Sacred-Texts Native American Inuit
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91. THE MOON.—Several stories are told about people travelling to the moon. The following are specimens of these myths.

Kanak, on fleeing from mankind, felt himself lifted up from the ground, and following the way of the dead. At length he lost his senses, and on awakening again found himself in front of the house where the spirit (or owner) of the moon resided. This man of the moon assisted him to get inside, which was a perilous undertaking, the entrance being very large, and guarded by a terrible dog. The moon-man having then breathed upon Kanak in order to ease the pain that racked his limbs, and having restored him to health, spoke thus: "By the way thou camest no man ever returned; this is the way thou must take,"—upon which he opened a door, and pointed out to him a hole in the floor, from which he could overlook the surface of the earth, with all the dwelling-places of man. He regaled him with eating, which was served and brought in by a woman, whose back was like that of a skeleton. Kanak was getting afraid on perceiving that, on which the moon-man said, "Why, that's nothing; but lo! soon the old p. 441 woman will appear who takes out the entrails of every one she can tempt to laugh. If thou canst not withhold thy smiles, thou only needst to rub thy leg underneath the knee with the nail of thy little finger." Soon after the old hag entered dancing and whirling about, licking her own back, and putting on the most ridiculous gestures; but when Kanak rubbed his leg with the nail of his little finger, she gave a sudden start, at which the moon-man seized her, and threw her down in the entrance. She went off, but afterwards a voice was heard, "She has left her knife and her platter, and if she does not get both, she says she will overthrow the pillars of heaven." The moon-man having thrown the knife and platter down the entrance, again opened the hatch in the floor, and blowing through a great pipe, he showed Kanak how he made it snow upon the earth. Lastly, he said to him, "Now it is time to leave me, but do not be the least afraid, lest thou never shalt come alive." He then pushed him down through the opening, on which Kanak swooned; and on recovering, he heard the voice of his grandmother, whose spirit had followed and taken care of him; and at length he reached the earth's surface, arose and went to his home, after which he grew a celebrated angakok.


A Barren Wife, who was treated badly by her husband, went off one winter night and met with the moon-man, who came driving in his sledge, and took her along with him to his home. Many days after in spring, she again appeared, and went to live with her husband. Ere long she perceived that she was with child, and gave birth to a son, who when he grew up was taken away by the moon-man.


Manguarak, unheeding the warnings of his father, caught a white whale which, having a black spot on one side, was known to belong to the animals of chase p. 442 set apart for the spirit of the moon. On a fine winter night the moon-man was heard to call him outside and challenge him to fight. When he came down upon the ice, the moon-man said, "Well, we will presently begin, but first let us name all the animals of chase we have caught during our lifetime." They then, each in his turn, named the different sorts of birds, seals, and whales they had chased; and beginning with the fishes, Manguarak went on to tell how he once assisted at a halibut-fishing, when they happened to haul up a ĸêraĸ (Anarrichas lupus). On hearing this, the moon-man exclaimed, "What art thou saying, man? Now just wait, and listen to me." He then went on to tell how, when a child, and still living among mankind, he had once seen some people haul up a fish of that same kind, at which he was so terrified that he had never since tried to catch that fish. "And now," he continued, "that I know thou hast caught an animal which I never ventured to pursue, I will do thee no harm. I begin, in fact, rather to like thee; so come along with me and see my place." Manguarak accordingly went up to ask his father's permission, which having gained, he returned to the ice, where he found the moon-man waiting with a sledge drawn only by a single dog. When he had taken his place on the sledge, away they drove at a great pace, and gradually rising from the ground, they seemed to fly through the air. At midnight they came to a high land, upon which they still travelled on. They went through a valley covered with snow, and had to pass by a dark-looking cliff, inside of which lived the old hag who was wont to cut out the entrails of people who could not forbear laughing. As to the rest of the adventures of Manguarak, they are much the same as those encountered by Kanak.