Abkhaz by B. G. Hewitt

By B. G. Hewitt

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The Inuit observed important rules in their daily life to insure the well-being of the spirits. Many taboos, or bans, were associated with hunting and with caring for the bodies of dead animals. The Inuit conducted ceremonies and rituals to honor the spirits and observed important taboos to insure their good will. Taboos prohibited people from behaving in a way that would bring bad luck. For example, animal meat that had been taken on land could not be eaten or stored with meat that had been taken from the sea.

The family lived happily in the little house until one day, when the old man began to have visions. “This morning I saw a little man in our house,” he said to his wife and daughter. Arouk shrugged her shoulders and continued to cut up seal meat for the evening meal. Again the next morning, Arouk’s father saw the little man reaching up toward Arouk’s sealskin lamp to warm his tiny hands. But when the father got down from the sleeping platform, the little man was gone. “I am certain there was a little man standing here just a minute ago,” he said to Arouk.

Instead, they would have to wait until the end of the caribou season in fall. In addition, certain rituals had to be carried out prior to butchering an animal. 4 The Inuit world was filled with powerful spirits capable of vengeful and hostile acts toward people. But ordinary people could speak to the spirits and ask for help by using magical words. Magical words were kept very private and would lose their power if spoken in the presence of another person. People would also wear a magical charm, or amulet, in the form of a piece of fur sewn to clothing, or an animal tooth, claw, or bone worn as a necklace or on a belt.

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