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Kunigseq






Source: Eskimo Folktales

There was once a wizard whose name was Kunigseq.

One day, when he was about to call on his helping spirits and make a
flight down into the underworld, he gave orders that the floor should
be swilled with salt water, to take off the evil smell which might
otherwise frighten his helping spirits away.

Then he began to call upon his helping spirits, and without moving
his body, began to pass downward through the floor.

And down he went. On his way he came to a reef, which was covered with
weed, and therefore so slippery that none could pass that way. And
as he could not pass, his helping spirit lay down beside him, and by
placing his foot upon the spirit, he was able to pass.

And on he went, and came to a great slope covered with heather. Far
down in the underworld, men say, the land is level, and the hills are
small; there is sun down there, and the sky is also like that which
we see from the earth.

Suddenly he heard one crying: "Here comes Kunigseq."

By the side of a little river he saw some children looking for
greyfish.

And before he had reached the houses of men, he met his mother, who
had gone out to gather berries. When he came up to her, she tried
again and again to kiss him, but his helping spirit thrust her aside.

"He is only here on a visit," said the spirit.

Then she offered him some berries, and these he was about to put in
his mouth, when the spirit said:

"If you eat of them, you will never return."

A little after, he caught sight of his dead brother, and then his
mother said:

"Why do you wish to return to earth again? Your kin are here. And
look down on the sea-shore; see the great stores of dried meat. Many
seal are caught here, and it is a good place to be; there is no snow,
and a beautiful open sea."

The sea lay smooth, without the slightest wind. Two kayaks were
rowing towards land. Now and again they threw their bird darts,
and they could be heard to laugh.

"I will come again when I die," said Kunigseq.

Some kayaks lay drying on a little island; they were those of men
who had just lost their lives when out in their kayaks.

And it is told that the people of the underworld said to Kunigseq:

"When you return to earth, send us some ice, for we thirst for cold
water down here."

After that, Kunigseq went back to earth, but it is said that his son
fell sick soon afterwards, and died. And then Kunigseq did not care to
live any longer, having seen what it was like in the underworld. So he
rowed out in his kayak, and caught a guillemot, and a little after,
he caught a raven, and having eaten these one after the other, he
died. And then they threw him out into the sea.





Next: The Woman Who Had A Bear As A Foster-son

Previous: Qujavarssuk



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