Finnish paganism was a pagan religion in Finland and Karelia before the Finnish people were Christian. Finnish paganism is close to Scandinavian paganism and Baltic paganism. The Finns believed that there were many gods.
Finnish paganism was animistic. This means that they believed that nature was full of little and big spirits. The biggest spirits were Gods who had names, the God of the sky was Ukko, the God of the forest was Tapio and the God of water was Ahti. There were many other spirits that had names.
Humans had many souls. "Self" and "me" were two different souls. If one's "self"-soul left him, he was not dead, but very ill. A Shaman could go to the spirit world to bring the soul back.
The Bear was a holy animal to them, if bear was killed to make food, he or she was celebrated with a ritual called Peijainen. The purpose of the ritual was to make the soul of the bear happy. A happy soul of a bear wants to be reincarnated into another bear, so that people can eat bears in the future. The swan was a holy bird, they believed if you killed a swan you died.
Some trees and stones were holy to them, along with some forests. Close to holy places people made sacrifices. Sacrifice means that people gives a gift to a spirit. Sacrifices made the spirits happy. A happy spirit then wants to help humans. For example, a happy spirit can give lots of fish to a fisherman. At later times things that were given to spirits were small things like money, flowers, pieces of silver, alcohol or food.
The Finns believed that Earth was flat like a disc. Above Earth was sky-dome, a pot that was upside down. In the middle of the Earth was a pillar that held the sky making sky, so that it did not drop. The North star was a nail in the top of this pillar. Land of dead people, Tuonela, was under Earth. Way to Tuonela was at the base of pillar that holds the sky. There was a great whirl of water called Kinahmi.
People hoped that their dead relatives went to Tuonela, because people did not like ghosts. However some times dead relatives were asked to help living people. Sometimes shamans went to Tuonela to ask souls for help.