Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/213

This page has been validated.


CHAPTER XII.

MAGIC.

That invisible power which is believed by the natives to cause all such effects as transcend their conception of the regular course of nature, and to reside in spiritual beings, whether in the spiritual part of living men or in the ghosts of the dead, being imparted by them to their names and to various things that belong to them, such as stones, snakes, and indeed objects of all sorts, is that generally known as mana. Without some understanding of this it is impossible to understand the religious beliefs and practices of the Melanesians; and this again is the active force in all they do and believe to be done in magic, white or black. By means of this men are able to control or direct the forces of nature, to make rain or sunshine, wind or calm, to cause sickness or remove it, to know what is far off in time and space, to bring good luck and prosperity, or to blast and curse. No man, however, has this power of his own; all that he does is done by the aid of personal beings, ghosts or spirits; he cannot be said, as a spirit can, to be mana himself, using the word to express a quality; he can be said to have mana, it may be said to be with him, the word being used as a substantive. In the New Hebrides, the Banks' Islands, the Solomon Islands about Florida, as in New Zealand and many of the Pacific Islands, the word in use is mana. In Santa Cruz a different word, malete, is used, which bears however the same meaning. At Saa in Malanta all persons and things in which this supernatural power resides are said to be saka, that is, hot. Ghosts that are powerful are saka; a man who has know-