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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 57.djvu/640

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

shaman discovers the tupilak he advises the people, who assemble, and prepare to free it of its burden. All the shamans go in search of it, each a knife in hand. As soon as they find it, they stab it with their knives, and thus cut off the transgressions. Then the tupilak becomes a soul again. The knives with which it was stabbed are seen by the people to be covered with blood.

The Central Eskimo believe that man has two souls. One of these stays with the body, and may enter temporarily the body of a child which is given the name of the departed. The other soul goes to one of the lands of the souls. Of these there are several. There are three heavens, one above another, of which the highest is the brightest and best. Those who die by violence go to the lowest heaven. Those who die by disease go to Sedna's house first, where they stay for a year. Sedna restores their souls to full health and then she sends them up to the second heaven. Those who die by drowning go to the third heaven. People who commit suicide go to a place in which it is always dark and where they go about with their tongues lolling. Women who have had premature births go to Sedna's abode and stay in the lowest world.

The other soul stays with the body. When a child has been named after the deceased, the soul enters its body and remains there for about four months. It is believed that its presence strengthens the child's soul, which is very light and apt to escape from the body. After leaving the body of the infant, the soul of the departed stays nearby, in order to re-enter its body in case of need. When a year has elapsed since the death of the person, his soul leaves the grave temporarily and goes hunting, but returns frequently to the grave. When the body has entirely decayed it may remain away for a long time.

Evidently the Eskimo also believe in the transmigration of souls. There is one tradition in which it is told how the soul of a woman passed through the bodies of a great many animals, until finally it was born again as an infant. In another story it is told how a hunter caught a fox in a trap and recognized in it the soul of his departed mother. In still another tale the soul of a woman, after her death, entered the body of a huge polar bear in order to avenge wrongs done to her during her lifetime.

Almost the sole object of the religious ceremonies of the Eskimo is to appease the wrath of Sedna, of the souls of animals, or of the souls of the dead, that have been offended by the transgressions of taboos. This is accomplished by the help of the guardian spirits of the angakut. The most important ceremony of the Eskimo is celebrated in the fall. At this time of the year the angakut, by the help of their guardian spirits, visit Sedna and induce her to visit the village, and they endeavor to free her of the transgressions that became attached to her during the preceding year. One angakok throws her with his harpoon, another