Moonstruck


In Jordanna Max Brodsky’s The Wolf in the Whale, the moon god Taqqiq was an antagonist of Omat. Looking up Inuit lunar mythology, there are many different names for this god, Igaluk being perhaps the most popular one, while he’s called Anigan in Greenland. “Taqqiq” literally means “moon,” and is also sometimes called Tarquip Inua, or “Master of the Moon.” Another variation, Tarqeq, is the name of a moon of Saturn, one of five irregular satellites named after figures from Inuit mythology.

The moon god is one of the most important Inuit deities, a powerful master, hunter, and fertility god. The stories I’ve seen of Taqqiq (which, admittedly, were what I could find through a quick Google search) mostly involve his relationship to his sister, the Sun.

As I’ve written before, it’s often the case in mythology that the Sun and Moon are siblings of opposite genders, but which is which varies. The Inuit Sun is known as Malina (which means “following”) or Siqiniq. Her brother raped her in the dark, but she eventually found out who it was by spreading seal oil on his face. She ran away from him with a brightly lit torch, pursued by her brother with a dimmer torch, as he was in a haste to prepare it. They both ended up in the sky, Taqqiq in constant pursuit of Siqiniq.

He would grow weaker during the chase, so he had to return to Earth and hunt for game to sustain himself, this period being the new moon. When he did catch her, that was an eclipse, but I don’t know that it’s clear whether he raped her again or felt remorseful for that. Some versions of the story make Taqqiq less villainous, either by having him not realize the woman he rapes is his sister (although that still means he’s a rapist, just not an intentionally incestuous one), or that his crime was simply injuring Malina while they were playing. Sometimes Malina cuts off her own breasts to distract Taqqiq. The moon god also has a nemesis in Tulok, a warrior who sought to kill Igaluk for his incestuous actions. Malina, realizing the potential danger in this, willingly formed an eclipse with her brother, which trapped Tulok in the sky and split him into the many stars. His name means “warrior of the stars.” In the Wikipedia entry, the editor seems to have forgotten which celestial body has which name, which makes for a confusing account. Unfortunately, a lot of other pages have just copied and pasted the Wikipedia description. Is there other information available on Tulok? Also, it seems that the moon god was often revered in Inuit culture, so these myths might not reflect the general conception of him that well.

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