Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/301

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New Hebrides. Journey of the Dead.

place, he says, they think that when the soul, tamani, leaves the body in death, it mounts into a tree in which is a bird's-nest fern, and sitting among the fronds, laughs and mocks at the people who are crying and making great lamentations over him. There he sits, wondering at them and ridiculing them. 'What are they crying for?' he says; 'who is it they are sorry for? Here am I.' For they think that the real thing is the soul, and that it has gone away from the body just as a man throws off his clothes and leaves them, and the clothes lie by themselves with nothing in them; (the Maewo word gavui applies in such a case, the white of an egg is the gavui of it, the yolk the real thing; the word for clothes is gavu, integument). Then the soul goes through his gardens and along his customary paths, and finally leaves the place. He runs along the line of hills till he reaches the end of the island, and there he comes to the place of recollection, the Maewo name for which is vat dodoma, the stone of thought; if he remembers there his child or his wife or anything that belongs to him, he will run back and come to life again. In the same place also are two rocks with a deep ravine between them; if the ghost clears this as he leaps across he is for ever dead, but if one fails he returns to life again. The ghost pursues his course running along the mountain range to the end opposite to Raga, Pentecost, at the mate tasi, land's end, or brink of sea, and when he arrives safely all the ghosts of those who have died before assemble and receive him joyfully. They believe also that as he runs the ghosts of those whom he has wronged in this world, whom he has foully slain by club or arrow, or has killed by charms, take a full revenge upon him, beating him, tearing him, and stabbing him with daggers, mataso, such as men stick pigs with; one of them will say to him, 'While you were still in the world you thought yourself a valiant man; but now we will take our revenge upon you.' Another path of the ghosts takes them to the northern point of Maewo, where there is a deep gully and three leaping-places, one for men, one for women, and one for ulcerous persons. It is a curse to wish a man may fall down