Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/299

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Banks Islands. Descents to Hades.

those who have no home in Panoi, are in a general way kindly to living men; though if their friends and property are damaged, they are angry and revengeful. It is true that men are afraid of these and all other ghosts, because a ghost is of itself a dreadful thing to a living man. They are seen, but not distinctly—only their eyes like phosphorescent fungi, or something red. Life in Panoi is eternal, unless indeed, as some say, there are two Panois, one below the other, and the dead die from the upper to the lower, as living men die from earth; from the lower they never die, but turn into white ants' nests, te wog qatete nia.

Descents to Panoi have been by no means uncommon. There was a woman, who died not many years ago, who once much desired to see her lately dead brother; she perfumed herself with water in which a dead rat had been steeped, to give herself a death-like smell, pulled up a bird's-nest fern, a puget, and descended by the hole she had opened. She had no difficulty in finding Panoi, and she saw friends there who were surprised to see her, and never discovered that she was alive. She found her brother lying in a house, because as a recent ghost he was not strong enough yet to move about. He cautioned her to eat nothing there, and she returned. This descent was in the body, as was that of one Molborbor of Valuwa, who went down and saw his wife; but a man in Motlav, more lately dead, used to go down in sleep, his soul descending, and his body remaining as in a trance. He could do this at will, and received money for doing it, professing to visit the recently dead, about whom their friends were unhappy, and even to be able to bring them back. He never did in fact bring any back; he said he had seen the persons and talked with them, but was prevented from bringing them back. He, too, prepared for his soul's descent by washing his body with water in which a putrid rat, snake or lizard had been steeped. There was a man in former days at Motlav, Vanvanvegirgir by name, who going down to Panoi in his talegi, soul, took once another man with him in his body. This man had lately lost his wife, and went to Vanvanvegirgir