Lagakin Religion


         Lagakin tribes have a common root mythology, but they vary greatly in religious practice. Their aboriginal mythology holds that there is a single Great Spirit, known by various names. However, that great spirit is often only vaguely pictured. The hero Glooscap, the Great Hare, and other manitou are much more colorful figures who appear in stories and rituals.

         Most of the local tribes have now accepted Vinlander Christianity in some form, although the nature of their belief varies widely. In general, they have not abandoned their earlier beliefs, but add in a recognition of the sons of the Great Spirit: Christ and Thor. Common features of adoption include:

However, much has not changed. The traditional roles of chief and shaman are essentially the same. Chiefs are the official spiritual leaders, while shamans are advisors and healers.

         The outstanding difference between Vinlander and Lagakin religion is this. The Vinlanders have a written tradition which is more exacting including the written Bible, Law, and the runes. The Lagakin have a much greater sensitivity to the Spirit World. While the Vinlanders acknowledge the existance of manitou (known to them by other names), the Lagakin are much more attuned to their ways.

         The contact with the spirit world is expressed in numerous common rituals. Further, many adolescent males take a vision quest to receive contact from a particular totem spirit. This harsh ritual is not required, but is neccessary for any sort of leadership role within the tribe and is very common. The details of the quest vary: usually it involves several of starvation, hallucinogenic herbs, and exposure in the deep wilderness. The vision quest brings the child into contact with the totem spirit of his clan. This spirit will provide him with advice and spiritual protection from then on.

         There are other ways of contact with the spirit world as well.

         The Lagakin believe in physical monsters as well. The two main ones are the Wendigo and the horned serpents. The Wendigo is a spirit in some sense, but it possesses a human and slowly transforms it into a horrible cannibalistic monster. This is recognized as a Troll by the Vinlanders. Horned serpents are the most common of monsters who dwell in lairs deep under rivers.




         Glooscap was a giant who came from across the sea in a granite canoe. Some said that when Glooscap reached land long ago, there were no people there to greet him, so he drew his great bow and split open the ash trees, and the first humans stepped from the bark. Glooscap did all he could to make their world a more inviting place. To free the streams and reviers, he slew a froglike monster who was hoarding the waters in its swollen belly. To quiet the gusts that stirred up storm waves and bent the treetops, he captured the mighty Wind Eagle and bound it so tightly that a stifling calm descended. Recognizing his error, Glooscap loosened the Wind Eagle's wings, and cool breezes wafted across the land.

         To give people plenty to feast on, Glooscap decided to fill the forests with animals. A towering figure himself, he made the first creatures so large that they dwarfed the humans. The Moose, for instance, stood as high as the tallest pine tree. Concerned for his people, Glooscap asked the Moose what he would do if he saw a man coming. The Moose vowed that he would bring trees crashing down on the intruder, so Glooscap made the animal smaller to ensure that he would be the one to fall when hunters came stalking. Next Glooscap asked the ferocious White Bear what he would do if he met with a man. "Eat him," replied the animal gruffly; so Glooscap sent him to live among the rocks and ice, where he could do people no harm. In this manner, Glooscap questioned all the animals and, after hearing their answers, changed their size or habitat accordingly. Thereafter, when creatures of the forest saw a man approaching, they turned and ran.

         Glooscap taught people how to track and snare those skittish animals and where to find wild vegetables and herbs for food and medicine. He showed them how to build houses and canoes and kindle fires. He taught them the names of all the stars that blazed in the heavens. When he had made the world fit for humans, Glooscap left them and went to dwell in the depths of the forest with his grandmother. "I go away now," he said to the people, "but I shall return. When you feel the ground tremble, then know it is I."

The Great Hare



John H. Kim <jhkim-at-darkshire-dot-net>
Last modified: Tue Aug 14 11:51:51 2001