Home > A journey into Inuit Traditional Knowledge > Cosmology and Shamanism > Encounters with Inurajait: Human-like beings

Encounters with Inurajait: Human-like beings

Mariano Aupilaarjuk
I have seen an ijiraq. I once saw a pangniq, a bull caribou that looked really different. The antlers were very different, really bent down low. I saw this quite recently with my son. I didn’t want to see this because I am a Christian, but this being was showing itself to us. I could see it through my binoculars. If it had been a real caribou it would have been thick, but it was very thin, even though it had the form of a caribou. The difference between this caribou and other caribou was that it looked around while it was eating without lifting up its head. You could tell it was very scared. From what I had heard, I believed this to be an ijiraq. Ijirait can look like caribou. These ijirait that look like caribou were humans that turned into ijirait after they died. This is what I believe I saw.
Chapter 3: Encounters with Inurajait: Human-like beings

 It is fairly common to have an encounter with, or to almost encounter, spirit beings such as inurajait, human-like spirits; and uumajuit, animal-like spirits. Such meetings hold great portent. Nutaraaluk speaks of special conditions for seeing such beings, signs such as haziness of vision, or fog, "like a mirage." He thinks that he had this experience because he was worried about something in particular. The inurajait were inclined to be kind, and eager to make contact with humans. Animal-like spirits, uumajuit, were more ambivalent and could become aggressive. The ijirait were once dead people, now invisible spirit beings. They wear clothing and use the same technology as the living; they exist in a parallel reality and are not particularly dangerous. One should not spend too much time in contact with an ijiraq, however, and take care not to anger them. Aupilaarjuk speaks of two ways to protect oneself from the ijiraq: in Nattilik, a tattoo between the eyes could ward them off; and coastal Inuit would try to fool them by pretending to be incredibly strong. Having a relationship with the inurajait or other tuurngait was most dangerous. If you had sex with a spirit, your life would become unsatisfying; you would shorten your life. It is a very evil thing, with severe consequences. It would even affect your appearance. If you don't talk about it, it will eventually kill you.