Shaman’s Journey

Origin: North American Eskimo

Theme: Facing danger, maintaining commitment can help one survive.


There was a young Eskimo boy who lived in Greenland. He made a sledge. He had a mean mother. When she saw the sledge, she beat him with it. He decided then that he would become an angakoq or shaman.

The boy went to the mountain where there was a very large crack. This side of the mountain faced the sunrise. He put a stone over the crack and then put another stone on top of the first stone. He rubbed the upper stone round against the lower in the direction that the sun moves. He did this until he could barely move his arms. He heard a voice calling him from beneath the Earth. He didn’t understand the words, and he was terrified. He decided that he would no longer eat entrails, livers, and hearts of seals, nor would he work in iron.

He went back the next day and moved the stone over and over in a circle. He heard the voice again and felt a violent pain. He did the same thing the next day and this time the voice said, “Shall I come up?”

The boy said, “Yes, come up.”

A huge sea monster came and looked at the sunrise, and then went back down. This would be a spirit helper that the boy would work with when he was a shaman.

Winter came and the boy did not go to the crack in the mountain. But in spring the boy repeated rubbing the stones, and a little man came up. This was his second spirit helper. He could catch salmon for the boy. The boy fainted after he saw the little man. When he awoke, the man was gone.

The next spring the boy went to a little lake. Another little man came up and that was his third spirit.

The next year the boy went to the ocean and he threw a stone in the ocean. An enormous bear came out and ate him. He fainted and was dead. Then he came to. The boy had a bear and three spirits to help him when he grew up to be a shaman.

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