Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/212

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Sacred Places and Things.

and all believe him. Sometimes a young man will run home at night and lose his senses; they are sure that he has been with a mae. Sometimes one will come in and lie down and sicken; they press him, and he confesses what he has done and seen, and then he dies. Nothing seems to be more fixed in the minds of natives, even those who have some education, than the persuasion that all this is true.

The sacred character of the kingfisher is remarkable, and the reason of it hard to find. In San Cristoval a kingfisher pecks the head of the lately separated soul which has not yet realized its condition, and it sinks into a ghost; the natives therefore kill it, but young ones spring up from the blood of every one they kill. In the Banks' Islands every kingfisher, sigo, is sacred, rongo; a spirit is connected with it; not one is ever killed or eaten. It is a singular thing that they make halcyon days; it is the name of the kingfisher that carries the magic power in the charm for sunshine, for the sigo is thought to control storms and rain, and the charm calls on it to eat the rising waves and make a calm. They declare that there are kingfishers at sea as well as on land, some of a species only seen at sea away from land. If a man going out on a journey hears a kingfisher cry, he thinks it is angry and forbids his going; he therefore sings a charm: 'Tagar we me-e, nelehet ni van barbar, ne lee we ni ver gor nangek me-e! Good luck to me, let mischief pass beside me, let good hap come round before my face[1]!'

  1. In prose Mota 'Togara wia ma, o lea we tatas ni van parapara, o lea we wia ni viro goro nanagok ma.'