Northern Lights as Dancing Souls – Native Beliefs

Photo from NASA (taken from

From – Indian Country Today –

The aurora borealis, or Northern Lights, generally stay, well, north—up near the Arctic Circle, in fact. But on October 24 they paid lower Turtle Island a rare visit, appearing in a spectacular show as far south as Alabama and New Mexico.

Usually most visible at the spring and fall equinoxes, the spectacular undulating light show sometimes surprises. As if the celestial wonder of the Orionid Meteor Shower on October 22 weren’t enough, a sunstorm’s cosmic particles hit the earth’s magnetic field just when most of the U.S. was getting dark or already so, the U.S. National Weather Service Space Weather Prediction Center said on its site. It came from a “Coronal Mass Ejection” on Saturday October 22, the weather prediction center said, meaning that debris from a geomagnetic storm was released, hitting the earth’s atmosphere on Monday. Clear skies didn’t hurt the view.

“Unfortunately for sky watchers, the geomagnetic storm appears to be in decline and no further significant space weather is expected at this time,” the prediction center said.

For those who were not able to catch the show, these videos will give you a flavor. And [below is] a bit of lore on the Northern Lights and their significance in various Native cultures.


“The spring equinox has just passed, marking the start of prime viewing time for the aurora borealis, the curtains of light that dance above the Arctic and antarctic. The northern lights, as they are known, are more active around both equinoxes, but most visible at springtime, according to NASA.

According to the Canadian Association of Aboriginal Entrepreneurship, the Eskimos of the lower Yukon River in Alaska believed the auroras were the “dancing souls of their favorite animals: deer, seal, salmon, and beluga whales,” the group says on its website. The Nunamiut Eskimos believed that ”if the sky is divided in half by auroral displays, animals will be plentiful in the area the next day.”

Inuit shamans used the aurora to help cure disease, calling upon it as a spirit, the site says, adding, “Inuit leaders would take ‘spirit journeys’ into the lights to obtain advice and rescue souls from death.”

Children in the north are to this day told not to whistle or sing to the northern lights: “The lights will come and take you away,” the say, according to the CAAE. “They are not to be trusted.”

Images of the aurora borealis decapitating unsuspecting people are a running theme throughout Inuit art, especially carvings.

“To people who lived in the spirit-filled world of traditional cultures, one fact was clear,” the CAAE says. “The forces that dance in the polar dark are awe-inspiring—alien, frightening, uncontrollable and immensely active.”

About Mare Cromwell

Referred to as “The Voice of Earth Mother” by a gifted Shoshone elder, Mare Cromwell is a multi-award-winning author, Medicine woman/Lightworker and healer. She has also been told by another gifted elder that her work with Earth Mother is in the prophecies. Her books include: "The Great Mother Bible"; "Messages from Mother.... Earth Mother"; and "If I gave you God’s phone number.... Searching for Spirituality in America". She has studied with Native American teachers for twenty-two years and sat on the World Council for Wisdom Gatherings for three years. Mare leads workshops on our Sacred Planet-Earth Mother, Womb Wisdom and Sacred Silliness and more. She is the visionary and producer of the 1000 Goddesses Gathering in Washington DC. Mare loves to be involved in Ceremony. She is also a former worm herder. She calls Western Maryland home.
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6 Responses to Northern Lights as Dancing Souls – Native Beliefs

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  4. Kiku Japan Honda says:

    NEVER KNEW THIS. sorry for the caps.

  5. Pingback: Antarctic Almanac – Aurora Australis – Part 2 of 3: Myths | Laura L Fox

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