At Saa, and in the neighbouring parts of Malanta, the same word is used for the soul of a living man and the ghost of an ordinary person, 'akalo, which is another form of the 'ataro of San Cristoval. The 'akalo, which goes out of the body in dreams and returns again, goes out finally in death, leaving the body after a natural death ra'e, after a violent death lalamoa. The ghosts of ordinary people are 'akalo, and nothing else; those of chiefs, valiant fighting men, men of conspicuous success in life, of men who are saka, have spiritual power, are expected to become lio'a, ghosts which again are saka, have spiritual power, and are worshipful accordingly; as the ghost of a warrior when found by proof to act becomes lio'a ni ma'e, a ghost powerful for death. The origin of death is ascribed, as in the Banks' Islands and New Hebrides, to the old woman who having changed her skin afterwards resumed the slough, which had caught upon a reed. All ghosts upon leaving the body swim first to a point of land at Saa, then to a point of Ulawa, then to the Three Sisters, 'Olu Malau, then to a point of San Cristoval near Hada, and lastly to Marapa, two islands lying off Marau in Guadalcanar. While the body is rotting the ghost is weak; when the smell has ceased the ghost is strong, it is no longer a man. The ghostly inhabitants of Marapa live something like a worldly life; the children chatter and annoy the elder ghosts, so they are placed apart upon the second island; men and women ghosts are together, they have houses, gardens, and canoes, yet all is unsubstantial. Living men cross to Marapa and see nothing; but there is water there in which laughter and cries are heard; there are places where water is seen to have been disturbed, and the banks are wet as if bathers had been there. A dead chief makes his canoe and his house there, like those which his living son is building, but they are built of the soft esculent hibiscus, and come to nothing; it is like the play of children. This ghostly life is not eternal; the mere 'akalo soon turn into white ants' nests, which again become the food of the still vigorous ghosts; hence a living man says to his idle son, ’When I die I shall have ants' nests to eat, but then what will you have?' The
Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/282
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Death. Burial. After Death.