Saturday, November 12, 2011

How to Avoid Aitu (Evil Spirits) : A Samoan Guide

In this post, Elisa shares
some Samoan superstitions with us.
Editor’s Note: A while back I was having dinner with my friend Elisa, a fellow Peace Corps Volunteer here in Samoa, and she started telling me about a number of Samoan superstitions. Throughout my two years here, I’ve found that superstitions are very much a part of Samoan culture. Elisa, being very much integrated into her village and life in Samoa, was the best person to ask to write this for all of you. So a huge thanks to her for her guest blog, which you can read below!

Cover your mirrors at night with any ie lavalava you have lying around. Many a vain young girl hath been caught unawares by the jealous ghost of some ghoul while combing her hair or examining her visage.
Refrain from whistling while walking along the road at night lest you attract an evil spirit. Most times whistling gets you your mouth ripped off or your jaw broken.
Get tattoos and go fishing in even numbers unless you want an aitu to join your party to take the place of your missing member. Note: When fishing, if you can’t find a friend to accompany you, ghosts will accept a sturdy stick stuck into the sand to represent your missing uo.
Nothing brings bad luck like breaking a dish and the worst luck at that. A broken dish means the immediate death of a family member. Your family may be so extensive that you won’t be notified of the death of this person, but know deep down in your guilty conscience as you sweep up the shards of that ipu that somewhere your 5th cousin twice removed has dropped dead.
Always swirl eye sicknesses when you are removing them. Meaning, when you take your thin twig to poke at your inflamed sty, be sure to swirl it a time or two before you stick it soundly into your calloused heel. This way the ma’i is thoroughly confused and dizzy before it realizes it has been moved to the bottom of your foot and is consequently squashed.
Don’t act like a dead man and wrap yourself in an ietoga even if it does look soft and comfy. Lurking aitu may mistake you for a dead man and carry you away.
Owls are ghosts and cats have 7 lives so be wary of passing owls when you are wandering about at night odds are you are being watched and be careful not to incur the wrath of a cat as they can come back to haunt you six times.
Aitu are easily offended by obscene language so it may be worth while to scream a few choice swear words should you find yourself face to face with one.
Umbilical cords should be properly buried when they fall off or else you will leave your newborn restless and haunted.
It’s rude to old Samoan graves and their inhabitants who you offend may come after you to teach you a lesson. However, this only relates to old Samoan rock graves. New cement graves can be slept on top of and can even be used as a place to dry your laundry and pound your cocoa.
Should you find yourself under the influence of a curse and doctors cannot find a thing wrong with you (though you can’t control or see out of the left side of your body) cutting off your long locks is always worth a try. If you were cursed by a jealous lady-ghost then odds are she wants you humbled.
Keep an eye out for shooting stars as they mark the birth of a girl in the family.


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  2. hi i'm ola and i'm half samoan my grandma has been telling me these stories and she told me that who ever gets possesed has to get a special samoan massage she also told me some sidekickes said the spirits want her dead.

  3. my grandma also said not to sleep with ur hair out.

  4. hi, my name is Tyreece MAMEA and this is the first time I have come into this website. I am fully Samoan and I can easily understand one of these rules. o le mea muamua o le whistle. afai e whistle oe I le po atoa pe a e alu e te savali I le auala, e iai le tiapolo e sau e ave oe and be as like a monster. you will get in trouble by your parents of why are you whistling at night time. I lou ava ma le faaaloalo lava, faafetai.

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