Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/297

This page has been validated.
Banks' Islands. Judgment. Childless Ghosts.

restless, wandering back to earth, homeless, malignant, pitiable; these are they who eat excrement and open their mouths for wind; these are they who do harm to the living out of spite, who are dreaded as eating men's souls, who haunt the graves and woods. There is a singular belief at Lakona concerning this kind of judgment after death. The ghost's path leads him to the volcanic vents of the burning hill Garat, and as he runs along the ghosts assemble to receive him. They beat him, ghost as he already is, to death, then cut him to pieces, and each ghost will take a piece. They then put him together again, and if he has in his lifetime wrongfully shot the father, brother, or sogoi relation of any of the ghosts into whose hands he has fallen, or done any other wrong, the ghost who has the grievance will hide the piece of him that he has taken; he will remain with some part of him deficient, and when he goes down to Panoi and the ghosts ask him what has become of that bit of him, he will tell them that some one has kept it from him because he had done him wrong.

The ghost of a vasisgona, a woman who has died in childbed, cannot go to Panoi if her child lives, for she cannot leave her child. They therefore deceive her ghost by making up loosely a piece of a banana trunk in leaves, and laying it on her bosom when she is buried. Then, as she departs, she thinks she has the child with her; as she goes the banana stalk slips about in the leaves and she thinks the child is moving; and this in her bewildered new condition contents her, till she gets to Panoi and finds that she has been deceived. In the meanwhile the child has been taken to another house, because they know that the mother will come back to take its soul. She seeks everywhere for the child in grief and rage without ceasing; and the ghost of a vasisgona therefore is particularly dreaded.

Panoi is near, under the land of living men, as death is near to life. If a man is nearly killed he says, 'I have been close to Panoi, and have returned.' There is much there that is like the upper world, villages, houses, trees with red leaves,