#10 The Moon Spirit
     (Knud Rasmussen, 1921-24)

The Moon Spirit, Aningâp or Tarqip inua, lives with his sister Seqineq in a double house (a house with two apartments but one common entrance) up in the land of the dead in the sky, the same which is called Udlormiut or the Land of Day. Human beings who perish by drowning in the sea or in a lake, go to dwell with the moon; so also those who are killed by their fellows openly or unawares, those who take their own lives out of weariness or because they are old, and finally, all women dying in childbirth. Human beings going up into the sky enter at once into the eternal hunting grounds, and do not have to purify their minds by a year of penance, as with those who go down to the Sea Spirit. All are loth to go down to her for fear of the ill treatment meted out to them by her father Isarrataitsoq. A few of the greater shamans can also procure special admission to the Moon Spirit for the dead; this can be done in various ways, e.g. by means of amulets. It is said that the molars of a bear, consecrated by the prayers of a great shaman, are particularly effective in this direction.

The Moon Spirit is one of the great regulating powers of the universe which is not feared. Knowing the view of the East Greenlanders, who regard the Moon Spirit as the most terrible of the punitive deities watching over the deeds of men, I enquired particularly about this point, but was everywhere informed that no one feared the Moon Spirit, only the Sea Spirit was to be feared, and especially her father. The Moon Spirit, on the other hand, is the only good and well-intentioned spirit known, and when he does intervene, it is often more for guidance than for punishment.

People in danger can often hear him calling out:
“Come, come to me! It is not painful to die. It is only a brief moment of dizziness. It does not hurt to kill yourself.”

Thus the moon sometimes calls, and it is thus also regarded more particularly as the protector of those perishing by accident or suicide…

[#10] Knud Rasmussen, Intellectual Culture of the Iglulik Eskimos (Report of the Fifth Thule Expedition 1921-24) (Copenhagen: Gyldendalske Boghandel, Nordisk Forlag, 1929): 73-74.

1 Comment

Filed under Arctic, Arctic Cultures

One Response to IGLULIK ESKIMO

#10 The Moon Spirit
     (Knud Rasmussen, 1921-24)

  1. Pingback: ARCTIC INDIGENOUS CULTURES(documented 1840-1940) | The Ethics of Suicide Digital Archive

Leave a Reply