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Mircea Eliade - Inuit beliefs of death

Identifier

010971

Type of spiritual experience

A description of the experience

Mircea Eliade – Shamanism Archaic techniques of ecstasy

The Eskimo usually distinguish three dwelling places for the dead – the sky, an underworld immediately below the earth’s surface, and another deep underground.  In the sky, as in the real underworld (the deep one), the dead lead a happy existence enjoying a life of pleasure and prosperity.  The only great difference from life on earth is that there the seasons are always the opposite of the seasons here; when it is winter here, it is summer in the sky and the underworld, and vice versa.  Only in the underworld directly beneath the earth’s surface, reserved for those who have been guilty of various violations of taboo and for unskillful hunters, do despair and famine reign.  The shamans have perfect knowledge of all these regions, and when a dead person, fearing to take the road to the beyond alone, abducts the soul of a living person, the angakok knows where to go to look for it.

The source of the experience

Inuit

Concepts and Symbols used in the text or image

Activities