CHAPTER V. GODS INFERIOR, OR HOUSEHOLD GODS.
1. ALOIMASINA - Child of the Moon.
This was the name of a household god, and seen in the moon. On the appearance of the new moon all the members of the family called out: "Child of the moon, you have come." They assembled also, presented offerings of food, had a united feast, and joined in the prayer:
"Oh, child of the moon!
Keep far away
Disease and death."
They also prayed thus before leaving the house to go to battle:
"Oh, child of the moon!
Bury up your hollows
And stumps of trees
And lumpy stones
For our running at ease."
2. APELESA - Sacred fulness.
1. In one family this god was incarnate in the turtle. While one of the family dared not partake, he would help a neighbour to cut up and cook one; only while he was doing that, he had a bandage tied over his mouth lest some embryo turtle should slip down his throat, grow up, and cause his death.
2. In another family Apelesa spoke at times through an old man. When an oven of food was opened the first basket was hung up on the outside of one of the posts of the house for the god. If the rats, or a dog, or any hungry mortal took it in the night, it was supposed that Apelesa chose to come in that form for his offering. He was also considered the guardian of the family, and if any other gods came about he frightened them away.
3. In another family a woman called Alaiava, or means of entertainment, was priestess of Apelesa. She prayed at parturition times, and in cases of severe illness. Her usual mode of acting the doctor was, first of all, to order down all the cocoa-nut leaf window-blinds of one end of the house. She then went into the darkened place. Presently that end of the house shook as if by an earthquake, and when she came out she declared what the disease was, and ordered corresponding treatment; the result was that, "some recovered, and some died."
In this family the first basket of cooked food was also sacred to the god, but their custom was to take it and hang it up in the large house of the village where passing travellers were accustomed to call and rest. No one of the village dared to touch that basket without risking the wrath of the god. Any passing stranger, however, was as welcome to partake as if he had been specially sent for it by Apelesa.
3. ASOMUA - First Day.
This was a household god, and particularly useful to the family in detecting and telling out the name of the thief when anything was missed. He was called first day, as it was supposed that he existed in the world before mortals.
4. LEATUALOA - The long god, or the centipede.
This was the name of a god seen in the centipede. A tree near the house was the residence of the creature. When any one of the family was ill, he went out with a fine mat and spread it under the tree, and there waited for the centipede to come down. If it came down and crawled under the mat, that was a sign that the sick person was to be covered over with mats and buried. If, however, it crawled on the top of the mat, that was a sign of recovery.
5. O LE AUMA - The red liver.
This family god was seen, or incarnate, in the wild pigeon. If any visitor happened to roast a pigeon while staying there, some member of the household would pay the penalty by being done up in leaves, as if ready to be baked, and carried and laid in the cool oven for a time, as an offering to show their unabated regard to Auma.
The use of the reddish-seared bread-fruit leaf for any purpose was also insulting to this deity. Such leaves were in common use as plates on which to hand a bit of food from one to another, but that particular family dared not use them under a penalty of being seized with rheumatic swellings, or an eruption all over the body called tangosusu, and resembling chicken-pox.
6. IULAUTALO - Ends of the taro leaf.