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Inuit Religion and Mythology

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1 Inuit Religion and Mythology

2 Malina Malina is the Sun goddess of the Inuit people who live in Greenland. The word "Inuit" means "people." Its singular form is Inuk. The Athapascan speaking tribes of Alaska and Canada used to address the Inuit people with the offensive term of "Eskimo" which means "eaters of raw meat." Malina and her brother, the Moon god Anningan, lived together and used to play games. But once adults, things changed. One night, while they were playing in the dark (as they used to do when they were children), Anningan raped his sister. During the fight, a seal-oil lamp overturned, soiling Malina's hands with black grease. When Malina tried in vain to push Anningan away, she blackened his face with her dirty and greasy hands.

3 She ran as far as she could into the sky, where she became the Sun
She ran as far as she could into the sky, where she became the Sun. Anningan, showing no remorse for his crime, continued to chase his sister in the sky where he became the Moon. This eternal race makes the Sun alternate with the Moon in the sky. But occasionally, the Moon god reaches the Sun goddess and rapes her again, causing a solar eclipse. Anningan concentrates on his sister so much, that he often forgets to eat. So as the days go by, he gets thinner. Once a month, the Moon disappears for three days, so the Moon god can eat. He always returns to chase his sister again. This is how the Inuit people explained the phases of the Moon. Sun and Moon hate each other and human beings of the opposite sex. Thus, during a solar eclipse, men are not supposed to go out. On the other hand, women do not leave their houses during the lunar eclipse. The Sun goddess and the Moon god are noxious spirits that send diseases upon those who offend them.

4 Anningan Anningan is the name of the Moon god of some Inuit tribes that live in Greenland. The Inuit are inhabitants of Alaska, Greenland and the Arctic. The word Inuit means "people." Its singular form is Inuk. The Athapascan speaking tribes of Alaska and Canada used to address the Inuit people with the offensive term of "Eskimo" which means "eaters of raw meat." The Inuit people believe that once Anningan raped his sister, the Sun goddess Malina, and that he stubbornly continues to chase her in the sky. That is why the Sun and the Moon appear at different times in the sky. Anningan is so tenacious in his eternal pursuit of his sister that he neglects to eat. He becomes more and more thin until he is forced to come down to Earth and hunt for food. To satisfy his hunger, the Moon disappears from the sky for three days each month.

5 The Inuit believe that the Moon and the Sun hate each other and all members of the opposite sex. Occasionally, the moon-god reaches the sun-goddess and rapes her again, causing a solar eclipse. During a solar eclipse, men are supposed to remain at home if they do not want to become ill. Diseases are sent by Malina and Anningan upon those who offend them. Thus, during a lunar eclipse, women do not leave their homes. Moreover, when a man dies or a girl is born, the Inuit believe there is a ring around the Moon which expresses the grief of the moon god, Anningan. The sun goddess expresses happiness for the same events, appearing twice in parhelion. Parhelion is an illusion of two or more suns, caused by certain atmospheric conditions.


7 Sedna Sedna is the spirit of the sea according to the peoples of northern Canada and Greenland, named Inuit. Sedna resides at the bottom of the sea and has power over all animals. Her control of the sea, which the Inuit people depend on for their survival, gives Sedna an enormous power. Inuit people believe that success or failure in hunting depend on her unpredictable mood. Sedna was originally a young girl who stubbornly refused to marry anyone until her father forced her to marry a dog as a punishment. However, when Sedna became pregnant and gave birth to her children, Sedna's father felt sorry for her and drowned the dog. Sedna's children attempted to avenge in the death of their father unsuccessfully. Without her husband, Sedna was unable to support her children and herself. Thus, she abandoned her children and returned to live with her parents. One day, a bird disguised as a man sought Sedna in marriage. She accepted and went to live with him. But soon Sedna discovered that her new husband was not a man but a fulmar. When Sedna's father visited her, he convinced her to leave with him in his boat. But, the fulmar caught them, and created with his wings an enormous storm which threatened to overturn the boat where Sedna and her father were. Terrified, Sedna's father tried to throw the girl overboard to her husband, but she grasped the boat's side. In fear, the father cut off Sedna's fingers at the joints until she slipped into the sea, reaching its bottom. There she resides as the great Sea spirit with the seals and other sea animals that were created from her fingers. She lives with her first husband, the dog, and her father who was swept out to sea in his grief. In the underworld, Sedna's father represents the tormentor of humans who transgress against the rules of life. A large planetoid discovered in November 2003 has been named after Sedna. The planetoid orbits on the cold, outer fringe of our Solar System.


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