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ERIC Number: ED308021
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1988-Feb-20
Pages: 37
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
The Island That Moves: Shamanistic Practices and Psychic Posturing in One Naskapi Myth from Little Whale River.
Ballard, Charles G.
This paper analyzes religious, psychological, artistic, and environmental elements in one Naskapi myth, and provides a means of understanding the world of the Montagnais and Naskapi hunting tribes of the Labrador Peninsula. In "Ayas'i's Son," the (unnamed) hero is falsely accused of rape by his father's youngest wife. The son is exiled to an island, which the father, using his shamanistic powers, has blown further from the mainland. The hero escapes the island and survives a series of trials through the help of spirit creatures in animal forms. Returning to his village, the hero uses his new-found power to transform his father into a frog and his mother and himself into birds. The main theme of this myth is the self-sufficiency of the hero and his use of Nature's gifts to strengthen himself. Analysis suggests that a magico-religious outlook on the world is dominant. Cree, Lillooet, Eskimo, Blackfoot, Aleut, and Tsimshian variants illuminate other important issues: (1) the initiation of a shaman to the "vision quest;" (2) the roles played by women; and (3) animal and bird helpers as symbols of the shaman's power and connection to the spirit world. While both religious and worldly interpretations of these myths are possible, the unified view suggests that the universe has order, and that the wise or "blessed" man will align himself with this cosmic regularity. In the variants of the far north, particularly, relentless and formidable Nature is always present and capable of extinguishing life at any moment. This paper includes 17 references. (SV)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Opinion Papers; Creative Works
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Canada