Aitu – Monsters!

Every culture seems to have its monsters. Samoa’s aitu/monsters are all ghosts, demons, or the devil itself. (At least as far as I know.) I have not yet heard about Bigfoot, the chupicabra, the Kraken, or any other fleshy beast. In America, with the help of a Ouija board, a séance, a psychomantium, crystal balls, or some incantations, ghosts can be contacted and communicated with (or so some say). In Samoa, it is much easier to bring the wrath of the aitu. The purpose of this post is to educate on how to avoid bringing out the angry ghosts here in Samoa. I will continue to update this post as I learn of new ways to anger the aitu.

1.Do NOT whistle at night. This is the sound of the aitu. You could be whistling the Samoan national anthem during the Rugby Sevens while Samoa is beating the All Blacks senseless, and the aitu will still come to get you. Not only will whistling at night bring the aitu to your door, but it will give your friends, family, and neighbors the heebie-jeebies, and score you a nice fine from the village mayor. A first time offence is forgivable by the mayor, but not the aitu. It seems as though they are always listening… at night.

2. Do NOT gather coconuts at night. Besides the darkness, the endless onslaught of mosquitoes, hidden rocks, branches, vau fefe, and the crushing weight of the coconuts on your shoulders, aitu wait in the coconuts at night. This means that if you drink the water from or eat the flesh of a coconut that was collected at night, you are the lucky winner of a possession – and the need for an exorcism. Exorcisms aren’t fun, nor are they free, so make sure you know when your coconuts were gathered. The last person I knew to be possessed is now dead. Her exorcism didn’t work.

3. Do NOT eat in front of a grave that is not in your family. Graves are not put in cemeteries here in Samoa. You loved the person in life, so why would you want to be removed from their rotting corpse? Your yard is a perfect place to erect a little tomb and bury them. So eating in front of a grave that is not in your family is quite easy. When you eat in front of a grave that is not part of your family, you are the winner of some old school voodoo pain. (minus the doll) You are at the mercy of that dead person who didn’t get to eat. Leaving food in front of the grave does nothing to save your tortured life. Remember if it is one of your family members, there is nothing to worry about. They like to watch you eat.

4. Do NOT chew gum at night. Though in life Samoans seem to have no issue with eating-related sounds, the aitu find it quite offensive… especially at night. So if you like to chew your gum with your mouth wide open so carelessly that you often let it fall out onto the floor and pick it back up and put it in your mouth as is common here, be careful at night. Once the sun goes down the aitu are on my side. It is unclear if this offense warrants a possession or just a haunting.

5. (NEW) Do NOT travel from Savai’i straight through Upolu to get to Tutuila without asking for safe passage from the aitu.  If you do not, you will be eaten by the aitu!  I am not sure how they would eat you, but that is what I have been told.  Tutuila for all of you non Samoan people is the American Samoan island where the city of Pago Pago is located.   There is no way to get from Savai’i to Tutuila without coming through Upolu.  Unless you have your own boat that can make it that far without refueling… or a plane.

The best way to learn about this is to commit the offense firsthand. Luckily for me, I only committed the whistling offense, and have not noticed any haunting.

UPDATE:

Since posting yesterday we heard a wonderful story.  There is nothing we can do about this aitu, but it is interesting regardless.

Before cars, people had to walk everywhere.  Our dirt road is the old auala sopo / walking road which leads to Apia.  Apparently, you can still follow the road all the way there, though we have not verified that yet.  The auala sopo was used to carry all manner of things from Apia to this part of the island including dead bodies.  The auala sopo is said to be haunted by the spirits of those people who were carried along the road.  Since roads have changed over time, a few houses have been built over the old auala sopo. Aitu however, do not care if there is a house on their road on not.  The aitu will walk right through, which results in a haunting.  It turns out that during training Karen’s host family’s house was built over the auala sopo (unlike our current house which is next to it.)  Since Karen has left that house, no one sleeps in her old room, nor did anyone before her.  They said that her room was the haunted room.  A few Samoan people had tried sleeping in there, but always woke up feeling like they were being strangled.  They all agreed that palagi / white people would not be effected because we didn’t believe.  Nothing happened to Karen or I when we slept in that room.  However, we did not know about this haunting.  It would be interesting to spend another night there with our new found knowledge of the room.

We will also keep an eye out for strange things going on around our house and our auala galue / auala sopo!

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20 Responses to Aitu – Monsters!

  1. Dear says:

    I don’t believe all those things mentioned in your post about the samoan aitu… ummm just wondering where you get these infomation from. I was born and bred in Samoa, and never heard of these.

