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The Lake Spirit
Artwork: Qiviuq Episode with the Spirit of the Lake, by Victoria Mamnguqsualuk Kayuruk

Qiviuq Episode with the Spirit of the Lake, by Victoria Mamnguqsualuk Kayuruk

As told by Bernadette Angmalluq Uttaq

Translated by Louise Anaija
After the death of his father, Kiviuq moved to another camp with his wives. While Kiviuq was on a hunting trip, his wives would leave the camp. He began coming home to an empty camp, so one day he pretended to go on another hunting trip. Soon after disappearing in the distance, he hid behind a small hill and started watching his wives’ actions.

Upon his disappearance, his wives walked up to a small lake, which was out of sight from their camp. The two undressed and jumped into the lake yelling, “Big penis, big penis, show yourself by here!” He watched as his wives each had intercourse with a large penis, sticking out of the water.
He waited for them to finish, then came home after the two had fallen asleep.

The next morning, while his wives were still asleep, he crept up to the lake, took his top off but kept his pants on and waded into the lake.

“Big penis, big penis, show yourself by here” he yelled! A large penis instantly stuck out of the water. He took the penis with one arm and killed it with his other hand, possibly using a knife, with a chopping motion.

Knowing that his wives would soon be arriving at the lake, he took the penis with him and made his way back to the camp without letting them notice him. Once his wives left for the lake, he cooked the penis and waited for the arrival of his wives.

As he had anticipated, they arrived back at the camp. He then fed them the penis that he had cooked earlier. The first wife asked, “What is this meat, it tastes kind of hard and yet very good?”

“It is the penis of your lover!” Instantly, the wives began to cry.

To punish his cheating wives, Kiviuq gathered some live maggots and placed them on a platform for his first wife to sit on. He may have used fire to burn the other.

He asked each wife, “Which are you more afraid of, maggots or fire?”

He killed the wife that was afraid of fire, by burning her or perhaps by using a sharp object, I cannot remember which. And the other by letting her sit on live maggots, causing them to enter her body and devour her insides, killing her.

The same story told by Elizabeth Karlik
After living in a particular area, Kiviuq, who had two wives, moved with them to another camp. He continued to hunt and provide for his family.

He would hunt for caribou and take his catch home for his wives to prepare and cook. This went on for a while.

The wives developed a pattern of gathering firewood then falling asleep. He soon started coming home to find them sleeping. This aroused his curiousity so he began to spy on them.

After gathering firewood, his wives went to a small lake and when they reached the edge of the lake, they gathered some stones in the flap of their amauti and threw them into the lake. They continued to throw the stones into the empty lake, calling “Big penis, big penis, show yourself!”

A large penis shot out of the water causing the two women to giggle with glee. The first woman removed her pants and waded into the water, then began romping on the penis, satisfying herself. Once she was done, she went back onto the shore. The second wife also did the same thing.

Once their sexual escapade was done, the women gathered their firewood and returned to their tent to sleep. Later on Kiviuq pretended to come home from hunting.

Bright and early the next morning, while his wives were still asleep, Kiviuq left for the lake. His wives’ actions angered him so much that he sought revenge. He gathered stones then threw them into the water, calling “Big penis, big penis show yourself.”

The penis showed itself, instantly Kiviuq waded into the water, grabbed the penis with his hand, and with the knife he had tied onto his kamik string, he chopped off the penis at its root. Instantly the lake was covered with blood.

He took the penis home and cooked it before waking his wives. He awoke them and told them to eat.

As the women ate, the talkative one asked, “What is this meat, it seems rather tasty and has a distinct odour?” Kiviuq answered, “It is the penis of your lover!” “Yuk” replied the other woman, but Kiviuq made them eat the whole thing until it was finished.

That being done, they moved onto another area where they found many live maggots. Using both his inner and outer footwear as bags, Kiviuq began gathering the maggots. He took them home and placed them onto the sleeping platform. He then asked his wives, “Which are you most afraid of, maggots or a sharp pana?”

One wife replied, “I am not afraid of maggots, one can kill them by merely bursting them.” Kiviuq then had her remove her pants and let her sit on the maggots. They entered her body by her vagina.

As the maggots entered her body she said, “They’re eating my guts, and finishing it and now they are eating my liver and finishing it and on to my lungs and finishing it, now they’re eating my heart and finishing it…” Then she died. The maggots in her body began changing into rodents and came out of her mouth and any open areas of her body.

He then asked his second wife, “Which are you most afraid of, maggots or a sharp pana?” Right away she replied, “If you’ll kill me instantly, I am not afraid of the pana.” He then stabbed her in the heart with his pana, instantly killing her. Kiviuq continued on his journey.

Pana – snow knife, used for cutting blocks for igloos and for many other purposes.

What other elders say about this part of the story

Some say that the penis belonged to the spirit of the lake. I (Kira) wonder if the women had a relationship with that spirit – for example if the lake spirit was a tuurngaq, or shaman’s helping spirit. This would mean that at least one of the wives was also a shaman, which is very possible given what happens next.

Many of the elders say that Kiviuq buried his two wives under rocks and several add that the fox he meets in the next part of the story came out from one of the graves, indicating that she was the reincarnation of the wife. Shamans are known to reincarnate as animals between their human lives. During this time they learn much important information from the animal experience.

Some elders point out that the women were neglecting their work, and thus needed to learn a lesson. In the arctic world every person is needed, each must do his or her part to keep the society alive. When someone neglects important work such as treating hides and preparing food, they threaten the lives of their neighbours and families. However the elders agreed that Kiviuq was very wrong to kill his wives. A number of elders said that Kiviuq, still angry, took a burning brand from the fire and burned one of the lemmings that came from his wife’s body. This is probably the most distressing part of the story for today’s listeners. It’s important to discuss it and to realize that no one in traditional society would ever think that it was OK for Kiviuq to kill his wives.

Continue the story: The Fox-wife

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