Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/246

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Possession. Intercourse with Ghosts.

with one end of the bamboo in their hands. Then the bamboo leads them as the ghost within it chooses. They make known what they wish by singing, and the bamboo makes them do the contrary to what they say they want; if they sing that they will go up hill it drags them down. Finally, they sing that they wish not to return into the path, and they are led out of the bush into the path; they sing that they do not want to go into the village, and they are taken there. In the same way a club is put at night into a cycas-tree, which has a sacred character, and when the name of some ghost is called it moves of itself and will lift and drag people about. In Mota a few years ago they tried again a practice of this kind long disused, with a success that caused alarm. A basket was fastened to the end of a bamboo and food put in it; a man took the bamboo upon his shoulder and walked along, the basket at his back; presently he felt a heavy weight in the basket as much as he could carry, a sign that a ghost had come into it. The bamboo then would drag people about, and put up into a tree would lift them from the ground. This resembles a good deal a method of divination used at Motlav, and described above, but there is no divination in these tricks.

There was, and perhaps still is, in the Torres Islands something similar to this, when ghosts influenced and took possession of people with the use of sticks. This has been described by a native under the name of Na tamet lingalinga, by which name those who are subjected to the ghostly influence are called. It is done, he writes, on the fifth day after a death. There was a certain man at Lo who took the lead, and without whom nothing could be done; he gave out that he would descend into Panoi, the abode of the dead, and he had with him certain others, assistants. He and his party were called simply 'ghosts' when engaged in the affair. The first thing was to assemble those who were willing to be treated in a gamal, a public hall, perhaps twenty young men or boys, to make them lie down on the two sides, and to shake over them leaves and tips of the twigs of plants powerful and magical