    Cheers

  2. John says:

    With a little reading at the Pacific Reading Room of the Feleti Barstow Library your knowledge of Aitu might be enhanced. The “demonized” version you speak of is generally considered to be a Christian construct. In order to imbue Christian beliefs on pre-contact peoples, missionaries adapted the “bad” spirit ethos.

    In fact, pre-contact spirits had many miens including love making, impishness, trickery and shape shifting. While these personifications are talked less about today, they still resonate in local Samoan culture.

    While this blog may not have a huge popular readership, your beliefs perpetuate a theological view inconsistent with ancient cultural beliefs. Your not the only one. Missionaries have proved to be excellent proselitizers.

    The PRR has excellent resources. I think you will find it interesting to gain a broader perspective of the subject. Just to begin, Polynesian mythology descends from Southeast Asia where creator gods reign over levels and domains of earth of which Hinduism eventually evolved. Start your education by searching Tagaloa, Solo o le Va and Io. This blogsite’s podcasts are also an excellent starting point.

    http://amsamoa-busycorner.blogspot.com/

    From Pago Pago, John Wasko

    • ntikaren says:

      Morning John. Thanks for your input. We agree that your knowledge of pre-Christianity in Samoa is far greater than ours. Thanks for giving our readers a point to do some research from.

      Our blog is solely our observations of Samoa as it is today in our area. It is not intended to be of reference-able quality. All of the information in this post is based on stories from Samoan people in our village. While they may be uneducated in their own cultural roots, they are telling us what they know.

      Thanks again for your input, and thanks for reading!

      K/D

    • 199777 says:

      I beleave some, of the stuff you said,but i like how you know these things.who told you about my spirits. AITU

  3. Good thing it was only whistling! Glad to hear you’re not possessed – although that could be left up to interpretation. Did the mayor forgive your slight or were you fined?

  4. Jen says:

    This blog is great! Have you noticed it’s linked from the MI section of Bard’s website now? It makes a great illustration of the type of work you’d do with that program.

  5. NiuZila says:

    Talofa

    I agree with John Wasko. Aitu’s were not all evil. Infact many families and villages often cite aitu’s as their protectors. My inlaws are from Siumu (not far from where you are living), and the cross-island road to Apia is said to have many aitu’s who protect the locals, but can curse outsiders who are disrespectful.

    Thanks for the great read.

    Soifua

  6. Andre Nacmanie says:

    Wonderful stuff, Dave and Karen. Your blog is reaching a much wider audience than you must’ve imagined. Seems like the Aitu would forgive your whistling in the dark. But, remember to maintain respect!

  7. Andre Nacmanie says:

    also, unrelated to anything. I saw Dr. Gavis today for a chipped tooth. He says hi.

  8. SLEU says:

    Hello there! I stumbled upon your blog googling “puletasi pairs” (go figure) and am glad I did.. Your blog is great! I have just added you to my favorite! 🙂

    Soifua ma ia manuia!

  9. delamoose says:

    This was really interesting to read. I’ve not been around very many Samoans growing up so it’s nice to read about the adventures others have while in the island. I may be a Samoan but if I were to go back to the island I would probably be adding posts/articles of my experiences as you have. Thanks!

    Um… here’s a sad plug for my own blog… lol: Come see my blog at http://leiloa.net

    I’m in search of other Samoan blogs because I find blogging interesting. I googled Samoan blogs and it returned your site. Thanks again for the fun read! keep up the good work.

  10. Tearorangi Aitu says:

    Hi there,

    I am doing some research on my family name “Aitu”, and wanting to know of its origins. I am aware of it’s interpretation in Samoa and Tonga, but am finding it difficult to locate any connections to the Cook Islands.

  11. Dianne says:

    Hi there

    I really enjoyed reading ur blog, im full blooded samoan raised in NZ, from when i was young i have always heard stories about peoples ghost experiences and i have always had an interest in it since then.

  12. Shanokee Dana says:

    Hello are you still located in Samoa ??
    I’m very enjoyed you blog, i been in a few haunted locations in the world (netherlands, france, germany, austrailia) it would be great to have a experience in samoa aswell

    I am just arived in samoa.
    and was looking online for haunted locations in samoa and came on youre blog, verry interesting and full of info !!

    • ntikaren says:

      Yes, we are still in Samoa. I am not sure however, where you should go to experience anything. Perhaps that waiters/waitresses at Aggies can help you out.

  13. toka says:

    e sa’o oe e moni lava le tali.

  14. 199777 says:

    WERE COMMING AITU

  15. Ken Fasig says:

    This brought back loads of memories of my 20 years in Samoa. I remember many of these legends of the aitu.

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