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The Many Colors of the Goddess: Pana and Pinga; Inuit Goddesses of the Soul
Pana; Custodian of the Souls
Pana, also know as the "Woman Up There" is often seen as a deity who resides within the starry skies. Her task is to watch over the souls who are transported from the middle world (Earth) and sent to the upper realms (Sky). There she takes care of the souls until they are ready to be reincarnated and once more sent back to earth to be born as babies.
The Inuit people believe in a three layer world. The Underworld is where the evil spirits reside, Earth is where the mortal souls face the harsh elements and the upper world is where the soul goes to reside until reincarnation. When a soul is ready to be reincarnated, Pana is assisted by the God of the Moon, Anningan, who cannot shine during this time. Thus, why the moon falls into a dark stage.
The other physical affect that Pana is associated with for the Inuit people, is the Northern Lights. It is believed that there are holes in the part of the Upper World where Pana resides, and because of these holes, the light of the gods slip through and create bright hues of light that dance across the sky.
Pinga; Observer of Humans and the Guide to the Underworld
Pinga, or also known as "She Who is On High" is a unique and complex goddess with many different aspects to her. Firstly, she is a goddess of the hunt and watches over the well being of all animals. This is the realm in which she most often observes human behavior and is most likely to be angered by. Some sources say that if she is angered, that she can prevent the caribou from coming while others say unlike other deities she does not prevent the migration of caribou through human settlements. For some of the inland Inuit, she is known as the mother of the caribou, and has been suggested to have had a hand in the way caribou look now.
Another aspect of Pinga is her relationship with the shamans of the Inuit tribes. As a healer, she is known to be one of the deities that a shaman will channel in order to obtain the abilities and knowledge to heal. Some the healing aspects she is a part of is conception and birth, supervising both, given she also known for being a goddess of fertility.
The last aspect of Pinga is her relationship with the human soul and the Upper world called Anguta. While Pana is the keeper of souls, Pinga is the one who gathers up the souls and transports them to the upper world to be purified and then sent back to earth. By having this aspect attached to her, she is seen as a goddess of both life, death and rebirth, giving her a trinity influence on the life of a human soul.
Caribou Inuit Location
The Bladder Dance
Remnants of these two goddesses are still evident in the Bladder Dance that is still performed to this day by the Inuit people. It is a dance that follows the celebration of a big hunt, often times after hunting quite a few caribou. Possessing a spiritual connotation as well, this dance was meant to set free the soul of the animal they killed by honoring the organ they thought contained the soul: the bladder. This shows a reverence still not only for the animals important to the goddess but also a respect for the soul, even more so the soul of all beings. With traditions like this still continued today, it is clear that an understanding and belief that what is done in this life will affect the way in which the two goddesses who have a say in your next.