A Nordic Blessing for Everyone

‹Sivdnidit› is a blessing of the Sami, the reindeer nomads of the European north in Norway. Their closeness to nature is now joining with Waldorf education at ‹the end of the world›.

The Sami (Lapps) of northern Norway have their own tradition of blessing. With the warmth of the campfire, they offer love and gratitude to the land and all its creatures – in reverence of the Triune God. Can we learn to deal with nature and with each other with such an inner attitude of blessing? For me, it’s about how to become more human on earth, to broaden the inner, deeper connection: with ourselves, with each other and with everything that lives and is.

Reindeer in the garden

Five years ago, I had the privilege of taking over the management of Tromsø Steinerbarnehagen, the northernmost Waldorf kindergarten in the world. Having been born in Oslo, it was for me, and is, a deeply heartfelt encounter with northern Norway, including the indigenous people: the Kven and Sami. Friendships were formed, and I was also recognised as one of their own. They have an eye for ancestral currents and that part in my blood was immediately apparent to them. It meant something to them. For three exciting years, there was also an offshoot in a small village on the Langfjord, among herds of reindeer and dog sledders, just before the North Cape. Admittedly, this is seen from the perspective of the south, because proportions are different in the Finnmark region – a stretch of land which is larger than Switzerland and inhabited by only 75,000 people and 185,000 reindeer.

Now a new project is taking shape: in the far north-east of Norway, on the longitude of Kiev and Alexandria, we have been allowed to take over the former administrative building on the island of Vardø. The respected judge and municipal leader Ingrid Fløtten Andresen had, until her sudden death in 2020, arranged an annual Michaelmas meeting here with representatives of the Norwegian state church, the Russian Orthodox community, the Christian Community and with anthroposophical speakers. We’re now renovating the building to keep it going as an international cultural centre – especially for encounters with Sami culture. It is the development of pedagogy through an inspired encounter between the nature-loving Sami culture and anthroposophy that has had the deepest impact on me. It is a pedagogy that incorporates the Sami understanding of nature and people.

The stable of the Kongsberg Steinerskole

At the other end of the country, as the new school principal of Kongsberg Steinerskole, I am involved in the development of an equally exciting project: Children and the Farm. Throughout my professional life, I have been interested in how we can strengthen the connection between children and nature, our connection to the earth and to life in general. Now, it feels like a gift to be able to help build a Waldorf school on a living farm, with a curriculum from kindergarten through all ages. We experience and celebrate the creative forces in nature and agriculture, thus building momentum for the social element. All of us together – children, teachers, and farmers – are forming the seed of an ecovillage; a well-known Norwegian architect has already submitted the plans.

Contrasts and Unity

In geographical reality, my two workplaces are almost 2,000 kilometres apart. Once they were worlds apart: farmers and nomads, Cain and Abel. Today, and in the reality of my heart, they belong close together, indeed they have merged into a common cause. As biodynamic farmers, we ourselves want to be a blessing for the earth. It’s not just about learning to work with the soil and animals or being out in the woods and fields; it’s about an inner attitude, a deeper connection to being human. Securely enveloped by life, I can give myself completely to play, to the essence of being human. This is where I find happiness, blessedness is here. Sivdnidit!

More Kongsberg Steinerskole, Steinerbarnehagen i Tromsø

Translation Christian von Arnim
Image Children at Langfjord. Pictures: Marianne Sevåg

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