The Melanesians: Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore/Chapter 12



That invisible power which is believed by the natives to cause all such effects as transcend their conception of the regular course of nature, and to reside in spiritual beings, whether in the spiritual part of living men or in the ghosts of the dead, being imparted by them to their names and to various things that belong to them, such as stones, snakes, and indeed objects of all sorts, is that generally known as mana. Without some understanding of this it is impossible to understand the religious beliefs and practices of the Melanesians; and this again is the active force in all they do and believe to be done in magic, white or black. By means of this men are able to control or direct the forces of nature, to make rain or sunshine, wind or calm, to cause sickness or remove it, to know what is far off in time and space, to bring good luck and prosperity, or to blast and curse. No man, however, has this power of his own; all that he does is done by the aid of personal beings, ghosts or spirits; he cannot be said, as a spirit can, to be mana himself, using the word to express a quality; he can be said to have mana, it may be said to be with him, the word being used as a substantive. In the New Hebrides, the Banks' Islands, the Solomon Islands about Florida, as in New Zealand and many of the Pacific Islands, the word in use is mana. In Santa Cruz a different word, malete, is used, which bears however the same meaning. At Saa in Malanta all persons and things in which this supernatural power resides are said to be saka, that is, hot. Ghosts that are powerful are saka; a man who has ledge of the things which have spiritual power is himself saka; one who knows a charm which is saka mutters it over water, sarue, and makes the water 'hot,’ ha’asaka. The people of Mala Masiki, the lesser part of the island, which is cut in two not far from its south-eastern end by a narrow channel, think that the men of the larger part, Mala Paina, are very saka. If one of these visiting the Saa people points with his finger, suisui, there is danger of death or calamity; if one of them spits on a man he dies at once. By whatever name it is called, it is the belief in this super-natural power, and in the efficacy of the various means by which spirits and ghosts can be induced to exercise it for the benefit of men, that is the foundation of the rites and practices which can be called religious; and it is from the same belief that everything which may be called Magic and Witchcraft draws its origin. Wizards, doctors, weather-mongers, prophets, diviners, dreamers, all alike, everywhere in the islands, work by this power. There are many of these who may be said to exercise their art as a profession; they get their property and influence in this way. Every considerable village or settlement is sure to have some one who can control the weather and the waves, some one who knows how to treat sickness, some one who can work mischief with various charms. There may be one whose skill extends to all these branches; but generally one man knows how to do one thing and one another. This various knowledge is handed down from father to son, from uncle to sister's son, in the same way as is the knowledge of the rites and methods of sacrifice and prayer; and very often the same man who knows the sacrifice knows also the making of the weather, and of charms for many purposes besides. But as there is no order of priests, there is also no order of magicians or medicine-men. Almost every man of consideration knows how to approach some ghost or spirit, and has some secret of occult practices. Knowledge of either kind can be bought, if the possessor chooses to impart it to any other than the heirs of whatever he has besides.

There is no doubt that those who exercise these arts really believe in the power of them as much as the people on whose behalf they exercise them. In some cases there is conscious deceit, such as has been many times confessed by those who have become Christians. A young woman of my acquaintance in the Banks' Islands had a reputation for power of healing-toothache by a charm which had been taught her by an aged relative deceased. She would lay a certain leaf rolled up with certain muttered words upon the part inflamed; and when in course of time the pain subsided, she would take out and unfold the leaf, and shew within it the little white maggot that was the cause of the trouble. When Christian teaching began in the island she made no difficulty about disclosing the secret, and all laughed over it together. It is likely enough also that a weather-doctor observed for himself, and was taught by his predecessor to observe, the signs of change and steadiness in weather, and brought his charms to work or kept them back according to his observations. But the means he used seemed to him to be so naturally effective, and had been so often followed by the results at which they were aimed, that he seriously believed in them; and if sometimes they failed conspicuously, as when at Ysabel the weather-doctor's own house was blown down by a storm on the very day on which he had warranted a calm, there was also the explanation that another counter-charm had been at work and had been stronger. Such a supposition tended to confirm much more than to weaken the belief in the power of weather-doctors. It is not only in Melanesian islands that whatever confirms a belief is accepted and whatever makes against it is not weighed. Those who practised the various kinds of magic did believe very much in their own art.

Though those who practise these various arts cannot be separated into various classes or orders, or even regarded as an order by themselves, inasmuch as they are mixed among the population, and practise as they know some more some fewer arts, it will be almost necessary to classify their practices. These may be arranged under the heads of Sickness, Weather, Witchcraft, Dreams, Prophecy and Divination, Ordeals, Poison, Curses. In all these whatever is done is believed to be effected by the mana of spirits and ghosts, acting through, various media, and brought to bear by secret forms of words to which the power to work is given by the names of the spirits or ghosts, or of the living or lifeless things to which this mysterious influence is attached.

(1) Sickness. Any sickness that is serious is believed to be brought about by ghosts or spirits; common complaints such as fever and ague are taken as coming in the course of nature. To say that savages are never ill without supposing a super-natural cause is not true of Melanesians; they make up their minds as the sickness comes whether it is natural or not, and the more important the individual who is sick, the more likely his sickness is to be ascribed to the anger of a ghost whom he has offended, or to witchcraft. No great man would like to be told that he was ill by natural weakness or decay. The sickness is almost always believed to be caused by a ghost, not by a spirit. It happens, indeed, as in the New Hebrides, where spirits are the chief objects of religious regard, that a man knows that he has trespassed on a sacred place belonging to some spirit, or has an ill-wisher who has a spirit for a helper, and supposes therefore when he is ill that a spirit has brought his sickness on him. But generally it is to the ghosts of the dead that sickness is ascribed in the eastern islands as well as in the western; recourse is had to them for aid in causing and removing sickness; and ghosts are believed to inflict sickness not only because some offence, such as a trespass, has been committed against them, or because one familiar with them has sought their aid with sacrifice and spells, but because there is a certain malignity in the feeling of all ghosts towards the living, who offend them by being alive. All human powers which are not merely bodily are believed to be enhanced by death; the ghost therefore of an ill-conditioned powerful man is naturally thought ready to use his increased powers of mischief.

