Mircea Eliade - A Baffinland Eskimo shaman
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
Mircea Eliade – Shamanism Archaic techniques of ecstasy
To return to the Eskimo shamans; their ecstatic capacities enable them to undertake journey ‘in spirit’ to any region of the cosmos. They always take the precaution of having themselves bound with ropes, so that they will journey only ‘in spirit’; otherwise they would be carried into the sky and would vanish for good.
Thus a Baffinland Eskimo shaman was carried to the ‘moon’ by his helping spirit (in this case a bear); there he came to a house whose door, made of the jaw of a walrus, threatened to tear the intruder to pieces – the well known motif of the difficult entrance to which we shall return later. Having managed to enter the house, he then found the Man in the Moon and his Wife, the Sun. After many adventures he returned to earth and his body, which had remained inanimate during his ecstasy, showed signs of life. Finally the shaman freed himself from all the ropes that bound him and told to the audience all the incidents of the voyage.