Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/207

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Sacred Stones. Heaps

naturally lie in situ, but are small, and may be lost. In such a case the owner of the stone, knowing that ghosts have hidden it, cries to them and they restore it; although such a tano-oloolo is such by virtue of its association not with ghosts but spirits.

Lepers' Island may supply examples of the use of portable stones in the Northern New Hebrides. Besides those which lie naturally in the bush, in the tauteu, the sacred spot in which Tagaro is invoked, there are sacred stones which have more or less mana, and are effective for various purposes. Some are hung up in bags in the house. Some of these are inherited from ancient times, and some are new; some are good in fighting, some will produce food, some will cause a failure of crop; none will cause a large general crop for the year (that must be done by forms of words), and none are good for fishing. None are used in planting a garden; in that the juice of a young cocoa-nut is sprinkled with charms upon the ground, and the shells are set up at the sides. Each stone has its appropriate charm with Tagaro's name, sung over it when it is put to use.

Though the superstitious regard for stones is so commonly shewn, and the superstitious uses of them are so multifarious, there are yet practices with regard to them in which the natives deny that there is any superstitious or religious meaning and intent, natural as it is that an observer should suppose it. Such is the practice of throwing stones upon a heap by the way-side. Such a heap is to be seen at Valuwa in Saddle Island; each travelling stranger as he arrives casts his stone upon it. The natives declare that their notion is that days accumulate like stones; a man as he adds his stone to the heap 'puts his day upon it.' At Pun in the same island is a heap of fruits of various trees; a stranger as he comes gathers any fruit by the wayside and adds it to the heap. In each case it is a custom of the place; the people there like it to be kept up, because the heaps shew how many visitors they have. Between Valuwa and Motlav the path runs between two large stones; travellers going from Motlav to Valuwa kick the