Home > A journey into Inuit Traditional Knowledge > Cosmology and Shamanism > The Healing of Nanuraq, a sick woman, by Angutimmarik, in Salliq

The Healing of Nanuraq, a sick woman, by Angutimmarik, in Salliq

The angakkuq called on his tuurngaq in the evenings because of the hard life they had in those days. In the times when there were angakkuit life was different. They were required to pittaili, even for things that didn’t seem important. I had inner caribou pants made from a caribou shot in the Tasiujaq area on the mainland. When we went hunting in the Uqquat area I still had those pants. I didn’t have any other ones. Arraq and I shot some caribou. We ate the bone marrow in order to lighten our load. Everytime Arraq and I ate caribou marrow I had to remove my inner pants before I could eat the marrow. (Page 107)
Chapter 5: The Healing of Nanuraq, a sick woman, by Angutimmarik, in Salliq

This chapter describes a group healing séance presided over by Angutimmarik, a powerful shaman with a dog for a tuurngaq. The séance took place in January 1923, and was recorded by Jacob Olsen, a Greenlander and an Inuk. He was a member of Knud Rasmussen's Fifth Thule Expedition. On Salliq Island at that time, more than half the male population were shamans of varying degrees of ability-in all, there were 17 male and 4 female shamans. Fifty years later, D'Anglure was lucky enough to contact Inuit who were close to people who had been present at the séance.

 The patient, a woman named Nanuraq, was lain upon a bench, and all of the inhabitants of the village were present. Angutimmarik paced back and forth, swinging his arms, sighing and breathing heavily to demonstrate that he was making a great effort to find the cause of the woman's illness. He asked his tuurngaq questions, and he continued to move about as he followed the tracks of the source of her sickness. As a community leader, he often worded his questions as if he blamed himself. He also said that he could see the problem, or a person, but not clearly, or only from a distance. He did this to be sure to describe the situation correctly. With the help of the community, he deduced that she had performed a series of forbidden acts, ranging from combing her hair or picking moss when it was forbidden, to hiding a miscarriage and sleeping with men other than her husband while she was menstruating. The patient's answers were ritualistic. After each admission of her wrongdoings, the community said "Tauva!" together, and asked collectively for her to be forgiven. Iqallijuq says that Nanuraq recovered after the ritual. When an angakkuq was dealing with the wrongdoings of an individual, if the person made a full confession, they would live longer.