Inuit Sacred Animals and Shamanic Rituals:

Published: 03rd June 2010
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Inuit Sacred Animals and Shamanic Rituals:

The Inuit people see themselves as equals, and partners with the animals with which they dance through the cycle of life. All life and nature is considered sacred and to be upheld with the highest respect, however there are certain animals that the Inuit people worship in a much more spiritual way because the animals are believed to have certain divine power. Their grace and innocence makes them friends and family of the community. This is often why one will find animals within the shaman songs. They are believed to be pure gateways to the spirit world and constantly connected with the Great Sea Mother.

There is an intimacy between animal and hunter during the hunt; often the hunter will seek permission from an animal before hunting it. It is this interconnection and balance between spiritual and physical survival that creates what is called "the bond" during a hunt. Regulating the balance of the physical and spiritual realms is the task of the shaman, which is most likely the reason why shamans also make such great hunters.

Among the animals held so highly by the Inuit people are whales, reindeer, polar bears, and seals. Whales represent wisdom, and the sight of one often is a sign of good luck; reindeer are associate with the coming of rain, hence the name; Polar bears represent power, courage, and endurance; and seals represent intelligence and friendship, when a seal is killed it is said to leave it's body and not leave the physical realm until it creates a bond of friendship somewhere.

The connection between the drum and shaman songs is very powerful, especially for the Inuit shaman. The most powerful shaman songs are sung accompanied by a hand-made drum of drifter wood and sealskin. Inuit shaman often refer to their drums as reindeer, horse, or canoes; depending on the view of the drum at the time, the shaman uses is as a sort of vehicle to enter the spirit world.

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