Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/204

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Sacred Places and Things.

A stone with little disks upon it, a block of ancient coral, was good to bring in money; any fanciful interpretation of a mark on a stone or of its shape was enough to give a character to the stone and to the spirit associated with it; the stone would not have that mark or shape without a reason. Many of these stones had names of their own, as above, as Puglava, 'much money out at interest,' at Luwai, and as more than one named simply Money. The spirits belonging to these stones are nameless; their connexion each with its own stone is not clearly defined; the stone, they say, is not the body of the spirit, nor is the spirit like the soul of the stone, for a stone certainly has no soul; they say that the spirit is at the stone, o vui ape vatu, or near the stone, and it is the spirit not the stone that acts. Some of these stones have an ancient established sanctity; only the few who know how to approach the spirit will visit them for sacrifice, all others pass by with awe, and will not tread the sacred ground about them. If by some mishap one finds that he has intruded on a sacred place, he hastens to engage the services of the man who knows the stone, to make an offering to the spirit, lest he should suffer from accident or sickness. There are some stones that have a sinister reputation, as those near which an accident has happened; and there are some upon which it is dangerous for a man's shadow to fall; it is well to make offerings upon these, to keep the spirit in good humour. A stone which is good for success in fighting is also likely to do harm if not treated with due observance; some stones have the name of galaqar, as though they would spring up like a trap upon the trespasser. Large stones as they naturally lie have a high place among the sacred objects of the New Hebrides. In Aurora some of these are believed to have been produced in the ancient time of universal darkness, qong tali, when, if two men were sitting at all apart, a stone would grow up out of the ground between them; such are to be seen in the forest now, tall as a house and of strange shapes. These have no names, as some others have had from ancient times; the common name for all sacred stones is matiu. Some are vui who have turned into stones; some in the sea are