Once upon a time and very long ago, the people of Greenland would gather together in a great room to play the Games of Darkness. Because there was only darkness throughout the world. In this game, people would pair off in total darkness, one man and one woman. In the morning, nothing was said and all was forgiven.
For one young girl she found that she was with the same man every night. She was curious to discover who it was, so she devised a plan.
She kept fresh sod on her hand and when the man came to her, she would wipe the sod on his back. Later, she lit a small fire and carried it to the great room where everyone slept. In the glow of the fire she discovered the man who came to her was her very own brother. In her shame, she took her ulu (traditional woman’s knife) and slashed herself across the chest and began to bleed. As she cried out, her brother awoke. They caught each other’s eyes and she ran out of the great room and out into the night carting her fire. Her brother, tried as he might, could not make a fire in which to see her. Still he followed her out into the night. as well because he loved her and always wanted to be with her. He followed her light as she ran out into the field. She ran out into the snow and he still followed her. She ran across the ocean and he still followed her. She finally ran into the sky and he followed he still. As bright as her light was, he could never find her. But, he had never given up as she continues to run with her fire.
She is Maliina, the Sun. He is Aningaq, the Moon. Forever, he chases her across the sky.
Although, it would be easy to read the incestuous nature to this story, but it would be selling this story short. For more on mythology, read almost anything by Joseph Campbell.
Nive Heilmann of Greenland Travel in Ilulissat sat with me over coffee and enthusiastically shared the stories that were given to her by her grandmother. I want to thank her for telling me the stories, traditions, and mythology of her home. I am grateful for her time.
For more on Greenland at ITKT