Part of the difficulty in understanding this mythology is that the original oral sources told their stories in eleven different languages with numerous dialects and their accounts were written down in Latin, Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish or Danish, in archaic or later, modern forms which, because I speak none of the above, have then been re-translated into English at some point.
Ever played “Chinese Whispers” ?
As result, a single mythological entity can end up with a staggering list of names, variations of those names and different phonetic spellings of those names or variations. Aaaaaaaargh....
Then the stories themselves... In one version the hero gets the girl. In another version he doesn't get the girl. Sometimes he gets a completely different girl. But, maybe it's just another name for the same girl?... On the other hand maybe it isn't? Trying to fit these differing narratives together is like trying to put together a skip full of pieces from hundreds of different jigsaws. To top it off, most of the jigsaws are incomplete anyway.
I've just come across a quote from a man called Johannes Schefferus who wrote a Latin account of the Sámi in 1673. The first systematic attempt to do so.
He says this: (Translated of course.)
“At first, there is no doubt that they were pagans, as all Nations were, but being all Pagans were not of the same religion.”
€ť So not only do I have the many linguistic variations to contend with, it would seem that the core beliefs that I have been searching for, are in fact many different beliefs. I had hoped to distil these disparate and varying sources into some essential coherent narrative but it would seem that coherence was never really there in the first place.
No wonder I feel like Sisyphus rolling his boulder up a hill, only to have it roll down again when I think I've reached the top.