The ritual drum or *runebomme, consists of a membrane of reindeer-calf skin stretched over an oval ring or wooden bowl with two or more oblong holes as handles. The basic design of the drum varies somewhat, but often the central figure on the *runebomme is a rhombus-shaped sun with four rays. The top figures are the ruling gods, while the bottom figures show the life of the Sami — their dwellings, reindeer, neighbours, and the birds and game of the forest. To the left of the central top figures, we find Sáivu, the ancestral mound where the dead lead lives of comfort. The gods, the humans and the deaths live their lives on different levels within a kind of sameness — the way they are pictured on the drum. This might be related to the fact that it was the task of the shaman to travel between the two worlds using his drum. The purpose of his journeys was to bring back information and guidance needed by the people when important decisions were to be made, or when sick souls needed advice from their ancestors. The shaman or noaidi had to have sufficient strength to carry out these journeys on behalf of the community, not in order to gain enlightenment himself, but to act as a messenger between the various lives and worlds. The shaman could also see into the future by putting his ear to the drum and listening to its "speech", or by following the movements of the árpa while he drummed with the hammer. The árpa is a plumb made either of brass or a carved piece of reindeer horn from an uncastrated male reindeer. Drumming had a practical use as well, in relation with hunting, trapping or reindeer herding, and it also functioned as a compass while moving the herd.

Sacrifices to the gods could be made beside large, protruding rocks, which were prominent in the landscape. Such rocks were called sieidi and are found all over Finnmark. Sacrifices could also be made in grottoes and mountain caves, on rocky outcrops, under mountaintops, or on the shore of a lake. It was common to give bones and horns of white reindeer as sacrificial gifts to the sun. Sometimes the whole reindeer was sacrificed. On special occasions, the God of Thunder had to be given an entire male reindeer, which was then buried in the earth so that nothing but its magnificent antlers could be seen. When making sacrifices to the other nature gods, people would come carrying bone and horn; they would rub the sieidi in fish fat or soak it in blood. The purpose was to honour the gods, and keep on good terms with them. People therefore took many precautions in order to protect themselves and their families and ensure good luck and happiness in life.

Ozzzy! - Drums of Death

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