For Atoruk, dancing is a way to tell stories for all occasions, weddings, funerals, birthdays, the subsistence lifestyles of people who live off the land as Noorvik residents do. Motions and songs represent the movements of fishing, ice hopping, even traveling by snowmobile. And as far as Atoruk is concerned, shamanism is an important part of his people's spiritual culture, not a satanic tool.
"I think we lost a lot of our history because the missionaries came," he said. "Now it's coming back."
But too many villages continue to cling to the oppressive legacy left by Western missionaries, according to Theresa Arevgaq John, a Yup'ik Eskimo and Native studies professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Indigenous people saw the destruction of their sacred traditions, including shamans, who were revered as spiritual leaders empowered by the creator with skills and tools to communicate with the spirit world to ensure the welfare of communities. Dancing had nothing to do with devil worship, John said.
"It was our only way of prayer," she said. "Can you imagine someone coming in and saying your way is wrong?"
I'm a woman, a Witch, a mother, a grandmother, an eco-feminist, a gardener, a reader, a writer, and a priestess of the Great Mother Earth. Hecate appears in the
Homeric Ode to Demeter, which tells of Hades who caught Persophone
"up reluctant on his golden car and bare her away lamenting. . . . But no one, either of the deathless gods or of mortal men, heard her voice, nor yet the olive-trees bearing rich fruit: only tenderhearted Hecate, bright-coiffed, the daughter of Persaeus, heard the girl from her cave . . . ."