Inuit Shaman: Shaman Songs of the Far North

Published: 03rd June 2010
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Inuit Shaman: Shaman Songs of the Far North

The views and perspective of those in the deep north are guided by the powerful elements of nature in the area. Native shaman in the area have to deal with the harsh weather; one the other side they enjoy the beauty of the "Northern Lights," more commonly known as the Aurora Borealis. Shaman songs from this area constantly speak of the dance of light and darkness and the romance of the Sun and the Moon. Other things of nature that find their ways into the shaman songs of the Inuit include the stars, reindeer, the mystical narwhal, other whales, and the power of the polar bear. The role of the shaman in this culture is guided and shaped by the needs and experiences living intimately with this unforgiving kind of nature.

The Role of the Arctic Shaman:

The Arctic shaman, or Inuit shaman, has the unrivaled task of protecting the people from every kind of tragedy, catastrophe, and tribulation. These incidents can come about in a variety of ways. The mistreating of nature by the community, and evil spirits brings two of the most common about. The shaman travels to the spirit world through song, dance, and meditation to battle illness and disease, inspire a bountiful hunt, proposition favorable weather, and to please Great Sea Mother Goddess. Other threats the shaman must deal with come from within the community; not all shamans will access the spirit world for the good of others or even for a positive outcome in general. Evil, or "trickster" shaman do exist and they commonly create archetypes, natively known as "tupilag," of beasts and evil spirits. This "tupilag" manifest as the being the represent for the main purpose of harming others.

A common way for shaman to battle this kind of attack is through song. Most of the time shaman will receive visions of such an event and through the power of shaman songs they are able to send out their vibration in all directions either neutralizing the other shaman's spell or nullifying the evil nature of the "tupilag." Shaman songs are very useful and commonly believed by the Inuit people to be carried by the wind to wherever they are needed.

The Light:

One way shaman songs and the shaman themselves in the arctic differ from those anywhere else is their concept of "inner light." This concept is how these shaman connect to the spirit world, and often having this inner light is a matter of initiation for the shaman. This quality is referred to as "angukua" in most of the shaman songs. The shaman is called into initiation through this light, and they describe themselves as portals through which this brilliant light can shin einto the world. Shaman are not always chosen or even chose to become shaman, sometimes the prospective shaman is already an experienced hunter, or maybe even a simple orphan. In most traditions shaman are made, not born due to the family heritage. Once "the gift" manifests itself, the person is put through a year of training to become a shaman and they are often prohibited from doing many things that are thought to push away the spirits. Certain foods and activities, for example women are not allowed make clothing or cook.

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