In both our world and our hearts

RSWLiving - - Contents - Gina Birch is a reg­u­lar con­trib­u­tor to TOTI Me­dia and a well­known me­dia per­son­al­ity in South­west Florida who has trav­eled to visit Un­cle at the “big ice” in Green­land.

He’s an Eskimo from Green­land stand­ing about 5 feet 5 inches tall, but when he walks into a room it feels like you’re in the pres­ence of a gi­ant, a gen­tle one called An­gaan­gaq An­gakko­r­suaq, trans­lat­ing to “the man who looks like his un­cle.” Un­cle is a shaman born in a small vil­lage you’ll find at the top of the globe. His quest is to save our planet.


who stands about 5 feet 5 inches tall, but when he walks into a room it feels like you’re in the pres­ence of a gi­ant, a gen­tle one called An­gaan­gaq An­gakko­r­suaq. Trans­lated, An­gaan­gaq means “the man who looks like his un­cle.” Those who know him af­fec­tion­ately call him Un­cle. And it’s eas­ier to pro­nounce. Un­cle is a shaman, born in Kalaal­lit Nu­naat , a small vil­lage you’ll find at the top of the globe. A mes­sen­ger of his na­tive peo­ple on cli­mate change, or what he calls the “big ice” or glaciers that are melt­ing at the top of the world, his mes­sage also in­cludes one of chang­ing the cli­mate within, melt­ing the ice in the heart of man. Shaman­ism is an an­cient heal­ing tra­di­tion con­nect­ing the phys­i­cal and spir­i­tual worlds. Among many in­dige­nous cul­tures, shamans are the spir­i­tual and cer­e­mo­nial lead­ers. Un­cle has trav­eled to five con­ti­nents, more than 68 coun­tries, spo­ken to the United Na­tions Gen­eral Assem­bly, has met with re­li­gious lead­ers and heal­ers world­wide and has been fea­tured in doc­u­men­taries. When I asked him why, for 13 years, he con­tin­ues to put South­west Florida on his in­ter­na­tional itin­er­ary, he smiles and says, “I only go places where I’m in­vited.” On a more se­ri­ous note, Un­cle adds, “This is where my real hope comes. That one of those peo­ple who keep com­ing back will one day be­come the hope for Fort My­ers, for the state of Florida, for the coun­try of the United States. And the coun­try needs a lot of hope.” His gath­er­ings typ­i­cally oc­cur over the course of a week­end and are held in a cir­cle. “The foun­da­tion of Eskimo be­lief is the cir­cle, which has no be­gin­ning and no end­ing, to which we all be­long,’’ he says. “The beauty of the cir­cle is we can­not see each other’s backs, the strength of the cir­cle is that you can only see each other’s beauty.”

Judi Macy ex­tended the first invitation for Un­cle to visit South­west Florida af­ter meet­ing him at a work­shop in New York in 2004. She says, “My mar­riage was end­ing and I wanted it all to be in a good way. When I came back, at every com­mu­ni­ca­tion I would think am I melt­ing ice or cre­at­ing ice. That be­gan to change how I was re­lat­ing to [her hus­band] and it changed how he was re­lat­ing to me.”

Now Macy or­ga­nizes the Eskimo shaman’s events in the United States and uses the wis­dom she’s gained from his teach­ings in her Rolf­ing prac­tice in Fort My­ers. "Rolf­ing is a body­work that re­or­ga­nizes the con­nec­tive tis­sues, called fas­cia, that per­me­ate the en­tire body," ac­cord­ing to

“This work with Un­cle has helped me tremen­dously in what I do, to cen­ter my­self and work from my heart rather than just my head,” she says.

Grow­ing up in a re­mote vil­lage, Un­cle’s grand­mother rec­og­nized his shamanic call­ing and be­gan groom­ing him at an early age. He was tapped by his fam­ily to be a “run­ner” for his elders. “I was a young kid … the elders gave me di­rec­tion to go to the world and tell them that the big ice is melt­ing. We call it cli­mate change now.”

That was in 1975, long be­fore the topic be­came so hotly de­bated and en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues grew so vast.

While he was given a stage in front some of the most in­flu­en­tial peo­ple in the world and peo­ple who could make a dif­fer­ence, none did.

