Home > A journey into Inuit Traditional Knowledge > Cosmology and Shamanism > Qilaniq, Irinaluit, Qinngarniq and Aarnguat

Qilaniq, Irinaluit, Qinngarniq and Aarnguat

Quotation:
Johanasi Ujarak
That was just an example I was telling you to show how the person performing qilaniq asked questions of their helper. However, I do remember Arraq performing qilaniq. My father and mother had gone to Naujaat shortly after the ice had frozen. Quite a while had passed and they still hadn’t returned. Arraq began to get worried about them. Apparently, he thought that it was taking them too long to come back. One evening, when we had finished all our chores, he decided to perform qilaniq using his leg to determine whether they were alright or not. The family I was staying with consisted of Arraq, his wife, his mother Nattiq, my brother Nataaq and I. Arraq decided to ask a helper to find out if anything was the matter with Ava and his wife. He tied up one of his legs and waited for his helper, which he called his apiqsaq, to come. He said when his apisaq came to his leg it would become heavy. When it became heavy he started asking whether or not the travellers were in danger. His leg would become very light when he would ask if they were in danger. When he ascertained that they were not in danger, he asked it when they would return. When he found out they would be coming back soon, and that they were not in any danger, then he concluded his qilaniq. He asked numerous questions to ascertain this information. (Pages 135-136)
Presentation:
Chapter 6: Qilaniq, Irinaluit, Qinngarniq and Aarnguat

The divination ritual, or qilaniq, could be used to find the causes of a patient's illness or any other misfortune such as a poor hunting season. Anybody could practice this ritual, it was not just reserved for the angakkuit. As long as a person had a length of leather thong, they could quila. They could do this with a leg, a head, even a family member's socks, fashioned into the shape of a head. They were tied up and lifted, weighed. Ujurak said, "When his apisaq (helping spirit) came to his leg, it would become heavy. When it became heavy he started asking whether or not the travellers were in danger. His leg would become very light when he would ask if they were in danger." The lightness meant a negative answer- in this case, then, the travellers were safe. "Performing qilaniq was like talking through a radio to collect news (from remote areas)." Qilaniq was considered to be a more reliable source of information than makittarniq, making predictions using seal bones. An irinaiutit was chanted to right a wrong, to entice game animals for a better hunt, to help a sick child get up and dressed. Qinngarniq, shouted prayer, was used in more dire situations, and usually on untrodden snow. Anyone could qinngaq, even children. Aarnguat, or amulets, were given to children to get rid of their fears: they could be wooden figurines, or dried sea urchins, and they were often sewed into the linings of their clothing. Farting or blowing on something or someone had the power to drive away fear and sickness.