Thus in Florida it is a tindalo, that is, a ghost of power, that causes illness; it is a matter of conjecture which of the known tindalos it may be. Sometimes a person has reason to think, or fancies, that he has offended his dead father, uncle, or brother. In that case no special intercessor is required; the patient himself or one of the family will sacrifice, and beg the tindalo to take the sickness away; it is a family affair. Sometimes a sick man thinks it is his own familiar tindalo, and leaves his house to avoid him. If the cause of sickness is a matter of conjecture, a mane kisu, one who understands these things, a doctor, is called in. He will say that he knows the offended ghost; if it be a child he will say that it has trod on the sacred place, vunuha, of some tindalo whom he calls his own; or else the parents will guess or enquire where the child has been, and will send for the mane kisu who has influence with the tindalo. of that place. The doctor called in will bind upon the patient the leaves belonging to his tindalo, will chew ginger and blow into the patient's ears and on that part of the skull which is soft in infants, will call on the name of the tindalo, and beg him to remove the sickness. When he makes his request, speaking in a low voice, he is said to kokoe liulivuti, to speak, as the word is now used, in prayer. If the sickness continues, another tindalo or another mane kisu is tried. If no conjecture can be made as to the ghost probably offended, any mane kisu, for a fee in money, will undertake to get his own tindalo, who must know, to intercede with the one who is doing the mischief. In some cases it may be a likely guess that some one who has ill-will towards the sufferer has set his tindalo to afflict, as they say to eat, the patient; he then may take money to call off the eating ghost. If he will not do this, another more powerful tindalo may be engaged through another mane kisu, who will prevail over the original assailant and drive him off. While these remedies are being tried the patient either recovers or dies; if he recovers, the doctor under whose treatment he began to mend has the credit and good payment; if he dies the power of the tindalo that has prevailed throughout is established. There is also mixed with this treatment something like the use of medicine, the effect of which, however, is always supposed to depend upon the tindalo engaged. The mane kisu knows certain herbs, and warms them in a cocoa-nut shell over the fire; the steam applied to the patient drives away the pain or the disease. For cough an infusion is drunk, the leaves being thrown away. The doctors also practise massage, kneading, squeezing, and rubbing the body and limbs of the patient. In Ysabel (and no doubt also in Florida) the doctor called in will discover the tindatho who causes the complaint he has to treat, by suspending a stone or heavy ornament at the end of a string which he holds in his hand, and calling over the names of the lately deceased; when the name of him who causes the disease is called the stone swings in answer. Then it remains to ask what shall be given to appease the anger of the ghost—a mash of yams, a fish, a pig, a man. The answer is given in the same way; whatever is desired is offered on the dead man's grave, and the sickness goes.

In Wango in San Cristoval the natives not long ago believed that the ghosts, there called 'adaro, actually fought with one another over the sick with spears. A man would have a grudge against another, and pay a wizard to bring an 'adaro to 'eat' him, to do him mischief. It would become known that he had given a pig, as it might be, to that wizard, and the man whose life was aimed at, or his friends, would go to another wizard, and by a larger fee secure as they hoped a stronger 'adaro for their side. The two ghosts would fight it out, or probably more than one would be engaged on either side; the man would sicken, die, or keep his health, according to the issue of the unseen battle. Ghosts that haunt the sea are believed to shoot men on the reefs or in canoes with fish darted at them invisibly; or if, as often happens, a flying-fish or gar-fish springs from the waves and strikes a man, they say that an 'adaro shoots it: it is no common fish, the man will die. Sick persons are commonly treated with ginger and other roots and leaves, and with water over which a charm has been muttered to give it healing power from an 'adaro.

In Santa Cruz the cause of sickness is an offended duka, ghost or spirit, and the doctor called in is a mendeka, a man with whom is the malete, which corresponds to the more common mana, and who has a duka belonging to himself; for example, at Neula, where Neobla is the duka in vogue, they always send for Neobla's mendeka. The doctor comes and sits by the sick person, expecting the coming of the duka to him. Presently he cries with a loud voice that he is come, and then he gives the reason, supplied him by the duka, why the man is sick, and directs what satisfaction is to be made. The doctor always receives a fee. If the patient dies, the reason

Man fishing shot by a sea-ghost. Native drawing.

given is that some other duka with whom the doctor is not on good terms has been at work; if he recovers he gives a pig for the duka, and a bit of it is put before the stock which represents him. Sometimes an offended duka will shoot a man, and the mendeka will extract the arrow-head, working it down from above into the sick man's foot with sweet herbs and cocoa-nut juice, singing in a low voice and muttering his charms, and finally bringing out a splinter of tree-fern wood from the sole. Sometimes very bitter juice squeezed out of certain leaves is given to the patient to drink, sometimes the treatment of a local pain is to squeeze leaves and herbs upon the part; but it is the malete, and not the natural property of these medicines, that works the cure.

