Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/242

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Possession. Intercourse with Ghosts.

seized by his friends and held struggling in the smoke of strong smelling leaves, while they called one after another the names of the dead men whose ghosts were likely to be abroad; when the right name was called the ghost departed, but sometimes this treatment failed. It was a different thing when, as used to happen in former days, a ghost from Panoi, the abode of the dead, would come for a certain purpose into a man and speak with his voice. This did not happen to all men alike, but to some who were subject to this possession. Such a man would somewhere see a ghost, come home and lie down sick. People would come to see him, and calling him by his name would ask what was the matter. He would answer, 'It is not he, it is I,' that is, not the sick man, but the ghost who answers by his voice. Then they would call over the names of the lately deceased to see whose ghost it was, and when they hit on the right name he would answer, 'It is I.' Then he would begin to weep, and tell them that he had come back because he knew in Panoi that his wife and family were not duly cared for, or that his property was being wasted. He would scold his relatives for their misconduct, and he would tell them of things they did not know, such as where lost property would be found. Some one would then bring in a bunch of strong-smelling leaves to drive him away, and he would immediately perceive its presence; they would hide it and deny in vain that they had brought it in. They caught hold of him struggling and howling, and put the leaves to his nose; he seemed to die, the ghost departed from him as the soul departs from a dying man. After a while his senses would return, and he would declare that he knew nothing of what had been said or done since he saw that ghost and sickened. Such a medium as this, though not a wizard by profession, no doubt found it worth his while to receive these ghostly visits.

An Omen is a spontaneous manifestation or warning given by supernatural power, and not obtained by the arts of divination. The sign given to a Florida party, when they start upon their voyage and wait for the rocking of their