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Observations placeholder

Grimble, Sir Arthur - Becomes the victim of a death prayer



Type of Spiritual Experience


This is also related to the Kahuna

A description of the experience

Sir Arthur Grimble - A Pattern of Islands

'Be of good heart amid all these dangers,' said the village fathers, 'for your ancestors love you.'

I am not quoting at random; the words were said to me by Taakeuta, an elder of Royal Karongoa, the Sun clan into which I was adopted, when he believed me to be threatened by a death-curse. His teaching was that I had only to justify myself before the ancestors and the sun - first, by giving them
honour, second, by avoiding incest, third, by abstaining from violence against their sacred creatures - and they would save me alive if I called upon them properly. A system of protective rituals had its roots in this comforting doctrine.

The appeal for protection was made in the form of invocations called tataro, which were, in effect, simple prayers. Taakeuta gave me two tataro for personal use. He recommended the first for what he courteously styled my 'bad luck' at fishing. It had to be recited sitting on my canoe, looking up at the sun (when it was at its noonday strength, ideally) with the luckless hook raised breast-high between joined palms:

Sun-e-e, Sun-o-o, I beg thee, I, Grimble!
Thou knowest me with my ill-wished hook.
Ancestors-€-e, Auriaria, Tituaabine-o-o, I beg you, I, Grimble!
You know me with my ill-fortune.
I am faint-hearted, you! Help me!
It is ended. Blessings and Peace are mine. Blessings and Peace.

The true characters of prayer appear more convincingly, perhaps, in the next example, for an attitude of supplication is associated there with an oblation and a plea of righteousness. My teacher gave me this one with others, as a sure defence against the death-spell I have mentioned. The instructions ran that, before beginning to eat any meal, I must raise a morsel of food on upturned palm before me and repeat aloud:

This is the lifting up of the portion of the Ancestors.
Here is thy food, Auriaria: I have committed no incest.
Here is thy food Tituaabine: I have not harmed thy creature
(the Giant Ruy).
I am excellent-e-e! I touch the Sun, I clasp the Moon.
Turn back the spirits of the death-magic; turn them back,
for I, Grimble, beg you.
I am not lost. Blessings and Peace are mine. Blessings and Peace.

The source of the experience

Grimble, Sir Arthur

Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items

Activities and commonsteps