History of Afterlife in Different Religions Eskimo

About the views on life after death and the afterlife and history of the beliefs in the Eskimo religion.

THE AFTERLIFE IN DIFFERENT RELIGIONS

ESKIMO

HEAVEN AND HELL

by Nalungiaq

And when we die at last,

we really know very little about what happens then.

But people who dream

have often seen the dead appear to them

just as they were in life.

Therefore we believe life does not end here on earth.

We have heard of three places where men go after death:

There is the Land of the Sky, a good place

where there is no sorrow and fear.

There have been wise men who went there

and came back to tell us about it:

They saw people playing ball, happy people

who did nothing but laugh and amuse themselves.

What we see from down here in the form of stars

are the lighted windows of the villages of the dead

in the Land of the Sky.

Then there are other worlds of the dead underground:

Way down deep is a place just like here

except on earth you starve

and down there they live in plenty.

The caribou graze in great herds

and there are endless plains

with juicy berries that are nice to eat.

Down there too, everything

is happiness and fun for the dead.

But there is another place, the Land of the Miserable,

right under the surface of the earth we walk on.

There go all the lazy men who were poor hunters,

and all women who refused to be tattooed,

not caring to suffer a little to become beautiful.

They had no life in them when they lived

so now after death they must squat on their haunches

with hanging heads, bad-tempered and silent,

and live in hunger and idleness

because they wasted their lives.

Only when a butterfly comes flying by

do they lift their heads

(as young birds open pink mouths uselessly after a gnat)

and when they snap at it, a puff of dust

comes out of their dry throats.

SOURCE: Songs and Stories of the Netsilik Eskimos, translated by Edward Field from texts collected by Knud Rasmussen, courtesy Education Development Center, Newton, Mass.

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