Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/370

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(7) Heavenly Bodies. There is no appearance of a belief that any heavenly bodies are living beings; in the Banks' Islands the Sun and Moon are thought to be rocks or islands. In Lepers' Island the story is told that the Sun and the Moon quarrelled while the Sun was making a mash of wild yam, and that he threw the mess in a rage at the Moon's face, on which the splashes are to be seen; but this is told without any serious belief. It is commonly believed that there is a human being, male or female, in the Moon. The stories of Vulaninggela and Kamakajaku shew the belief in Florida and Ysabel that there is a person who goes with the Sun and whose name is Sun, rather than that the Sun is a person. In Florida the name of the Man in the Moon is Ngava; when the Moon rises full they cry 'There is Ngava sitting.' Every new moon is thought to be really new. No cause is supposed for eclipses, unless it be the magic of some weather-doctor; an eclipse is a wonder, a portent, bringing an appalling sense of danger, which finds expression in shouting, blowing conchs, and beating house roofs, with no very distinct purpose of driving the fearful thing away. Eclipses of the sun are not recognised as occurring at Mota. When a remarkable comet, called in the Banks' Islands a 'smoking star,' appeared in the year 1882, the Lepers' islanders blew conchs to drive it. away, or at least to divert the mischief. A falling star is the same sort of portent; some great man will die, there will be an attack of enemies. The appearance of two stars close together, warue in Lepers' Island, signifies war. The Solomon Islands people are more concerned about the stars than their Eastern brethren, perhaps because of their longer voyages; the Santa Cruz people and Reef islanders excel all the rest in their practical astronomy. The Banks' islanders and Northern New Hebrides people content themselves with distinguishing the Pleiades, by which the approach of yam harvest is marked, and with calling the planets masoi, from their roundness, as distinct from vitu, stars. In Florida the early morning star is called gama ni votu, the quartz pebble for setting off to sea; when it rises later it is gama ni ndani,