Inuit Shamanism and Christianity: Transitions and Transformations in the Twentieth Century

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  1. Communication Error Occurred.
  2. Inuit shamanism and Christianity: transitions and transformations in the twentieth century
  3. Opera in the Arctic: Knud Rasmussen, Inside and Outside Modernity

Inuit culture is rich in ritual and ceremony. The belief that all sea and land animals have soul makes killing an animal comparable to killing a person.


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The Inuit acknowledge the peril of a culture which exists on a diet that consists entirely of souls. Rituals are necessary to express gratitude for the souls of sea and land animals that have given their life to feed a people. The Sedna feast is not celebrated on an annual basis but only when bad weather or scarcity of game requires it because Sedna is not releasing the animals. The feast is celebrated when the camp is under pressure from hunger. Its purpose is to renew relations with Sedna.

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Traditionally, pregnant, menstruating and elderly women are excluded. In contemporary communities, Inuit who have converted to Christianity may exclude themselves. Some scholars interpret the ritual as appeasing, placating and propitiating Sedna Thursby, , p. There is a paucity of feminist ethnography on the experience from the perspective of female participants. Sila is a word with deep and complex meanings. It is often over-simplified as weather. It means wisdom of the dynamic spiritual forces which push and pull us through life. Jaypeetee Arnakak, Inuit philosopher, described sila as an ungendered entity that is both animated and sentient.

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Sila does not personify humans; humans are the personification of Sila. Silatuniq means the wisdom that gives people the practical knowledge for living on the land. Sila is an important word because it refers to dynamic change that occurs in a systemic way, like climate change. A scientist might call this a biosphere.

S ila cannot be reduced to TEK; it is Inuit Qaujimatuqangit IQ , a form of ecological intelligence that integrates both science and cosmology Hrynkow, , p. Leduc advocates intercultural dialogue between Western scientists and Inuit elders in order to awaken the Western imagination to a deeper sense of interconnectedness with nature and to develop an effective response to climate change not only in the Canadian North, but also in all cultures. The first birth of Sedna was as mortal daughter of human parents.

Her choice differentiated her from the person of her first birth and re-configured her relationship with the world. In her second incarnation, Sedna is Sea-Woman, origin of all sea animals. In this new space at the bottom of the Sea, she remains emotionally interdependent with her people, and continues to relate to them like intimate family — anger, revenge, love, tenderness, generosity, distress and other chaotic humanness.

This is the human condition — to live in families that drive us to frustration with their dysfunction, a frustration that is tolerable only because the primary bonds of love are strong beyond reasoning. Thus Sedna, as anirniq-angakkuq soul that is shaman intersects with the souls of all beings. According to Inuit nondualistic and organic cosmology, being human was not distinct from also being dog, bird, and sea-mammal.

Sheila Watt-Cloutier is a Canadian Inuit activist in her work as an academic, a politician and a filmmaker. She has been a political representative for Inuit at the regional, national and international levels, most recently as International Chair for Inuit Circumpolar Council. Your email address will not be published.

Notify me of new posts by email. Email address. Terra Mandala. Skip to content. What are the tipping points that could force runaway climate change? What is the sixth mass extinction event?

Inuit shamanism and Christianity: transitions and transformations in the twentieth century

Is climate change contributing to the mental health crisis? What is the link between climate change and mass migrations? What is the link between climate events and Dark Ages? What are some other human dimensions of climate change adaptation?

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