1. The Samoans say that of old the heavens fell down, and that people had to crawl about like the lower animals. After a time the arrow-root and another similar plant pushed up the heavens, and the place where these plants grew is still pointed out and called the Teengalangi, or heaven-pushing place; but the heads of the people continued to knock on the skies, and the place was excessively hot. One day a woman was passing along who had been drawing water. A man came up to her and said he would push up the heavens if she would give him some water to drink. "Push them up first," she replied. He pushed them up, and said, "Will that do?" "No," said she, "a little farther." He sent them up higher still, and then she handed him her cocoa-nut shell water-bottle. Another account says that the giant god Ti'iti'i pushed up the heavens, and that at the place where he stood there are hollow places in a rock nearly six feet long which are pointed out as his footprints.

2. Tradition says that in former times the people on earth had frequent intercourse with the heavens. We have already noticed some of these visits (pp. 13, 105). These stories are probably founded on the old idea that the heavens ended at the horizon. They thought that there was solidity there as well as extension; and therefore a distant voyage to some other island might be called a visit to some part of the heavens. When white men made their appearance, it was thought that they and the vessel which brought them had in some way broken through the heavens; and, to this day white men are called Papalangi, or Heaven-bursters.

But imagination required something more circumstantial, and hence the variety of traditionary schemes by which the people were supposed to go up and down on these visits to the heavens. One story speaks of a mountain, the top of which reached to the skies. Another says that a very dense column of smoke took people up. Another tells of a tree which, when it fell, was sixty miles in length. Another tree is mentioned which formed a sort of ladder, but on different sections of it there were repulsive or stinging insects, through which few but the very courageous persevered in forcing their way. First there was a part swarming with cockroaches; then a place full of ants; then a section covered with large venomous ants; beyond that again was a part of the tree overspread with centipedes, from which many turned and went down again to terra firma. The centipede region cleared, however, some finer branches were reached, and perched on them, the tourists waited for a high wind, which swung them up and down for a time, and then they were suddenly jerked in to the heavens.

3. Some curious stories are told about the sun. A woman called Mangamangai became pregnant by looking at the rising sun. Her son grew and was named "Child of the Sun." At his marriage he applied to his mother for a dowry. She sent him to his father, the sun, to beg from him, and told him how to go. Following her directions he went one morning with a long vine from the bush - which is the convenient substitute for a rope - climbed a tree, threw his rope with a noose at the end of it, and caught the sun. He made known his message, and (Pandora-like) got a present for his bride. The sun first asked him what was his choice - blessings or calamities? "Blessings," was his reply, and he came down with a store of them done up in a basket. There is another tale told about this Samoan Phaethon similar to what is related of the Hawaiian Maui. He and his mother were annoyed at the rapidity of the sun's course in those days - it rose, reached the meridian, and set, "before they could get their mats aired." He determined to make it go slower. He climbed a tree in the early morning, and with a rope and noose threw again and caught the sun as it emerged from the horizon. The sun struggled to get clear, but in vain. Then fearing lest he should be strangled he called out: "Have mercy on me - spare my life - what do you want?" "We wish you to go slower," was the reply, "we can get no work done." "Very well, let me go; for the future I will walk slowly." He let go the rope, and ever since the sun has gone slowly and given longer days.

The sun was the usual timekeeper of the day. The night was divided into three parts - midnight, and the first and second cock-crowing. Then came the sun. There was the rising - the half-way up - the standing straight overhead - turning over - making to go down - and, last of all, sinking. They thought the blazing sun went down into the ocean, passed through and came up next morning on the other side. The commotion among the waves at the horizon as he went down was supposed to be very great, and it was one of the worst curses to wish a person to sink in the ocean and the sun to go blazing down on the top of him.

Human sacrifices to the sun are spoken of in some of the more remote traditions. In this connection Papatea in the Eastward again comes up as the place where the sacrifices were offered. When the sun rose he called for a victim, and the same when he set. This continued for eighty days, and the population of the island was fast passing away. A lady called Ui, and her brother Luamaa, fled from Papatea and reached Manu'a, but alas! the sun there too was demanding his daily victims. It went the round of the houses, and when all had given up one of their number it was again the turn of the first house to supply an offering. The body was laid out on a Pandanus tree, and there the sun devoured it. It came to the turn of Luamaa to be offered, but his sister Ui compassionated him, and insisted on being offered in his stead. She lay down and called out: "Oh, cruel Sun! come and eat your victim, we are all being devoured by you." The sun looked at lady Ui, desired to live with her, and so he put an end to the sacrifices, and took her to wife. Another story makes out that Ui was the daughter of the King of Manu'a, and that he gave up his daughter as an offering to the sun, and so end the sacrifices by making her the saviour of the people.

4. Some of the planets are known and named. Fetu is the word used to designate all heavenly bodies except the sun and moon. Venus is called the morning and evening star. Mars is the Matamemea, or the star with the sear-leafed face. The Pleiades are called Lii or Mataalii, eyes of chiefs. The belt of Orion is the amonga, or burden carried on a pole across the shoulders. The milky way is ao lele, ao to'a, and the aniva. Ao lele, means flying cloud, and ao to'a, solid cloud. Meteors are called, fetu ati afi, or stars going to fetch a light; and comets are called pusa loa, or an elongated smoke.