In the Banks' Islands the gismana practised the same arts with his brethren of the west[1]. He worked the cause of pain and disease downwards, and extracted it; he stroked the seat of pain and spat; he sucked out or bit out from the seat of pain a fragment of wood, bone, or leaf: for swellings he chewed certain herbs and leaves and blew, pupsag, upon the place; he used fomentations and poultices of mallow leaves, for example, with some knowledge of the healing and soothing properties in them; he gave the patient to drink water from a hollow in a sacred stone, or water in which stones full of mana for this purpose had been laid, from which probably European medicine came to be called pel mana; and all was done by virtue of the mana conveyed in the charms sung over the remedy employed, songs which were themselves called mana, or in the muttered words, wosag, which took the disease away. Women had a share in the practice of this art; some of them knew the charms by which the soul of a sick child which a ghost was drawing away could be recalled, and the ghost driven off; the woman blowing on the child's eyes and calling the name of the attacking ghost. The gismana by no means confined himself to the care of the sick, all ways of working by means of mana were in his line of practice; women, however, did not practise harmful arts[2]. In the New Hebrides the healing of the sick belongs in Aurora to the gismana, in Lepers' Island to the tangaloe ngovo, in Pentecost to the mata tawaga, to those, that is to say, who have the knowledge of the songs and charms, believed to have come down from Tagaro himself, by which mana is conveyed and applied. In Aurora those who dream have the larger practice. In Pentecost and Lepers' Island the juice of a very young cocoa-nut, on which the doctor has blown, with a charm muttered or sung, is drunk by the patient or rubbed upon him, and water, with mana imparted to it in the same way, is also used. Sickness is generally supposed to be caused by ghosts, but as the sacred places and objects which may be profaned or lightly used belong to spirits, these are believed often to be angry, and to inflict pain and disease. The power of a spirit is also brought by a charm or curse to harm a man; it is natural, therefore, that in the treatment of the sick recourse should be had to spirits, and above all to Tagaro, rather than to ghosts. The name of Tagaro controls both ghosts and spirits. In Pentecost the doctor will forbid some kind of food to the patient, and when he recovers bring him some of it to eat as a proof that he is well. In both islands women know how to relieve pain. In Pentecost the women use leaves as poultices, and when they take them off profess to take away with them the cause of pain—a snake, a lizard, something from the beach; 'but,' says a native who has undergone the treatment, 'no one sees the thing but the women, and the pain remains.' In Lepers' Island the female practitioner rubs the patient downwards with a bunch of leaves, such as she knows to have the proper qualities, singing and muttering her charms. She will work one day upon the head, and go on working downwards day by day, squeezing and rubbing and drawing down the cause of pain, till she produces at last in her bunch of leaves a stone or a bone, or the bit of food perhaps by which the patient has been bewitched. In Pentecost if a man is delirious they say a mae, that snake of mysterious nature, is in his stomach. A doctor will then breathe his charm into a dry cocoa-nut husk which he has set on fire; the patient sits over the smoke, and the snake, which is a ghost or spirit, is driven out.

(2) Weather. In all these islands it is believed that spirits and ghosts have power over the weather; it follows, therefore, that the men who have familiar intercourse with spirits and ghosts are believed to be able to move them to interfere for wind or calm, sunshine or rain, as may be desired. The spirits and ghosts also have imparted power to forms of words, stones, leaves, and other things, which therefore of themselves affect the weather; and there is also a certain natural congruity between some of these things and the effect they produce, which seems to make them suitable vehicles of power. The men, therefore, who have and know these things have with them mana which they can use to benefit or to afflict friends and enemies, and to turn either way as it is made worth their while to turn it. There are everywhere, therefore, in these islands weather-doctors or weather-mongers who can control the aerial powers, and are willing to supply wind, calm, rain, sunshine, famine, and abundance at a price. These were generally also masters of other charms than those which affect the weather, some knew one weather charm and some another; but there were generally in a community enough for all requirements. Their arts once secret are now pretty well known. In Florida the mane nggehe vigona, when a calm was wanted, tied together the leaves appropriate to his vigona and hid them in the hollow of a tree where water was, calling upon the vigona spirit with the proper charm. This process would bring down rain to make the calm. If sunshine was required he tied the appropriate leaves and creeper-vines to the end of a bamboo, and held them over a fire. He fanned the fire with a song to give mana to the fire, and the fire gave mana to the leaves. Then he climbed a tree and fastened the bamboo to the topmost branch; as the wind blew about the flexible bamboo the mana was cast abroad, and the sun shone out. To stop sunshine ginger-leaves were bound tight together with others and kept in the wizard's bag.

In the seafaring life of the Solomon Islands the maker of calms is a valuable citizen. The Santa Cruz people also are great voyagers, and their mendeka wizards control the weather on their expeditions, taking with them the stock which represents their duka, and setting it up in the cabin on the stage of the canoe. The presence of his familiar duka being thus secured, the weather-doctor will undertake to provide fair wind or calm. In the same island to get sunshine the wizard puts up some burnt wood into a tree; to get rain he throws down water at the foot of the stock of Tinota, an ancient duka; to make wind he waves the branch of the tree which has this power; in each case he chants the appropriate charm.

The same things were done and similar methods followed in the Banks' Islands with the mana songs and mana stones[3]. The art is the same in the New Hebrides. To get rain the Aurora gismana puts a tuft of leaves which are mana for the purpose into the hollow of a stone, and upon this some branches of the piper methysticum, used for kava, pounded and crushed; to these he adds the one of his collection of stones which has mana for rain; all is done with the singing of charms with Tagaro's name, and the whole is covered over. The mass ferments, and steam charged with mana goes up and makes clouds and rain. It will not do to pound the pepper too hard, lest the wind should blow too strong. This pepper is very powerful also for weather-making in Lepers' Island. To make a hot sun, the wizards hold branches of the plant, which they have already filled with mana by charms sung over them, over the fire in a house; as they wilt, dry up and burn, so will the land. To make a famine they hang cocoa-nut fronds, yams, and other food over the fire with the pepper branches. For rain they take plants which have much juice in them, and leaves and stalks of the via, the gigantic caladium, and crush them all together with songs to give them mana; then all is put into a basket, and hidden in the hollow of a tree where water lies. To make a calm, leaves of a reed which is very light indeed, or pepper stalks, are cut in lengths and hung up in a tree. All the charms have their power because of Tagaro's name in them.

