Page:Myth, Ritual, and Religion (Volume 2).djvu/49

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35
SAMOAN FORM OF TOTEMISM.

in that person's body, and causing to generate there the very thing which he had eaten until it produced death. The god used to be heard within the man, saying, "I am killing this man; he ate my incarnation." This class of tutelary deities they called aitu fale, or "gods of the house," gods of the stock or kindred.

Not only the household, but the village has its animal gods or god incarnate in an animal. As some Arab tribes piously bury dead gazelles, as Athenians piously buried wolves, and Egyptians cats, so in Samoa "if a man found a dead owl by the roadside, and if that happened to be the incarnation of his village god, he would sit down and weep over it, and beat his forehead with a stone till the blood came. This was supposed to be pleasing to the deity. Then the bird would be wrapped up and buried with care and ceremony, as if it were a human body. This, however, was not the death of the god." Like the solemnly sacrificed buzzard in California, like the bull in the Attic Diipolia, "he was supposed to be yet alive and incarnate in all the owls in existence."[1]

In addition to these minor and local divinities, the Samoans have gods of sky, earth, disease, and other natural departments. Of their origin we only know that they fell from heaven, and all were incarnated or embodied in birds, beasts, plants, stones, and fishes. But they can change shapes, and appear in the moon when she is not visible, or in any other guise they choose.

  1. τὸν τεθνεῶτα ἀναστησάντων ἐν ᾖπερ ἀπέθανε θυσίᾳ. Porph., De Abst., ii. 29; Samoa, p. 21.