CHAPTER IV. GODS SUPERIOR - WAR AND GENERAL VILLAGE GODS.
4. The same name was given to a god who predicted in war, sickness, and family events. In sickness the people of the village confessed crimes, and prayed that they might be stepped over or forgiven. He was supposed to dwell in the mountain, and any part of it sufficed as a confessional.
There was a priest also who, when he prayed to la'ala'a, became possessed, told the cause of disease, and forbade the evil conduct of the suffering culprit.
12. LAA MAOMAO - The great step.
This is one of the names of the rainbow, which was a representative of a war god of several villages. If, when going to battle, a rainbow sprang up right before them and across the path, or across the course of the canoes at sea, the troops and the fleet would return. The same if the rainbow arch, or long step, of the god was seen behind them. If, however, it was sideways they went on with spirit, thinking the god was marching along with them and encouraging them to advance.
13. MAO MA ULI - Mistake and Black.
Two teeth of the sperm whale, and said to have come from Fiji, were so named, and represented the war gods of a large village. They were kept in a cave, and when the people went to fight a priest remained behind to pray for success and watch and report the position of the teeth. If they lay east and west it was a good omen, but if they turned over and lay north and south it was a sign of defeat.
14. MATUU - Heron, or "Andrea sacra."
The heron was the incarnation of a war god on the island of Manono. If it flew before the troops that was a good sign, but the reverse if it flew across the path.
A story is told of Heron and his brother Destruction. They cooked some food one day, but it was not half done. The enraged family set upon the two. Destruction had his neck broken by a stick thrown at him; but Heron escaped by having his neck pulled long, as it is to this day.
1. This was the name of one of the great land gods, in opposition to Tangaloa, the god of the heavens. The root of the word is the name of a tree - "Cananga odorata" - the yellow flowers of which are highly fragrant. A stone was his representative in one village, on which passing travellers laid down a scented wreath or necklace as an offering to Moso.
2. In another place Moso's representative was a large wooden bowl, decorated with white shells, and called Lipi, or sudden death, as described under Le Fe'e, No. 8. The priest received offerings from the injured, and, in lieu of them, prayed to Moso with loud crying and forced tears to curse with sudden death the unknown thief or other injurer. "Oh Moso! make haste, show your power, send down to the lower regions, sweep away like a flood, may they never see the light of another day." These were the usual imprecations shrieked out over the bowl.
3. One of the kings of the district of Atua was supposed to be a man and move about among mortals in the daytime; but at night he was Moso, and away among the gods.
4. Moso was also a household god in some families. In one he was incarnate as a man. He helped himself to food of any kind from the plantations of his neighbours, and, if chased, suddenly disappeared; and hence they considered he was a god, and prayed to him and laid down offerings.
5. In another family Moso was said to appear, but only one old man could discern him when he came. A visit was known by the old man shouting out, "Your excellency! Your excellency has come!" and some such chief's language. Then would follow a conversation between the old man and the god, all through the lips of the old impostor himself; and then the family would hear of some new house, or canoe, or food, or marriage, or something else that was wanted.
6. Moso also appeared in one family in the form of a pet pigeon called the Tu (Phlegoenas Stairi). When food was brought in, no water was to be spilled on the doorstep. It would make the protecting god Tu angry, and cause him to go off.
In another family he was incarnate in the domestic fowl, and if any of them ate a piece of fowl the consequence was delirium and death.
In another family Moso was incarnate in the cuttle-fish, and none of them dared to eat one.
Another family had Moso incarnate with them in a creeper bird called the Fuia (Sturnoides atrifusca). If it came about in the morning or the evening it was a sign that their prayers were accepted. If it did not come Moso was supposed to be angry. The bird did not appear at noon owing to the glare of the sun. The priest interpreted to the family the meaning of the chirps as his inclination or fancy dictated.
7. Long Moso was the name of another family god. The turtle and the mullet were sacred to him, and eaten only by the priest. The family prayed to him before the evening meal.