the University of Oulu in Finland, Vesa-Pekka Herva, suggested that this marvelous find shows that people in the Neolithic had great concern over the subterranean world which people today maybe mostly unaware of.
A few other scholars raised an idea that this find could be an offering, and the fact that this artifact was found in a wetland by a lake, supports the idea that this precious find was an offering and not an accidentally lost item.
Kristiina Mannermaa, a professor in the department of cultures at the University of Helsinki, noted that Finland’s acidic soil usually does not preserve wooden artifacts for so long. And this is a remarkable sign for Finnish archaeologists that such wetland-like sites must be investigated properly before they are destroyed by drainage and peat extraction for fertilizer.
According to Francis Joy who is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Lapland, reminded that the discovery might be important for the current Sámi people, and suggested that if the finding was linked with the ancient ancestors of the Sámi, it would reveal issues concerning repatriation and also give the Sámi people validation in terms of their prehistory in southern Finland.
Koivisto concluded that Järvensuo and many other priceless archaeological sites are currently under threat from the drainage and climate crisis and that this heritage was is in urgent peril and suggested prompt action. She also indicated that organic treasures like this are no longer safe, particularly wetlands like this are vulnerable since they are adversely affected by climate change and peat extraction. Traditions of shamanism, and the findings of ancient rituals, connect humanity with their ancient history, regardless race, culture creed. Shamanic ritualistic items have been found all across the globe – which confirms a humanity which has been linked since time immemorial. Such ancient treasures teach humanity of a unified history.
- Chairkina, N.M. (2014). Anthropomorphic wooden figures from the Trans-Urals. Archaeology Ethnology & Anthropology of Eurasia, [online] Volume, 42, p. 81–89. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.aeae.2014.10.007 [Accessed 29th July 2021].
- Koivisto, S., & Lahelma, A. (2021). Between earth and water: A wooden snake figurine from the Neolithic site of Järvensuo 1. Antiquity, [online] Volume, 1, p. 1-7. Available at: https://doi.org/10.15184/aqy.2021.79 [Accessed 29th July 2021].
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