Collectanea. 1 8 1
It was, I think, long after those times that animals, trees and mountains became sacred, as being the residence of spiritual beings or closely associated with them.
The story about the Palolo marks a still further development, and shows how a close observance of nature enabled them to predict with comparative certainty the appearance of this annelid. From observations made by me in Savaii I found that the Palolo was always obtained on two out of three given days, viz., the day before the day of the last quartering of the October and November moons ; the day of the moon's quartering ; and the day after the quartering. It was generally, but not always, most abundant on the day of the moon's quartering. Full details of these facts are given by Rev. S. J. Whitmee — Proceedings of the Zoological Society for June, 1S75. It is interesting to note that the Samoans had found that by observing the flowering of two trees the Seasea (Eugenia sp.) and the Gatae (Erythrina Indica), they knew that the time was near at hand, and that by observing the position of the stars Castor and Pollux at a given period, they could determine the exact time. This was a great step in advance, and many years of close observation must have passed after the first discovery was made that the position of the two stars at a certain pliase of the moon was coincident with the coming of the Palolo.
It will, however, be seen that in the account given by Peni there are distinct survivals of old beliefs of the personality of animals, fishes, and natural objects, and also of the later belief in their power as being associated with spiritual beings. The order of development appears to have been Animatism, Animism, and Natural Science. The signs and portents which accompany the Palolo are no doubt the natural results of the unsettled weather which always accompanied the change of the monsoons, but the Samoans as certainly believe, even to this day, that they are due to the Palolo, as the average sailor believes, with probably as much reason, that the many changes of wind and weather are entirely due to the influence of the moon at full and change.
G. Brown, D.D.