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RSW Living Magazine

The Melting Ice: in both our world and our hearts

Jun 26, 2017 10:46PM ● By Kevin

Uncle, a shaman from Greenland, is a passionate and outspoken messenger on climate change, or what he calls the "big ice," melting at the top of the world. Photo by Sven Nieder.

Photo by Gina Birch.

He’s an Eskimo from Greenland 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 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.”

Ceremonial rituals using fire are in Uncle's teachings. Photo by Gina Birch.

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 like massage. It manipulates the layers of connective tissue, helping to improve the body’s posture and structure.

“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. 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.

Ceremonial rituals using drums are in Uncle's teachings. Photo by Gina Birch.

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 people to understand. “Traditional healers work with energy, 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,” Uncle says. “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 touch the left side of a person you can feel the story of that heart. The heart can never make up a story it can only tell what 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 glaciers that are melting everyday 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 schedule of events in North America and Southwest Florida go to

Gina Birch is a regular contributor and well-known media personality in Southwest Florida who has traveled to visit Uncle at the so-called “big ice” in Greenland.