By Marguerite Jill Dye
Have you ever felt one with the universe, while gazing in awe at the twinkling stars? Have you communed with the trees and birds while hiking in the forests and woods? Have you felt inspired and empowered high up on a mountain you’ve climbed? Feeling connected to the natural world is vital to our being human.
We have another unseen dimension, as a spirit joined with our physical person. Ancient indigenous civilizations and peoples lived in harmony and balance as they honored and revered their inner spirits and precious Mother Earth. They were guided and healed by their own shamans and medicine people.
I was grateful to Sounds True for holding an online summit on shamanism with spiritual healers and leaders from around the world. It gave me a badly needed break from the chaotic and disturbing news of the day and took me on a heart and mind journey with practicing shamans from myriad cultures.
Angaangaq Angakkorsuaq, “The Man Who Looks Like His Uncle” (and also resembles Anthony Quinn), is an Eskimo-Kalaallit shaman, healer, and storyteller who shared his compelling wisdom in his people’s oral healing tradition. “The Top of the World,” the land of the Eskimo, is the biggest land on earth, and Angaangaq’s homeland, Greenland, is the largest non-continental island in the world. Once colonized by Norway, then Denmark, Greenland is now a self-ruled country within the Kingdom of Denmark. It is close to Mexico in size, but with the lowest population density on earth. It has a population 1/10 of Vermont’s, with only 60,000 people.
As the elder’s story unfolded, I imagined how it must feel to come from an island where your ancestors survived for over 5,000 years, but to know it is melting into the sea? How might it feel to see 10,000 rivers losing millions of liters of ancient glacial water each second? And how devastating would it be to know it’s too late to stop “The Big Ice” from melting?
This 70-year-old great shaman seared his story into my soul with his resonating chant and “Qilaut,” the powerful wind drum. I took notes as fast as I could, while under his heartfelt spell. I offer his message as clearly as I can, in the spirit of his drumbeat, slightly rearranged and compiled from his similar addresses.
In 1963 Angaangaq’s elders first warned of the melting of The Big Ice, once 5 kilometers thick and so large it would extend the distance from Norway to Tunisia or from North Dakota to Central America. He carried his message to the U.N. in 1978 and has spoken all over the world since then.
When Angaangaq returned home to Greenland, he was disheartened and sad. His beloved grandmother and teacher said, “You need to learn to melt the ice in the heart of man. Only then can man change and begin to use his knowledge wisely. … But for us, it’s too late. There is no way back anymore.”
Yet nothing has changed and Greenland continues to melt away, exposing the earth’s most ancient crust and foretelling mankind’s ominous future.
All the thoughts and prayers haven’t made up for the lack of a binding global agreement. The Big Ice is melting so quickly that people are unaware of its impact. Did you know that Greenland’s melting ice is, alone, raising the oceans one milliliter each year, according to NASA, encroaching on coastlines around the world and strengthening waves and storms? The rising waters and erosion will submerge low-lying and coastal cities and lands where most of the earth’s population lives.
Not even the wealthiest nation on the earth can afford a climate change disaster. At the Religions for the Earth Conference, held at New York’s Union Theological Seminary, Angaangaq said, “The greatest obstacle to climate change has been the U.S., opposing its significance. We believed the U.S. was a civilized nation with educated people, but it’s like a third world country, arguing, and not acting. … What have politics and business done to stop the melting of The Big Ice? With all of the discussion, they’ve never come to a binding agreement. And business? Money didn’t stop climate change. It only made it worse.
“We have failed as the custodians of Mother Earth. … Everyone prays but few work diligently to make the answer live. We must act upon our prayers. I pray to the Great One that somehow these beautiful people of the United States of America will be awakened to take on their spiritual responsibility for something called Mother Earth. … I pray that the young people will pick it up and do what needs to be done,” the Great Shaman said.
Marguerite Jill Dye is an artist and writer who divides her time between the Green Mountains of Vermont and Florida’s Gulf Coast.