Home > Winds of Change > Shamanism and Reintegrating Wrongdoers into the Community > Chapter 2

Chapter 2

Ollie Itinnuaq
« I, too, have seen it done. They would use qilaniq to help a person who was sick. They would ask questions and when the answer was no, the head would be very easy to lift. When the head would become heavy the answer was yes. That would be the head of the person who was qilajaujuq, the qilajaq. When the head is heavy, it is very hard to lift. Suvaksiuq mentioned that sometimes even two people are unable to lift the object being used as the qilajaujuq. When it becomes uqumangiqtuq, it is not possible to lift at all. Earlier we talked about qaumaniq. When the qillati being used is approached by a tuurngaq it either becomes heavy or light. That’s what we were told. Tuurngait are not like people. They tend to be squeamish very easily. Therefore, if you were getting ready to qila, you had to be very aware of them, because they did not want to come close if you were not really prepared. Although someone has the ability to qilajuq, if they are not really prepared, they will not be successful. » (Page 86)

Now that the elders have all related their experiences and expressed their views on angakkuuniq, the facilitators of the workshop open the discussion on the value of angakkuuniq and old traditions at large. They considier how these old traditions relate to modern social problems, especially those affecting young people.
In this second chapter, the facilitators invite the elders to discuss various aspects and notions of angakkuuniq. Even though all the elders have stated they are not angakkuit themselves, they have all seen angakkuit perform various rituals and they share their memories here.
Shamanistic initiation is the first topic on the agenda. We learn that some of the elders almost became angakkuit in their youth, either by choice or not. The next topic is the qaumaniq, the vital energy of human beings that angakkuit perceive as a bright aura around people. Knowledge and views vary on this topic, whereas a stronger consensus is achieved on the notion of tarniq. From the qaumaniq, we move on to the qilaniq, the healing ritual through which angakkuit and non-angakkuit asked questions to the spirits in order to find out the cause of an illness.
A number of other topics are more briefly discussed: earth eggs (eggs found half-buried in the ground and said to possess special powers); healing methods (other than qilaniq) that were in use before there were health-care services, such as irinaliutit (incantations) and the sakaniq, a ritual by which the tuurngaq (spirit helper) of the angakkuq enters their body; how angakkuit could procure game in periods of famine; the importance of dreams; and the use of aarnguat (amulets).