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.

To this family god the ends of leaves and other things were considered sacred, and not to be handled or used in any way. In daily life it was no small trouble to this particular household to cut off the ends of all the taro, bread-fruit, and cocoa-nut leaves which they required for culinary purposes. Ends of taro, yams, bananas, fish, etc., were also carefully laid aside, and considered as unfit to be eaten as if they were poison. In a case of sickness, however, the god allowed, and indeed required, that the patient should be fanned with the ends of cocoa-nut leaflets.

7. O LE ALII O FITI - The Chief of Fiji.

This was the name of a god in a certain household, and present in the form of an eel, and hence the eel was never used by them as an article of food. This god was supposed to be unusually kind, and never injured any of the family. They showed their gratitude by presenting the first fruits of their taro plantation.

8. LIMULIMUTA - Sea-weed.

This was the name by which another protector was known. If any members of the family went to fight at sea, they collected some sea-weed to take with them. If in pursuit of a canoe, they threw out some of it to hinder the progress of the enemy, and make the chase successful in obtaining a decapitated head or two. If the enemy tried to pick up any of this deified sea-weed it immediately sank, but rose again and floated on the surface if one of its friends paddled up to the spot.

9. MOSO'OI.

This is the name of a tree (Conanga Odorata), the yellow flowers of which are highly fragrant. In one place it was supposed to be the habitat of a household god, and anything aromatic or sweet-scented which the family happened to get was presented as an offering.

At any household gathering the god was sent for to be present. Three different messengers had to go at short intervals, as it was not expected that he would come before the third appeal or entreaty for his presence.

10. FATUPUAA MA LE FEE - The pig's heart and the octopus.

Another family supposed that two of their gods were embodied in the said heart and octopus. Men, women, and children of them were most scrupulous never to eat either the one or the other, believing that such a meal would be the swallowing of a germ of a living heart or octopus growth, by which the insulted gods would bring about death.

11. PU'A.

This is the name of a large tree (Hernandia Peltata). A family god of the same name was supposed to live in it, and hence no one dared to pluck a leaf or break a branch.

The same god was also supposed to be incarnate in the octopus, and also in the land crab. If one of these crabs found its way into the house, it was a sign that the head of the house was about to die.

12. SAMANI.

This was the name of a family god. It was seen in the turtle, the sea eel, the octopus, and the garden lizard. Any one eating or injuring such things had either to be sham baked in an unheated oven, or drink a quantity of rancid oil as penance and a purgative. This god predicted that there was a time coming when Samoa would be filled with foreign gods.

13. SATIA.

1. In one place the member of the family supposed to be the priest of the god was noted for cannibalism. At times he would cry out furiously and order those about him to be off and get him some of his "sacred food." He professed to be doctor as well as demon. A great chief when ill was once taken to him, and the doctor's bill for a cure was the erection of a mound of stones, on the top of which a house was to be built. The bill was paid by the retinue of the chief.

2. In another family it was supposed that their god Satia had the power to become incarnate in a man or a woman. If he wished to go to a particular woman, he became a man; and if he desired a man, he changed into a woman.

14. SENGI VAVE - Snatch quickly.

An old man named Sengi, or snatch, was an incarnation of this household god. All the fine mats and other valuables were in some mysterious way under his control. On returning from any kind of daily work in the bush every one on entering the house had to salute him, as the representative of the god, in some apologetic phrase, such as "I beg your pardon." If any one omitted this mark of respect, the penalty was the disappearance of a fine mat from the family bundle without any one knowing how it was taken.

15. SOESAI.

This was the name of a household god in some families. In one, the god was seen in the domestic fowl. In another, the incarnations were the eel, the octopus, and turtle. Prayers for life and recovery were offered in cases of great danger, and also at child-birth.

16. SI'U - Extremity or end.

The family in which this god was worshipped said that he appeared in the form of a skull once a year, about the month of May. Lemana, or the Powerful, was the name of the priest. If in time of famine or pestilence the family had been preserved thanks were specially offered to Lemana for having been so successful in his pleadings with the god.

17. SINA 'AI MATA - Sina the eye-eater.

This god was incarnate in the bird called Ve'a, and was the juvenile scarecrow of the family. "Do not make such a noise; Sina, the eye-eater, will come and pick out your eyes." The eyes of fish were sacred to this god, and never eaten by any of the family.

18. TONGO.

1. In one family this god was incarnate in the bat, and was supposed to be specially attentive to turmeric. When a party of women were met to grate the root and prepare some of this native dye and cosmetic they usually had some food together. If at such a time a woman concealed a tit-bit to eat by the sly, when she came to put it to her mouth it had been changed into turmeric by the anger and power of Tongo.

2. The stinging ray fish was the incarnation of Tongo in another family. If they heard of any neighbour who had caught a fish of the sort, they would go and beg them to give it up and not to cook it. A refusal would be followed by a fight.

3. In another family Tongo was incarnate in the mullet, and the penalty for eating that fish by any of them was a disease ending in a squint.

19. TUIALII - King of Chiefs.

1. In one family this god was greatly praised as being a good and kind deity. In a time of scarcity, for instance, he led them to some place in the bush where they could dig up plenty of wild yams.

2. In another family this god was prayed to for life and health before the evening meal; an offering of a blazing fire was essential to the success of the prayer, which ran as follows: -

     "This is our fire to you, it burns bright; other fires are dim and 
     going out; send these families to the lower regions, but give us 
     life and health."

The sea eel, octopus, and mullet were incarnations of this god. He was also seen in the ends of banana leaves. If any one used the end of a banana leaf as a cap, baldness was the punishment. All the children born in the family were called by the name of the god.

20. TUIPANGOTA - The King of Criminals.

A household god, and the special guardian of a particular family against thieving. If any thing was stolen the unknown culprit was given over by prayer to be put to death in some way by Tuipangota. A raised stone platform was erected in the house on which he was supposed to sit, and close beside it was another to serve the purpose of an altar, on which offerings were laid.

21. TAUMANUPEPE - Fight creature butterfly.

This family god was incarnate in butterflies. Any one of that household catching or killing these beautiful winged insects were liable to be struck dead by the god.

In another family this god was supposed to have three mouths. There it was forbidden to drink from a cocoa-nut shell water-bottle which had all the three eyes or openings perforated. Only one, or at the most two, apertures for drinking were allowed. A third would be a mockery, and bring down the wrath of his butterflyship.

22. ULAVAI - Fresh-water prawn, or crayfishes.

This was a household god in a family in one of the villages of Aana. A woman had been bathing and brought on a premature event which happens sometimes. When she told her friends they went to search for the child. Nothing could be seen, however, but an unusual number of prawns or crayfishes, into which they supposed the infant had been changed. And so they commenced to regard the crayfish as the incarnation of a new household god, gave it food, and offered prayers before it for family prosperity.

To these may be added the names of forty-six other gods, making in all one hundred and ten, but of whom I have little to say different from the descriptions of Samoa Zoolatry, etc., already given. A few more are referred to in the Cosmogony and other details, making up the number of Samoan deities of which I have heard to about a hundred and twenty, all claiming and receiving the two essentials of religion - something to be believed and something to be done.