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OF THE MANNER IN WHICH MAN BY SUPERNATURAL ASSISTANCE CAN AVERT EVIL AND OBTAIN BENEFIT

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Certain agents or means are given to mankind by which they are enabled to avert impending misfortune and obtain prosperity, in a manner deviating from the ordinary laws of nature. These means are gained by aid of a knowledge the highest stage of which is called angakoonek. But an angakok being not only able himself directly to procure specially desired advantages, but also acting as the leading authority in all matters of religion, the angakoonek will be separately treated of hereafter. The fair and righteous means to which mankind in general may have recourse are thus to be considered as having their source in tornarsuk, with the angakut as mediators. Their general aim may be said to be the counteracting and defeating of witchcraft, at the same time serving to appease and influence the inue of nature, partly for the purpose of averting the danger p. 51 arising from these powers, especially that of being frightened to death, partly in order to obtain what may be desired. Moreover, they may be divided into two classes: first, the general religious means to be used by people in general for certain purposes or in certain cases; secondly, some peculiar faculties, which are possessed only by certain individuals. (1.) The General Religious Means. The general religious means may again be divided into three separate classes, the first consisting of words to be spoken—viz., prayer and invocation; the second, in the possession and application of certain material objects called amulets; and the third, of certain actions, such as the following out certain rules as to the mode of life, sacrifices, and different other observances for appeasing the ruling powers and defeating witchcraft. In the prayer or serranek, as far as we know, only the desired object is pronounced, without any direct mention being made of the fulfiller; whereas the invocation (ĸernaineĸ) is merely an appeal for aid to some special owner of power (ĸernarpâ, he invokes him). It is not known whether in any of these cases words of the pronouncer's own choice could be employed. The general custom, at all events, was to use distinct spells with peculiar tunes belonging to them. Such a prayer was called serrat (in the tales translated by spell, magic lay, or song), and might have reference to health, hunting, assistance against enemies or dangers—in short, whatever purpose might be desired within the limits of what was deemed right and proper. A serrat was supposed to have a power by itself, independent of the person who happened to know or make use of it. It was therefore considered an object of possession and barter; but it had also a deeper significance, in so far as a man in using it applied to a certain power, or had his thoughts fixed upon the fulfiller or the original giver of the spell, these persons p. 52 being generally identical—viz., the nearest deceased kindred of the user. The serrats were in some cases expressly directed to the invoker's ancestors, and are also known to have been the hereditary property of the same family. In the same way, invocations were generally addressed to the souls of the grandparents, and were principally employed as a preventive against being frightened to death. A serrat had to be originally acquired by a revelation to some individual who possessed a certain degree of angakok-wisdom, and in most cases they probably dated from very remote ages. The serranek was chiefly practised by old men, who, while performing it, partly uncovered the head. The amulets, or arnuat (plural of arnuaĸ), were small articles which either permanently belonged to the individual, and in this case were always carried about his person or worn on the body or inserted in his weapons, or were sometimes only acquired for certain special occurrences. The efficacy of an amulet depends firstly on the nature of the original thing or matter from whence it has been derived. To serve this purpose, certain animals or things which had belonged to or been in contact with certain persons or supernatural beings were chiefly chosen; and sometimes, but more rarely, also objects which merely by their appearance recalled the effect expected from the amulet, such as figures of various objects. Undoubtedly the original inua of the objects was believed to be still acting by means of them. Those in most esteem were objects pretended to have belonged to the ingnersuit and the inuarutligkat. Very precious amulets were got from the avingak, which in Labrador signifies a kind of weasel, but in Greenland a fabulous animal, and the application of which in a tale from both countries exhibits a most striking similarity. It is also said to serve the western Eskimo for amulets. Probably the choice and appreciation of things most useful and appropriate for amulets was p. 53 akin to their faith in different medicines, both kinds of knowledge being principally professed by old women, and was perhaps, like witchcraft, a remnant of the older religion which was tolerated by the angakut. Although the articles thus used had a power of their own because of their origin, they still required the application of a serrat, which was pronounced by him who gave the amulet to its final proprietor. If it was only to be used in particular cases, a special serrat was also required in order to make it work; and in some cases, when the owner happened not to have the amulet at hand, he might have recourse to invocation. Among the amulets probably we should also include what was called pôĸ, or bag, signifying the skin of some animal, enabling a man to acquire its shape. Amulets were ordinarily acquired from the parents during early childhood. It remains somewhat doubtful how to class the art of making artificial animals, which were sent out for the purpose of destroying enemies. In the tales we meet with bears and reindeers of this description; but most common is the belief in the tupilak, composed of various parts of different animals, and enabled to act in the shape of any of those animals which was wished. The tupilak differed from the amulet in being the work of its own user, and being secretly fashioned by himself. It therefore might seem to belong to witchcraft; but according to the opinion of the present Greenlanders, it is considered as having been a just and proper remedy, made by help of a serrat. It must always be remembered that its secret origin and traditional teaching, and not the immediate intention of it in every single case, constituted the evil of witchcraft. The serrat and arnuak might be used with a good intention, though at the same time pernicious to their immediate objects—viz., the enemies. On the other hand, they could certainly also be used with evil designs: and moreover, even angakoks were known to have practised witchcraft; p. 54 but all such cases were condemned by public opinion as evil abnormities and abuses. The rules concerning their mode of life were principally concerned with fasting and abstinence, but also included certain regulations as to clothing, out-of-door life, and daily occupations