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Shamanic Performances and rituals

Mariano Aupilaarjuk
Not only angakkuit performed qilaniq. Anyone could do it. I think one of you could do this. This is not a sinful or an evil thing. We are not trying to make you do evil. I am not an angakkuq. I want to be very clear about this. This is just a demonstration. Please understand that I am not an angakkuq. I am a Christian. But I will show you an accurate demonstration of the qilaniq ritual. Through this demonstration I will try to show you something about Inuit culture. Since we are talking about shamanism, I want you to know that the qilaniq ritual was not only performed by angakkuit, but some angakkuit were very good at this. I will not actually perform qilaniq, but I will demonstrate how it was done. If I was really performing qilaniq I could find out things about you, even if you didn’t want these things disclosed. I will use the words that the angakkuit used. I will use the tuurngaq language in this demonstration. Those that were very good at performing this ritual could do it just using a small pebble. I am going to use a person. I myself have been used as an object by an angakkuq to perform this ritual. This ritual was performed by both angakkuit and non-angakkuit. I think one of you might be able to do this. This was not done frivolously. (Page 74-75)
Chapter 4: Shamanic Performances and rituals

The angakkuit still had to fish and hunt and care for their families, as well as devote much time to special requests from their families and the community. One common ritual was qilaniq, a divination ritual. It was a helpful ritual that could be performed by anyone and which involved a strip of leather and an object. The spirit would enter the object, making it lighter and heavier in answer to the questions asked. This ritual could be used, for example, to find the cause of a community's suffering. True shamanistic performances included sakaniq and tuurnginiq, and could be private or public. During a period of hunger, the shaman might stab himself to emulate the animals and draw them closer. Both Nutaraaluk and Aupilaarjuk underline the helpful aspects of shamanism. Great shamans could fly through the air to other communities, ilimmaqtuqtuq and journey up to the realm of the heavens, pavungaaqtuq and also descend into the underworld, nakkanniq. The angakkuit organized feasts and seasonal rituals, for the winter solstice, for example. They channeled bad feelings and thoughts in the community, helping people follow the path of the sun to avoid danger and illness.


Part II: Interviews from Iglulik, in 1972