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Observations placeholder

Sir Arthur Grimble - On Spells and a Prayer for his daughter



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Sir Arthur Grimble - A Pattern of Islands

[the magic of the ] Gilbertese [used] spells which covered the entire range of village activities; there was not a cranny of a man's or a woman's life into which it did not penetrate, and great sections of it - especially those which covered childbirth, marriage, prosperity, and death - were untainted by human malice. My aged friend Tabanea, of whose traffic in the 'magic of kindness' I shall have more to say later, gave me some samples of spells meant to comfort, not to kill.

One of them was of the family known as te Kaanangaraoi, the givers of good direction, i.e., roughly, the bringers of good fortune. It was a father's blessing on his son, but Tabanea said it would do well
enough, alternatively, for any of my daughters.

'Lead her to an eastern beach just before sunrise,' he instructed, me, 'and seat her on a stone facing the dawn. You may take her to the stone I use for myself, if you like. When she is seated, anoint the 'crown of her head with a little coconut oil - a drop or two will be enough - and tie a
fillet of young coconut leaf about her brows, making a knot like this.  Then let her sit very still, her hands upon her knees, waiting for the sun to rise. And when you see the top rim of the sun appear over the horizon, stand beside her with your right hand resting on her head, saying these words three times:

By this crowning with a fillet, by this anointing with oil,
Thou art beautiful, thou art the first of thy generation.
Thou shalt overturn the hearts of the old men,
Thou shalt overturn the hearts of the warriors;
They shall gaze upon thee and eagerly speak thy name.
Thou art become the child of the sun;
Thy feet shall tread high places;
Thy heart shall burn, thy body shall shine;
Thy face shall be beautiful and terrible;
Thy word shall be a judgement that is judged,
And thy name only, Joan Ruth, shall be in the mouth of all people,
Thine, thine, thine!
The Sun is risen.'

The source of the experience


Concepts, symbols and science items




Science Items

Activities and commonsteps



Singing spells