Together with weather-charms may be classed those used in the Banks' Islands to assist a sow in her first litter of pigs: such as beating her back with branches of a pepper closely resembling that used for kava, strewing the blossoms of the wotaga, Barringtonia, upon her back, laying cocoa-nut fronds on her, breaking a bamboo water-vessel over her back so that the salt-water may run over her, hanging a bag full of native almonds above her head; all being done with the appropriate form of words. Nets also used for the first time are charm id with leaves and the song mana for the purpose. In Lepers' Island when a large new canoe is finished, and is for the first time to be used, a very young cocoa-nut is made mana with a song which bids the canoe be swift, successful in trading, and victrious in fighting, and it is then put on the outrigger. Then they make a short trial of the new canoe, and afterwards start with the conch trumpet and store of mats to trade for pigs. It would be hard indeed to draw a limit to the use of charms which, substantially the same in character with these, assist those who know them or pay for them, or else injure or obstruct their enemies. In prospect of a fight, for example, besides his amulets and stones, a man in the Banks' Islands would strengthen his hand to shoot and kill by drinking an infusion of very bitter herbs and bark; and by chewing other leaves and puffing forth their magic influence would dishearten an approaching enemy.

(3) Witchcraft. The wizards who cure diseases are very often the same men who cause them, the mana derived from spirits and ghosts being in both cases the agent employed; but it often happens that the darker secrets of the magic art are possessed and practised only by those whose power lies in doing harm, and who are resorted to when it is desired to bring evil upon an enemy. Their secrets, like others connected with mana, are passed down from one generation to another, and may be bought. The most common working of this malignant witchcraft is that, so common among savages, in which a fragment of food, bit of hair or nail, or anything closely connected with the person to be injured, is the medium through which the power of the ghost or spirit is brought to bear. Some relic such as a bone of the dead person whose ghost is set to work is, if not necessary, very desirable for bringing his power into the charm; and a stone may have its mana for doing mischief. What is needed is the bringing together of the man who is to be injured and the spirit or ghost who is to injure him; this can be done when something which pertains to the man's person can be used, such as a hair, a nail, a leaf with which he has wiped the perspiration from his face, and with equal effect when a fragment of the food which has passed into the man forms the link of union. Hence in Florida when a scrap from a man's meal could be secreted and thrown into the vunuha haunted by the tindalo ghost, the man would certainly be ill; and in the New Hebrides when the mae snake carried away a fragment of food into the place sacred to a spirit, the man who had eaten of the food would sicken as the fragment decayed. It was for this reason a constant care to prevent anything that might be used in witchcraft from falling into the hands of ill-wishers; it was the regular practice to hide hair and nail-parings, and to give the remains of food most carefully to the pigs[4]. In the Banks' Islands the fragment of food, or ever it may be, by which a man is charmed is called garata; this was made up by the wizard with a bit of human bone, and smeared with a magic decoction in which it would rot away. Or the garata would be burnt, and while it was burning the wizard sang his charm; as the garata was consumed, the wizard burning it by degrees day after day, the man from whom it came sickened, and would die, the ghost of the man whose bone was burning would take away his life. If then any man who knows he has an enemy has reason himself to think that something has been taken from him, or his friends hear that a garata from him is in some wizard's hands, he or they will give money to get the fragment back; and the enemy again and his friends will give more to secure the continuance of the charm. In Aurora the fragment of food is made up with certain leaves; as these rot and stink the man dies. In Lepers' Island the garata is boiled, together with certain magical substances, in a clam shell with charms which call on Tagaro. It is evident that no one who intends to bring mischief to a man by a fragment of his food will partake of that food himself, because by doing so he would bring the mischief also on himself. Hence a native offering even a single banana to a visitor will bite the end of it before he gives it, and a European giving medicine to a sick native gives confidence by taking a little first himself[5].

Another charm is common to both eastern and western islands, which is called in the Banks' Islands talamatai. A bit of human bone, a fragment of coral, a splinter of wood, or of an arrow by which a man has died, is bound up with the leaves which have mana for the purpose, with the mana song; by this means the power of the ghost is bound into the charm, and the talamatai is secretly planted in the path along which the person at whom the charm is aimed must pass, so that the virtue of it may spring out and strike him with disease. The tying and binding tight of the talamatai while the charm is chanted is what gives the magic power, and if the fibre to make the string is rolled in making it upon the skull of a former practiser of the art, its efficacy will be the greater[6]. The talamatai was made but lately in Yaluwa in Saddle Island; but the wizard who tied the last brought out all his magic apparatus before the people of his village and smashed it with an axe. In Lepers' Island the same thing is called rango.

Another remarkable engine of mischief is called in the Banks' Islands tamatetiqa, ghost-shooter. Since this is used also in Florida it may be supposed to be common to all these islands. A bit of bamboo is stuffed with leaves, a dead man's bone, and other magical ingredients, the proper mana song being chanted over it. Fasting in the Banks' Islands, but not apparently in the Solomon Islands, adds power to this and other charms. The man who has made or bought one of these holds it in his hand, with the open end of the bamboo covered with his thumb, till he sees his enemy; then he lets out the magic influence and shoots his man. Some years ago in Mota a man named Isvitag waiting with his ghost-shooter in his hand for the man he meant to shoot, let fly too soon, just as a woman with a child upon her hip stepped across the path. It was his sister's child, his nearest of kin, and he was sure he had hit it full. To save it he put the contents of the bamboo into water, to prevent inflammation of the invisible wound, and the child took no hurt. A striking story was told me by Edwin Sakalraw of Ara of what he saw himself. A man in that islet was known to have prepared a tamatetiqa, and had declared his intention of shooting his enemy with it at an approaching feast; but he would not tell who it was that he meant to kill, lest some friend of his should buy back the power of the charm from the wizard who had prepared it. To add force to the ghostly discharge he fasted so many days before the feast began that when the day arrived he was too weak to walk. When the people had assembled, he had himself carried out and set down at the edge of the open space where the dancing would go on. All the men there knew that there was one of them he meant to shoot; no one knew whether it was himself. There he sat as the dancers rapidly passed him circling round, a fearful object, black with dirt and wasted to a skeleton with fasting, his tamatetiqa within his closed fingers stopped with his thumb, his trembling arm stretched out, and his bleared eyes watching for his enemy. Every man trembled inwardly as he danced by him, and the attention of the whole crowd was fixed on him. After a while, bewildered and dazed with his own weakness, the rapid movements of the dancers, and the noise, he mistook his man; he raised his arm and lifted his thumb. The man he aimed at fell at once upon the ground, and the dancers stopped. Then he saw that he had failed, and that the wrong man was hit, and his distress was great; but the man who had fallen and was ready to expire, when he was made to understand that no harm was meant him, took courage again to live, and presently revived. No doubt he would have died if the mistake had not been known.