“One day I got so tired that no one ever changed, I went home say­ing, ‘I want to quit. No one in the world ever changes.’ They gave me stand­ing ova­tions but no one changes.”

His mother sug­gested that he change his ap­proach. “She told me, ‘You’re go­ing to have to learn to melt the ice in the heart of man. Only by melt­ing the ice in the heart of the man, will man have a chance and be­gin us­ing his knowl­edge wisely. That is when my life changed.”

He went to what he calls the Sa­cred Moun­tain and of­fi­cially en­tered the shamanic world in the tra­di­tion of his elders. “The best way to un­der­stand it is to say that’s where you en­ter the eye of the nee­dle, your path into the world of shamanic tra­di­tion. There is no way of com­ing back. The shamanic tra­di­tion is not a week­end job. It’s a life com­mit­ment,” he says.

The word shaman means many things to many dif­fer­ent peo­ple, ac­cord­ing to Ruth Henry, a massage ther­a­pist and en­ergy worker in Ten­nessee who of­ten trav­els to South­west Florida to par­tic­i­pate in Un­cle’s cir­cles. “I met a shaman from Ecuador who says you are ei­ther born one or you are not. In some cul­tures, it means a de­ci­sion-maker, oth­ers a phys­i­cal healer,” she says.

Macy says a lot of peo­ple de­scribe them­selves as shamans. “When so many peo­ple use it, it takes away the true mean­ing,” she says.

Dr. Me­linea Hol­man, a holis­tic prac­ti­tioner in Fort My­ers, says true shamans know how to use en­ergy.

‘’The dif­fer­ence be­tween a week­end shaman and some­one like Un­cle is that he’s car­ried this for a life­time. He walks it and breathes it,’’ Hol­man says.

Un­cle calls him­self a guide. “We have many, many, many choices and a shaman can help to guide you to walk a path. My fa­ther would say you walk your path all the way out, and when you walk it all the way out then you come home to your­self. When you talk in the shamanic world, you’re not look­ing at the clock.”

En­ergy work can be dif­fi­cult for many of us to un­der­stand. “Tra­di­tional heal­ers work with en­ergy," Un­cle says, "and for medication they gave wa­ter and taught how to eat the plants; so these guys knew long ago, be­fore medicine ar­rived, that it’s en­ergy. If you changed your en­ergy, you changed your life.”

Un­cle has an ex­tra­or­di­nary gift of see­ing, feel­ing and read­ing en­ergy. “Ev­ery­one is so dif­fer­ent from each other but the com­mon thing about peo­ple is that they have a heart. And when you feel the left side of a per­son, you can feel the story of a heart. The heart can never make up a story, it can only tell what it is."

The right side of the body, far from the heart, holds the en­ergy of your strug­gles. You can see it in peo­ple who tend to look down, necks bent, shoul­ders heavy. “It’s like they carry all the bur­dens of their friends and fam­i­lies,’’ Un­cle says.

As a healer, Un­cle helps peo­ple shift their en­er­gies. When he chants, gently putting his hand on your body or close to it, you can of­ten phys­i­cally feel a weight be­ing re­moved. In the cir­cles that Un­cle holds in Fort My­ers, he chants, uses his drum and teaches the wis­dom of his elders. That sounds so sim­ple, but can of­ten be so dif­fi­cult to ap­ply.

As Un­cle seeks to melt the ice in the heart of man, teach­ing peo­ple how to “come home to your­self,” he still speaks about the big ice, the thou­sands of miles of glacier s that each day are melt­ing in Green­land.

“The earth has al­ways changed, but this time we have never been so many [in pop­u­la­tion], so the im­pact world­wide is go­ing to be enor­mous. We have a re­spon­si­bil­ity. Every one of us,” he says.

For sched­uled events, visit icewis­

Un­cle of­ten brings his mes­sage to South­west Florida, hop­ing to change minds and open hearts about cli­mate change. Cer­e­mo­nial rit­u­als ( be­low) us­ing fire and drums are in his teach­ings.

As the glaciers melt in Un­cle's Green­land, lands emerge and bring new chal­lenges to the en­vi­ron­ment.

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