5. Tradition in Samoa, as in other parts of the world, has a good deal to say about the moon. We are told of the visit to it by two young men, the one named Punifanga and the other Tafaliu. The one went up by a tree, and the other on a column of dense smoke from a fire kindled by himself for the purpose. We are also told of the woman Sina, or white, who with her child has long been up there. She was busy one evening with mallet in hand beating out on a board some of the bark of the paper mulberry with which to make native cloth. It was during a time of famine. The moon was just rising, and reminded her of a great bread-fruit, looking up to it she said, "Why cannot you come down and let my child have a bit of you?" The moon was indignant at the thought of being eaten, came down forthwith, and took her up, child, board, mallet, and all. At the full of the moon young Samoa still looks up, and traces the features of Sina, the face of the child, and the board and mallet, in verification of the old story.

The moon was the timekeeper of the year. The year was divided into twelve lunar months, and each month was known by a name in common use all over the group. To this there were some local exceptions, and a month named after the god, who on that month was specially worshipped. It is said that of old it was universal to name the month after the god whose worship at that particular time was observed. Among a people who had no fixed astronomical dates intercallation was easy, and the names of the twelve moons kept uniform.


1. This was called Utu va mua, first yam digging. And so named from their then digging wild yams before the cultivated ones were ripe, and also from early yam digging.

2. Others say that the origin of Utu va mua was in two brothers, the one called Utuvamua and the other Utuvamuli, who, when there was war in heaven, and their party beaten, fled to the earth and brought the January storms with them.

3. A third account says that Utuvamua was the elder brother and Utuvamuli the younger, and that during a great war on earth they escaped to the heavens. That the hills are the heaps of slain covered over by earth dug up from the valleys, and that when the two brothers look down upon them their weeping and wailing and maddening exasperation occasion the storm and the hurricane.

4. The month was also called Aitu tele, great god, from the principal worship of the month. At another place it was named Tangaloa tele, for a similar reason.


1. This month was called Toe utu va, or digging again, and so named from the yam crop.

2. The name is also explained as the further digging up of the winds to raise storms.

3. Aitu iti, or small gods, is another name, from the worship of the inferior household gods in that month.


1. Called Faaafu, or withering, from the withering of the yam vine and other plants, which become coloured "like the shells."

2. Taafanua is another name of the month, which means, roam or walk about the land, being the name of a god worshipped in that month.

3. Called also Aitu iti, or small gods, from the household gods then worshipped, and who were specially implored to bless the family for the year "with strength to overcome in quarrels and in battle."


1. This month was called Lo, from the name of a small fish which comes in plentiful shoals at that time.

2. Called also Fanonga, or destruction, the name of a god worshipped at the eastern extremity of the group during that month.


1. Called Aununu, or stem crushed, from the crushed or pulverised state of the stem of the yam at that time. Others say it was so named from multitudes of malicious demons supposed to be wandering about at that time. Even the fish of the sea were supposed to be possessed and unusually savage in this month. May is often an unhealthy month, being the time of transition from the wet season to the dry, and hence the crushing sickness and superstitious vagaries.

2. Called also on one island Sina, or white, from the worship of a goddess of that name there.


This month was called Oloamanu, or the singing of birds, it was thus named from the unusual joy among the birds over a plentiful supply of favourite buds and berries. The bright scarlet flowers of the "Erythrina indica" begin then to come out and attract a host of parrakeets and other happy chirpers.


Called Palolo mua, or the first of Palolo. This is the first month of the half year, called the Palolo season in contradistinction to the other half, which is called the Trade-wind season. Palolo ( Palolo virides) is that singular worm which swarms out from certain parts of the barrier reefs for three days in the course of a year, of which the natives are very fond, and all the more so from its rareness. If the last quarter of the moon is late in October palolo is found the day before, the day of, and the day after, that quarter. If the last quarter of the moon is early in October palolo does not come till the last quarter of the November moon. The middle day, or the day of the quarter, is the principal day for gathering these swarms of marine worms.


This month was called Palolo muli, or after Palolo. Pa means to burst, and lolo, fatty or oily, and hence probably the origin of the name in the fatty or oily appearance of the worms as they break, burst, and are mixed up in the heaps directly after they are taken. They are only found for about half an hour before sunrise, after sunrise they disappear.


1. Mulifa was the name given to this month which means end of the stem of the talo, or "arum esculentum." The month being unusually dry and parching, the scorching rays of the sun left little of the talo stem but a small piece at the end.

2. The end of the season for catching the fish called Fa, is another derivation of Mulifa given by some.


This month was called Lotuaga, or rain prayers. It was so called from the special prayers which were then offered to the gods for rain.


Taumafamua was the name of this month, the first of plenty, that means, fish and other food became plentiful, and then followed what were called the palolo and fly-hook feasts. Public dinners in the houses of the leading men of the village were the order of the day.


This month was named Toetaumafa, or the finish of the feasting. Food now was less plentiful, and after some of the December gales or cyclones there was a great scarcity.