in general. They partly referred to the ordinary routine of daily life, particularly that of the wife, the child, and the mourners after death; partly to special or accidental occurrences, such as sickness. The powers worshipped through these observances appear to have been, besides the inerterrissok, the inue of the air, the moon, and other domains, supposed to influence the weather and the chase, and also the souls of the deceased. The lying-in woman was not allowed to work, nor to eat any flesh excepting from the produce of her husband's chase, and of which the entrails had not been wounded; but fish was allowed. Two weeks subsequent to her delivery she might eat flesh, but the bones of it were not to be carried outside the house. In the first child-birth they were not allowed to partake of the head or the liver. They were permitted neither to eat nor drink in the open air. They had their separate water-tubs; and if any one else should happen to drink out of these, what remained was thrown outside. The husbands likewise were not permitted to work or do any barter for some weeks. They also used to pull off one boot and put it beneath the dish they were eating, in order to make the son grow up a good hunter. During the first few days of the child's life no fire must be lighted at their stall, and nothing be cooked over their lamp. Bartering was likewise not customary where there was a person sick. Immediately after birth, a name was given to the child; and it was always a matter of great importance to have it called by the name of some deceased relation, one of the grandparents being generally preferred. But, on the other hand, names belonging to persons recently dead must not be pronounced, p. 55 for which reason a second name was generally given for daily use, and even this, for the same reason, was apt to be afterwards changed. The navel-string of the child must not be cut with a knife, but with a mussel-shell, if not bitten off, and was often used as an amulet. A urine-tub was held above the head of a woman in labour, in order to ward off all manner of evil influences. When the child was a year old, the mother licked it all over its body, in order to make it healthy. If any one happened to die in a house, everything belonging to the deceased was brought outside to avoid infecting the living. All the housemates likewise had to bring out their belongings, and take them in at night after they had been well aired. The persons who had assisted in carrying the corpse to the grave, for a time were considered to be infected, and had to abstain from taking part in certain occupations. All the kindred and housemates of the deceased for some time had also to abstain from certain kinds of food and occupation. During the time of mourning, the women had to abstain from washing themselves, and were not allowed in any way to make themselves smart or even dress their hair; and when going out they wore a peculiar dress. The bodies of those who died in a house were carried out through the window, or if in a tent, underneath the back part. According to an account from Labrador, a small child must not eat the entrails nor blubber kept in stomach-bladders, nor the flesh on the inner side of the ribs, nor the upper part of the shoulder-blade. At the birth of a child, some of the heart, lung, liver, intestine, and stomach was provided; and the child having been licked all over, the mother ate a dish of the mixture as a means of procuring health and long life to the baby. To the customs just enumerated may be added various regulations regarding the chase, especially that of the whale—this animal being easily scared away by various kinds of impurity or disorder. As to all kinds p. 56 of hunting, the belief was general that liberality in disposing of what had been taken secured future success. If a person who used to have ill-luck visited a successful hunter when an angakok was present, the latter used to cut a piece out of the liver of a seal caught by the lucky hunter and give it to the unlucky one, who chewed and swallowed it slowly. Sacrifices (mingulerterrineĸ or aitsuineĸ) were not much used. Besides the fox-flesh to the kungusotarissat, gifts were offered to the inue of certain rocks, capes, and ice-firths, principally when travelling and passing those places. Certain marks of homage were, moreover, observed towards the inue of various localities, such as abstaining from laughing, from pointing at them, &c.; The expelling, capturing, and destroying of evil and dangerous spirits was ordinarily incumbent upon the angakut. The traditions, however, mention similar operations as practised also by other people; and even in our own day, there are cases of this among the Christian inhabitants, such as shooting at tupilaks and umiarissat. Several fetid and stinking matters, such as old urine, are excellent means for keeping away all kinds of evil-intentioned spirits and ghosts. (2.) Men gifted with Special Endowments. The persons now to be spoken of belong to the class. we have already referred to as imáinaĸ ingitsut, or not of common kind—not like other people. They may be regarded as much the same as canny folk of the Scottish peasant, wise men or clairvoyants. Tarneerunek, the act of taking the soul out of the body, may be achieved either by external means, or by dreams or several states of the soul. When delivered in this way, especially by the power of the moon or by dreams, the soul is enabled to roam all over the universe, and return with news from thence. Pivdlingayak means a fool or "natural;" and pivdlerortok, p. 57 a mad or delirious person. By degrees as madness increases, disturbing the operation of the senses, and clouding the judgment and insight into things present, the absent or concealed things, and the events of the future, unfold themselves to the inner sight of the soul. A pivdlerortok was even gifted with a faculty of walking upon the water, besides the highest perfection in divining, but was at the same time greatly feared; whereas the pivdlingayak, being also clairvoyant, was esteemed a useful companion to the inhabitants of a hamlet. Piarkusiak was a child born after several others had died off at a tender age. It was considered specially proof against all kinds of death-bringing influences, especially witchcraft, and therefore employed in persecuting witches. A child like this was even more than ordinarily petted, and had all its wishes complied with. Agdlerutig(h)issak—viz., having been the cause of agdlerneĸ, or of certain rules of abstinence observed by the mother—was a child fostered in a manner similar to the angherdlartugsiak, and also considered to have a peculiar faculty for resisting witchcraft. Kiligtisiak was a man brought up by an angakok with the purpose of training him for a clairvoyant, which on the part of the angakok was performed by taking him on his knee during his conjurations. Kilaumassok and nerfalassok were people who, having failed in becoming angakok, had nevertheless acquired a faculty for detecting hidden things and causes. In cases of sickness, the head of the invalid was made fast by a thong to the end of a stick, and on lifting it up (ĸilauneĸ), the nature of the sickness was discovered.