Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/164

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Sacrifices.

wrecked. It does not appear that any one comes between the offerer and Qat in this, perhaps because Qat is known to every one. There is no doubt often a sacrifice, oloolo, made in the way of propitiation; but a vui is not a malignant spirit that will do harm unless propitiated. If a man has heedlessly gone into a sacred place and is afraid that he has offended the spirit belonging to it, he will make his offering to the man whose sacred place it is, that he may appease the spirit; and in the case of sickness there is always the presumption that some spirit has been offended. A man whose familiar spirit is associated with a snake, an eel, owl, crab or some such creature, visits it and makes his offerings to keep in favour with it, or to obtain its favour for some one from whom he receives money for an offering. They say that a man who has a mae, an amphibious snake to which a certain awful character belongs, as his familiar, goes to the sacred place it haunts and calls it till it comes. He sits down and the snake crawls over him, putting its tongue into his mouth, which he sucks. He scatters money for the spirit, for he does not offer to the snake but to the spirit, vui, that is with the snake and manifested in it. He does not invoke or pray to the spirit, but he may pray to the ghosts of his predecessors in this particular mystery. When a man visits his familiar in this way no one else is present, and the doubt has occurred to the native people whether there be a snake at all. It is certain that when a man has died who has been in the habit of receiving money to offer to the snake, and another who has received instructions from him as his successor has gone to reopen so profitable a connexion, the creature has not been found; but then it is also concluded that the man and the snake die together. Money in this same way of sacrifice, if so it can be called, is scattered in a deep hole in a stream, or in a pool among the rocks upon the beach; wherever some impressive touch of natural awe comes upon the native mind it apprehends the presence of some haunting vui, and is moved to an act of worship; but it is not to the stone or stream or tree, or to the spirit of it, that the offering is made; the vui is a person as a