There is a strange method of magical attack used at Savo, and known at Florida, called vele, a word which means to pinch. The man who has the secret of this takes in a bag upon his back the leaves and other things in which mana for this purpose resides, and seeks to find the man alone he goes to injure. When he finds him, he seizes him, bites his neck, stuffs the magic leaves down his throat, and knocks him on the head with an axe, but not so as to kill him. He then leaves the man, who goes home, relates what has happened, and dies after two days, If the attack is made in the night, the man cannot tell who his assailant was; but the vele is used also in broad daylight, and the assailant does not conceal himself, but tells his name and bids his victim make it known. As he goes home the charm makes him forget it. A strong man will not be attacked in this way. The same thing is done in Guadalcanar, and the people of Saa at the extremity of Malanta hear of it at Marau Sound by the name of hele. At Lepers' Island, in the New Hebrides, the vequa very much resembles this. The wizard overcomes his victim with his charms, so that the man cannot distinctly see him or defend himself; then he shoots him with a little bow and arrow made of some charmed material, and strikes him with the arrow. The man does not know what is done to him, but he goes home, falls ill, and dies; he can remember nothing to tell his friends, but they see the wound in his head where he was struck, and in his side where he was shot, and know what has happened to him.

The practice of magic arts for mischief is in the Banks' Islands and in Lepers' Island called gaqaleva, and is always dreaded in case of sickness. In Lepers' Island the wizards who practise it are believed to have the power of changing their shape. The friends of any one suffering from sickness are always afraid lest the wizard who has caused the disease should come in some form, as of a blow-fly, and strike the patient; they sit with him therefore and use counter-charms to guard him, and drive carefully away all flies, lest his enemy should come in that form. Some men by gaqaleva can turn into a shark and eat an enemy, or more commonly some one whom his enemy has hired the wizard to destroy. The story of Tarkeke shews this belief in Aurora also, where, as in Lepers' Island and in Pentecost, magicians turn into eagles and owls as well as sharks. This power is not always used for malicious ends, as was shewn by Molitavile at Lepers' Island. A vessel 'recruiting labour,' called by the natives a 'thief-ship,' had carried away some people from the island, and their friends were very anxious to know what had become of them. Molitavile, who had the power of changing his form, undertook to turn himself into an eagle and fly after the vessel. He told all the people of the village in the first place to keep away from that side of the open space between the houses from whence he would take his flight. Then he entered into a house decorated with cocoa-nut fronds, and they saw no more; but they knew that he drank the kava he had prepared, and then lay down till his soul went out of him in the form of a bird and followed the ship. After a while he emerged from the house, and told the people that all who had been carried away were well but one, who was dead. Long afterwards, when some of those who were then on board returned, they said that he had brought back the truth, one of them by that time had died.

(4) Dreams. The native belief as to the nature of dreams, and as to the part played by the soul of men in dreams, is a subject of enquiry which belongs rather to the general question as to the conceptions the people have of the nature of the soul itself and of human life; but the use of dreaming as a branch of the practice of magic comes appropriately into view in this place. In Maewo, Aurora, in the New Hebrides, the dreaming-man, tatua qoreqore, who may be also in other ways a gismana in his use of supernatural power, is in request in cases of sickness. In an ordinary case, when it is supposed that a ghost is the cause of the complaint, the friends of the sick man send for the professional dreamer and give him now tobacco, as formerly they gave mats, to find out what ghost has been offended, and to make it up with him. He sleeps, and in his dream goes to the place where the sick man has been working; there he meets some one, like an old man it is likely, of small size, who really is a ghost, and he learns from him what is his name. The ghost tells him that the sick man as he was working has encroached upon his ground, the place he haunts as his own, and that to punish him he has taken away his soul and impounded it in a magic fence in the garden. The dreamer begs for the return of the soul, and asks pardon on behalf of the sick man, who meant no disrespect; the ghost pulls up the fence in which the soul is enclosed, and lets it out; the man of course recovers. These dreamers are able also to visit Malanga, an abode of the dead. Sometimes if a child is sick it is supposed that there is some one in Malanga drawing away its soul. The conjecture is that the soul of the infant is in fact that of some one who has died and gone to Malanga, but has afterwards desired to come back to earth, and has been born as the infant that now is sick; and, moreover, that the mother in Malanga, not wishing to lose the society of her child there, is drawing back the re-born infant's soul. The dreamer having received his fee goes in a dream to Malanga, and intercedes with the mother there; he gets back the soul, and the child recovers. In Saa also in the Solomon Islands, if a child starts in its sleep it is believed that some ghost is snatching away what must be called in translation its shadow. A wizard doctor undertakes to go in sleep and bring it back; he dreams and goes; if those who have taken the 'shadow' let him take it back the child recovers, but if the child dies the dreamer reports that they would not let him come near them. In the same place when a thing is lost a wizard is engaged to find it in a dream. In Lepers' Island in case of theft or of any hidden crime some wizard who understands how to do it drinks kava, and so throws himself into a magic sleep. When he wakes he declares that he has seen the culprit and gives his name.

