CHAPTER IV. GODS SUPERIOR - WAR AND GENERAL VILLAGE GODS.
1. AITU LANGI, or Gods of heaven.
1. These gods were supposed to have fallen from the heavens at the call of a blind man to protect his son from a cannibal chief. They were scattered over several villages, but did not move about in the bodies of mortals. A large temple was erected to one of them in which there were ten seats on which sat the principal chiefs. A large shell was the only visible representation of the god, and in time of war it was carefully consulted. If it stood on end and made an unusual noise they went to battle cheerfully; if, however, it only murmured what they imagined to be "Go back, go back," there was no fighting that day. Tupai was the name of the high priest and prophet. He was greatly dreaded. His very look was poison. If he looked at a cocoa-nut tree it died, and if he glanced at a bread-fruit tree it also withered away.
2. Aitu langi was the name of a village god in another place, and supposed to be incarnate in the owl. If, when going to fight, an owl flew before, it was a good sign; but if across the road or backwards they returned immediately.
2. ALII TU, or The God who stands.
This god was seen in the Ve'a, or rail (Rallus pectoralis). The flight of this bird was also observed during war. If it flew before, it was a good omen; if otherwise they went back disconcerted.
3. AVE I LE TALA, Or Take to the end of the house.
This was the name of an accoucheur god, whose priest went, when sent for, and prayed for the safety of the patient. This god is specially noted as having predicted the arrival of a powerful foreign god, who was to eat up all the gods of Samoa except one, and that was himself; and then he added pathetically through the priest to the family where he was supposed to reside, "When the great god comes, do not you all leave me, but let two still keep aloof and stand by me." On the introduction and rapid spread of Christianity many said, "The prediction of Ave i le tala has come true."
4. FONGE AND TOAFA.
1. These were the names of two oblong smooth stones which stood on a raised platform of loose stones inland of one of the villages. They were supposed to be the parents of Saato, a god who controlled the rain. When the chiefs and people were ready to go off for weeks to certain places in the bush for the sport of pigeon-catching, offerings of cooked taro and fish were laid on the stones, accompanied by prayers for fine weather and no rain. Any one who refused an offering to the stones was frowned upon; and in the event of rain was blamed and punished for bringing down the wrath of the fine-weather god, and spoiling the sports of the season.
2. Persons going to search for bush yams in time of scarcity gave a yam to the stones as a thank-offering, supposing that these gods caused the yams to grow, and could lead them to the best places for finding such edible roots.
3. Any one passing by casually with a basket of cooked food would stop and lay a morsel on the stones.
4. When such offerings were eaten in the night by dogs or rats, it was supposed that the god chose to become incarnate for the time being in the form of such living creatures.
5. FANONGA, Destruction.
1. This was the name of a war-god, and supposed to be incarnate in the Samoan owl (Strix delicatula). In time of war, offerings of food were presented to a pet one which was kept for the purpose. If it flew about above while the troops were walking along below that was a good omen; but if it flew away in the direction of the enemy it was supposed to have left the one party and gone to join the other, and therefore a calamity.
2. At the beginning of the annual fish festivals, the chiefs and people of the village assembled round the opening of the first oven, and give the first fish to the god.
3. A dead owl found under a tree in the settlement was the signal for all the village to assemble at the place, burn their bodies with firebrands, and beat their foreheads with stones till the blood flowed, and so they expressed their sympathy and condolence with the god over the calamity "by an offering of blood." He still lived, however, and moved about in all the other existing owls of the country.
6. FAAMALU, Shade.
1. The name of a village god, and represented by a trumpet-shell. On the month for annual worship all the people met in the place of public gatherings with heaps of cooked food. First there were offerings and prayers to the god to avert calamities and give prosperity; then they feasted with and before their god, and after that any strangers present might eat.
At the same settlement a marine deity called Tamauanuu, or Plenty for the land, was worshipped at the same time. On that day no one dared to swim on his back off the settlement, or eat a cocoa-nut. Any one transgressing would have to go to the beach and beat his forehead with stones till the blood flowed, so as to prevent his being devoured by a shark the next time he went to fish.
In time of war Faamalu was also represented by a fish, the movements of which were watched. If it was seen to swim briskly they went to battle cheerfully; but if it turned round now and then on its back that was a veto on fighting.
Faamalu was also seen in a cloud or shade. If a cloud preceded them in going to battle they advanced courageously; if, however, the clouds were all behind they were afraid.