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Photo Father Trinell with group of Inuit children

 

Shamanism

Quotation:
Victor Tungilik
My father used to tell me that because he loved me very much, I was going to die shortly after him. I remembered these words of his. Whenever I remembered these words I would think, if he really, truly loved me, he would try to add to my life after he died. He would look after me because he was no longer of the flesh. Instead, his tuurngait came to me. Maybe because my father loved me, he had his tuurngait come to me. I started thinking about this afterwards. He was a Christian and he prayed, and was answered by God. And, yet, he was an angakkuq also. For most of them, it was not possible to be a Christian and an angakkuq at the same time. I often wonder if this was not really the way it was supposed to be. Although my father was an angakkuq, he did not let go of his tuurngait. When he needed to, he prayed to God and he was given what he wanted. He was able to be both a Christian and an angakkuq at the same time. I understood this to be possible because of my father. I was not like him even though he was my father. I was afraid to try and remain an angakkuq. Therefore I sent my tuurngait away. I wasn’t able to be like my father.

The Transition to Christianity, Chapter 3, p. 112.
Presentation:
Shamanism

Chapter three presents Victor's knowledge of shamanism. Victor knows about angakkuit firsthand, as he himself was an angakkuq. He recalls how it happened while he was still young: the tuurngait of his father came to him after his death. Victor describes how he and other angakkuit would use their power to heal people. The healing process consisted of discovering the reason why people got sick and helping them with your tuurngait. Victor explains how the angakkuq could be possessed by his tuurngait when he sang particular songs. When Inuit were travelling and somebody in the group got sick, the tuurngait sometimes demanded that people stay in one place and stop a particular activity for a few days.

Victor remembers what his tuurngait needed and wanted. He was helped by various tuurngait and describes several of them. Victor recalls and quotes words that the angakkuit would use, for example to talk with their tuurngait. He explains how he got to understand and learn this language.

There were different kind of angakkuit:  each had different abilities, was more or less powerful, and could also be evil. Victor explains why he decided to stop using his powers by sending his tuurngait away. He talks about crucial moments in his life after becoming a Christian when he used instead the power of prayer.