(5) Prophecy. The knowledge of future events is believed to be conveyed to the people by a spirit or a ghost speaking with the voice of a man, one of the wizards, who is himself unconscious while he speaks. In Florida the men of a village would be sitting in their kiala, canoe-house, and discussing some undertaking, an expedition probably to attack some unsuspecting village. One among them, known to have his own tindalo ghost of prophecy, would sneeze and begin to shake, a sign that the tindalo had entered into him; his eyes would glare, his limbs twist, his whole body be convulsed, foam would burst from his lips; then a voice, not his own, would be heard in his throat, allowing or disapproving of what was proposed. Such a man used no means of bringing on the ghost; it came upon him, as he believed himself, at its own will, its mana overpowered him, and when it departed it left him quite exhausted. Still a man to whom this happened, when he had a reputation as a prophet, would be employed to assist in the council and make that a branch of his profession as a wizard. The description of prophecy given in San Cristoval is identical with the foregoing. In Saa, men who are possessed with a lio'a prophesy of things to come. In Lepers' Island it is believed that the spirit Tagaro puts his power as a spirit into a man, manag, so that he speaks what otherwise he could not, in the way of foretelling things to come, as well as of making known what is concealed. These prophets are consulted when a new gamali, the house of the Suqe Society, is to be built, to know if there will be peace or war; because a number of people assemble for such a purpose, and if there is danger of fighting they will not leave their homes.

(6) Divination. There are many methods by which ghosts and spirits are believed to make known to men who use them the secret things which the unassisted human intelligence could not find out; and some of these hardly need perhaps the intervention of a wizard. These methods of divination differ very little in the various islands. In the Solomon Islands, in Florida for instance, when an expedition has started in a fleet of canoes, there is sometimes a hesitation whether they shall proceed, or a question in what direction they shall go. A mane kisu divines; he declares that he has felt a tindalo come on board, for one side of the canoe has been pressed down; he asks therefore the question, 'Shall we go? shall we go there?' If the canoe rocks the answer is in the affirmative, if it lies steady it is negative. When a man is sick and it is desired to know what tindalo is eating him, the mane kisu who knows how to divine by paluduka is sent for. He comes, bringing some one with him to assist, and the two sit down, the wizard in front, the assistant at his back, and they hold a stick or bamboo by the two ends. The wizard begins to slap with one hand the end of the bamboo he holds, calling one after another the names of men not very long deceased; when he names the one who is afflicting the sick man the stick of itself becomes violently agitated. Another method of divination is called gogondo. The operator who knows this art takes leaves of the dracsena equal in number to the tindalo ghosts he knows, and with them other leaves, vines of creepers, and bark belonging to each tindalo, in which the mana of each resides. With these he goes to the place sacred to his gogondo, and the people interested assemble. Then he ties the leaves to his own body, and begins to split each dracæna leaf down the middle. Each leaf answers to a tindalo, and if a leaf splits crooked it is the tindalo answering to it that is eating the sick man. The same gogondo is used to see whether a sick man will live or die; if the leaf representing the patient splits clean he will recover, if crooked he will die. In Motlav and the other Banks' Islands they divined by means of a bamboo into which a ghost had entered, and which pointed of itself to the thief or other culprit to be discovered. A common method of divination in the Banks' Islands is called so ilo, and is used to enquire where a lost person or thing is to be found, who is the thief, whether an absent friend is alive or dead. The hands are lifted over the head and rubbed together with a magic song calling on a ghost. The sign is given by the cracking of the joints; when the question is of life or death, if the thumbs or shoulders crack the man still lives, if the elbows crack he is dead. So if a man sneezes he will so ilo to know who it is that curses him; he revolves his fists one over the other and then throws out his arms; the revolving is the question, and the answer is given as he asks, 'Is it So-and-So?' and his elbows crack. Another method of divination was occasionally in use at Motlav in the same group. After a burial they would take a bag and put make, Tahitian chestnut, and scraped banana into it. Then a new bamboo some ten feet long was fitted to the bag and tied with one end in the mouth of it, and the bag was laid upon the grave, the men engaged in the affair holding the bamboo in their hands. The names of the recently dead were then called, and the men holding the bamboo felt the bag become heavy with the entrance of the ghost, which then went up from the bag into the hollow of the bamboo. The bamboo and its contents being carried into the village, the names of dead men were called over to find out whose ghost it was: when wrong names were called the free end of the bamboo moved from side to side while the other was held tight, at the right name the end moved briskly round and round. Then questions were put to the enclosed ghost, 'Who stole such a thing? Who was guilty in such a case?' The bamboo pointed of itself at the culprit if present, or made signs as before when names were called. This bamboo they say would run about with a man who had it lying only on the palms of his hands; but, it is remarked by my native informant, though it moved in men's hands it never moved when no one touched it.

