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Tuurngait

Quotation:
Felix Pisuk
Helpful tuurngait can wake you up. I can’t explain this very well, unfortunately. Some tuurngait are able to wake you up. We didn’t have telephones, or two-way radios back then. The tuurngait were able to tell us through dreams where there was game. I talked about the little rainbows that I used to dream about. I’m not sure if it was Nagjuk or my grandmother who gave me this ability. I don’t have that dream any more because things are much easier today. We have powerful outboard motors and Hondas and Skidoos, so we don’t need to use some of the things that we used to. (Page 114)
Presentation:
In this chapter, our elders answer questions about tuurngait. First of all, they establish a distinction between the tarniq, the spirit or divine essence of the human being, the part that survives the death of the body, and the tuurngaq, the helping spirit of the angakkuit. Without their tuurngait, angakkuit are powerless. They draw their abilities from their tuurngait. These helpers can be anything: magical objects, animals or even the tarniit of dead people that have been lingering on Earth. The angakkuq performs the sakaniq ritual to call his tuurngait to him, but children who imitate the words and movements of sakaniq can also attract them by mistake. That is what happened to Agiaq around the age of five. His encounter with a tuurngaq terrorized him and left a whole side of his body paralyzed, until his grandfather, an angakkuq, came to his rescue.

Angakkuit wear qalugiujait on their belt, small items people have offered to their tuurngait. These hand-made objects are in relation with the tuurngait and the abilities of an angakkuq.

There are good and bad tuurngait. Tuurngait of the latter type become so after accomplishing bad deeds for their master. Angakkuit were able to send out tuurngait after people they did not like and wished to harm. The tuurngaq that attacked Agiaq was acting under the orders of an angakkuq who wanted to steal the young boy’s vitality in order to fight his own illness. Tuurngait were more active during the night than in daylight. Some would make people sick while they slept, but others were good and helpful.