Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/214

This page has been validated.
192
[ch.
Magic.

ledge of the things which have spiritual power is himself saka; one who knows a charm which is saka mutters it over water, sarue, and makes the water 'hot,’ ha’asaka. The people of Mala Masiki, the lesser part of the island, which is cut in two not far from its south-eastern end by a narrow channel, think that the men of the larger part, Mala Paina, are very saka. If one of these visiting the Saa people points with his finger, suisui, there is danger of death or calamity; if one of them spits on a man he dies at once. By whatever name it is called, it is the belief in this super-natural power, and in the efficacy of the various means by which spirits and ghosts can be induced to exercise it for the benefit of men, that is the foundation of the rites and practices which can be called religious; and it is from the same belief that everything which may be called Magic and Witchcraft draws its origin. Wizards, doctors, weather-mongers, prophets, diviners, dreamers, all alike, everywhere in the islands, work by this power. There are many of these who may be said to exercise their art as a profession; they get their property and influence in this way. Every considerable village or settlement is sure to have some one who can control the weather and the waves, some one who knows how to treat sickness, some one who can work mischief with various charms. There may be one whose skill extends to all these branches; but generally one man knows how to do one thing and one another. This various knowledge is handed down from father to son, from uncle to sister's son, in the same way as is the knowledge of the rites and methods of sacrifice and prayer; and very often the same man who knows the sacrifice knows also the making of the weather, and of charms for many purposes besides. But as there is no order of priests, there is also no order of magicians or medicine-men. Almost every man of consideration knows how to approach some ghost or spirit, and has some secret of occult practices. Knowledge of either kind can be bought, if the possessor chooses to impart it to any other than the heirs of whatever he has besides.

There is no doubt that those who exercise these arts really