(7) Ordeals. To clear or to convict a man accused of guilt there are ordeals managed by men with whom the magic instruments, and the knowledge of the charms by which they can be used, remain. There are several ordeals used at Saa which may stand as examples from the Solomon Islands. One is called the dau he'u, stone working, the knowledge of the use of which is passed down from man to man with the magic stone which is employed. An accused person goes to the man who has the stone and engages him to undergo the ordeal. The people assemble and the accused denies the charge, and he submits to the ordeal through his compurgator. The latter heats the stone and throws it from hand to hand; if his hands are not burnt the accused is pronounced innocent, and pays a porpoise-tooth fee. There is much preparation with a very young cocoa-nut, the flower of sugar-cane and chanted charms to make the proceeding saka, hot, with super-natural power. It is probable that sometimes the accusers make their preparations also with a bribe. Another consists in the application of a lighted bundle of cocoa-nut fronds to the legs of the accused, who stands up for it or is tied between two posts. This is done with charms by the man who manages it, and also gets his fee. In another the accused swallows a charmed stone heated by the wizard employed, and is innocent if he takes no harm. In a fourth the accused eats a bit of a cocoa-nut which has been made very saka for the purpose, and broken in pieces; if he is guilty he falls afterwards from a tree or some other accident befalls him, or he pines away. Another method is to take almonds from a sacred place and mash them with a charm; the accused eats and is judged guilty if he is the worse for it. There is again a very ancient spear at Saa, very saka, full of magic power, called usu, dog, because it has dogs' teeth upon it. This is placed on the head of the accused and he says, 'If I did the thing, may I die with this spear;' if he is guilty he sickens and dies with the power of the spear. There is also a very sacred song, very saka. The wizard who knows it sings it, and the accused man says, 'Well, that song is for me; if I did that let me and my children suffer.' Finally, there is the alligator ordeal, used in the passage between Mala Paina and Mala Masiki, where the reptiles are very numerous. A man accused of serious crime is taken there; the wizard who manages the ordeal calls the alligators with his charms, and the accused who is confident in his innocence and in the wizard's power dares to swim across. No one will hold him guilty if he escapes. In this ordeal also it is sometimes not the accused, but the man who knows the charm who submits himself to the test. In Lepers' Island a man to prove his innocence will submit to be shot at with arrows; if he be hit he is of course guilty; if he be innocent, Tagaro will protect him, just as he protects in fighting any young man whom he preserves that he may be prosperous and great. The favour of Tagaro in either case is sought for with the appropriate charm.

(8) Poison. To the best of my knowledge the Melanesian people were not acquainted with the use of any substance which, when taken with food or drink, would be injurious by its natural properties, until they learnt the use of arsenic from Queensland. Returned 'labourers' brought that back with them, and used it with fatal effect in the same way in which native poisoners used their own magical preparations, by mixing it in food; and it is more than probable that the certain and fatal effect was believed then to be due to the powerful magical and not natural powers with which it was endued. At any rate, if what native magicians employed in poisoning food had any naturally noxious qualities (which is not denied), it was not any naturally noxious property which was expected to produce the injurious result; nor when mischief followed was it ascribed to the natural quality of what had been administered; the magic charms had in native belief the power of poisoning, and communicated it to the preparation which was mixed with the food. No doubt the materials over which the poison charm was sung were such as seemed to have a certain congruity with the effect to be produced. The secrets of poison-making have not become known; but in Florida it is believed by the people that the liver of a black snake dried in the sun or over a fire was the chief ingredient in the poisons which were used there. There were certain persons who knew the art, and were hired to poison with maomao, made with the mana power of the tindalo ghost belonging to the sorcerer employed, and mixed in the food of the man whose life was aimed at. The Savo people were great poisoners; Florida men who visited them were careful what they ate. The effect of the poison was that one who had taken it fell sick, vomited, and afterwards died. The practice of this art was dangerous to the poisoner; a known poisoner was put to death in Florida, and so were many innocent persons suspected or accused. In the Banks' Islands to poison was to vangan pal, to feed by stealth. The Ureparapara people in that group had the repute of being poisoners, others would get poison from thence; in Mota no one knew the art. In Lepers' Island poison is called, by a parallel expression, aruwana; all that I have learnt of it is that the preparation of it is very secret, and that it is made with charms in the same way with the garata above described. In fact the correspondence between the native poison and the charm that works destruction through a fragment of food is complete: in the one case a portion of the food already eaten by the person to be injured is mixed with certain magically powerful substances; in the other the magically powerful substances are mixed in the food to be eaten. In either case, according to the native belief, the mischief was caused by magic. A man eating away from his closest friends was in equal fear lest he should be charmed through a fragment of his food or poisoned by what might be put into his food. The poisoned arrows, of which more hereafter, have never been found to have been prepared with anything which could be properly said to be poison; and undoubtedly the dreaded power of such arrows to give fatal wounds was by the natives believed to be due to the magic charms with which they were made, and to the dead man's bone with which they were pointed.

(9) Tapu and Curses. The word taboo is one of the very few that the languages of the Pacific Ocean have given to the English language; and something of its meaning therefore may be supposed to be understood. But the tapu or tambu of Melanesia is not so conspicuous in native life as the tapu of Polynesia; and it differs also perhaps in this, that it never signifies any inherent holiness or awfulness, but always a sacred and unapproachable character which is imposed. This is not strictly accurate as regards the word in the Solomon Islands, where everything connected with a ghost of worship, tindalo, lio'a, or 'adaro, is tambu of itself; it is accurate as concerns the Banks' Islands and New Hebrides, where what is inherently sacred is rongo or sapuga. But still in cases where the English word taboo can be employed there is always in Melanesia human sanction and prohibition. Some thing, action, or place is made tambu or tapu by one who has the power to do it, any one whose standing among the people gives him confidence to lay this character upon it. The power at the back of the tapu or tambu is that of the ghost or spirit in whose name, or in reliance upon whom, it is pronounced; for the tapu is a prohibition with a curse expressed or implied. Thus in Florida a chief will forbid something to be done or touched under a penalty; he has said, for example, tambu hangalatu) any one who violates his prohibition must pay him a hundred strings of money; it seems to the European a proof of the power of the chief; but to the native the power of the chief, in this and in everything else, rests on the persuasion that the chief has his tindalo at his back. The sense of this in the particular case is remote, the apprehension of angering the chief is present and effective, but the ultimate sanction is the power of the tindalo. If a common man were to take upon himself to tambu anything he might, people would think that he would not do it unless he knew that he had the power to do it; they would watch, and if any one who violated his tambu were to fall sick, he would be recognized at once as one who had a powerful tindalo, and he would rise. Each tindalo has his special leaf, and a man will set his tambu with the leaf of his tindalo as a mark; men do not always know whose leaf it is, but they know that they have to deal with a tindalo, not only with a man, if they disregard the mark. The tambu is too convenient an institution to drop when the original sanction of it has ceased to operate; a native Christian teacher therefore does not hesitate, as a man of position in society, to set a tambu; thieves he says are afraid of a man if not of a tindalo. In the Banks' Islands there is a minor prohibition, soloi, as well as the more solemn tapu, in which probably there is no direct reference to a super-natural sanction. But a man by virtue of the supernatural mana which accrues to him through his association with a spirit will va-tapu, separate from common use, a path, trees, part of the sea-beach, a canoe, a fishing-net, and no one would be surprised if sickness fell at once upon any one who should break the tapu. A person of no particular distinction would set his soloi before the trees or garden, the fruit and produce of which he wished to reserve for some feast, and intruders would know at any rate that he carried his bow and arrows. Stronger than any individual sanction was that of the secret societies called Tamate; each had its leaf, and any member of one could set the leaf of his society as a mark, to disregard which would stir the anger of all the members. The payment of a pig or money would appease the individual or society whose prohibition had been despised.

It is evident that a tambu approaches to,a curse, when it is a prohibition resting on the invocation of an unseen power. Thus at Saa, a few years ago, the chief forbade the young people of the place to go to school, with a curse by the name of a lio'a, a ghost of power. In such a case if native ideas only had prevailed, money, pigs, or valuable gifts would have been sufficient to toto, make it up with, the chief, and he would have been willing to toto 'akalo (page 137), set the matter right by a sacrifice to the lio'a; but in this case the Christian teachers, though really in some danger of their lives, refused to acknowledge the power of the lio'a and of the curse, and would give nothing to the chief, who thereupon professed himself quite unable to remove the curse.

A curse by way of asseveration is very common in Florida, and no doubt in the other Solomon Islands. A man will deny an accusation by his forbidden food, butonggu! by some tindalo, Daula, the ghostly frigate-bird, or Bagea, the ghostly shark. The Florida people, and their neighbours probably, were sufficiently advanced to garnish their conversation with profane and filthy swearing, even before 'contact with civilization' put into their mouths those words which are too often the first they learn of English. I am not aware of the existence of this habit in the Banks' Islands. The more serious curse there is to vagona, to make into a tangle, to prohibit easy access or procedure, under the sanction of a spirit's power; to swear therefore by the name of some ghost or spirit is to vava vagogonag, that is, to speak making a supernatural power to intervene, the withdrawal of which can only be effected by a sufficient offering to appease the layer of the curse, who will proceed to satisfy the being invoked. To curse in the sense of expressing a wish for mischief, with a mental if not a verbal reference to a supernatural power, is to vivnag. Such may be called the formula used in pouring water into the native oven (page 147), and such a curse is supposed to be the cause of sneezing. The milder forms are those whereby a troublesome or impertinent request or remark is met; 'Iniko o suri tamate, you are a dead man's bone'; and by what they call sending off, varoivog, to certain trees which have something of a sacred character, vawo mele! on a cycas, vawo aru! on a casuarina, vawo poga! forms which mean not much more than 'you be hanged!'

  1. One of our native mission agents in Fiji assured me very earnestly that he had the power of expelling disease-causing spirits, and he gave me a minute description of his treatment. He passed his hands over the patient's body till he detected the spirit by a peculiar fluttering sensation in his finger ends. He then endeavoured to bring it down to one of the extremities, a foot or hand. Much patience and care were required, because these spirits are very cunning, and will double back and hide themselves in the trunk of the body if you give them a chance. "And even," he said, "when you have got the demon into a leg or an arm which you can grasp with your fingers, you must take care or he will escape you. He will lodge in the joints, and hide himself among the bones. Hard indeed it is to get him out of a joint! But when you have drawn him down to a finger or a toe, you must pull him out with a sudden jerk, and throw him far away, and blow after him lest he should return."'—Rev. L. Fison.
  2. 'They have a nice woman or two on the island (Mota) who are credited with a knowledge of bone-setting. One is a sensible woman, an old friend of mine, so I went for her and set her to work. She pokes and pulls about, and manages to get the bone into its place.'—Rev. J. Palmer. The extreme dislike of natives, of the Banks' Islands at least, to washing when they are sick does not seem to have any superstitious origin; they dread a chill.
  3. As above, page 184. 'There was a large shell filled with earth, and a rounded oblong stone standing up in it, covered with red ochre, the whole thing surrounded by sticks, a sort of fence with a creeper twined in and out. I innocently asked my friend what this was; "Me vil goro o Ian nan wa vus" he answered, "the wind is fenced or bound round, lest it blow hard." I asked whether the wind would not blow hard, and he answered "No, not while that lasts. When it rots then it can blow again."'—Rev. J. Palmer.
  4. There is little doubt that the common practice of retiring into the sea or a river has its origin in the belief that water is a bar to the use of excrement in charms. It is remarkable that at Mota, where clefts in rocks are used, no doubt also for security, the word used is tas, which means sea.
  5. 'He (Soga in Bugotu) was quite willing to try (quinine and brandy), so I proceeded to mix it solemnly before them all. Then ensued a curious scene. "Taste it," said Hugo. This I did, and he followed suit, and then all Soga's people had a little sip served out in a shell. This was to show there was no harm in the medicine.'—Bishop Selwyn.
  6. According to the Mota expression they bind, we vil, a talamatai, and pour, we wuro, over a garata.