Episode 19 – Hawaiian Tuna

Episode 19 Show Notes

Source: Polynesian Mythology

Aloha!  This week on MYTH, I’m headed to sunny Hawaii for vacation in honor of one year of podcasting, so I figured it would be the perfect time to do another episode on the trickster god, Maui.  In this episode, you’ll see that little kids shouldn’t be in charge of naming creation, that eels are creepy motherfuckers, and that fish make great landscaping.  Then, in Gods and Monsters, it’s the evil spirit that will fuck your shit up for eating in the wrong place, unless you’re related.  This is the Myths Your Teacher Hated podcast, where I tell the stories of cultures around the world in all of their original, bloody, uncensored glory.  Modern tellings of these stories have become dry and dusty, but I’ll be trying to breathe new life into them.  This is Episode 19, “Hawaiian Tuna.”  As always, this episode is not safe for work

 

  • When we last left Maui, back in Episode 10, he’d been abandoned by his mother to the sea, but found by his godly grandfather.  He went back home at the ripe old age of 13 to win his rightful place with his brothers, all named Maui.  He followed his mother down to her secret fuck fest with his father the underworld god and got inducted into the pantheon.  Unfortunately, his father had screwed the pooch when it came to the immortality ritual, so Maui only got to be a demigod.  One day, he would still totally die.  He then tricked his ancient ancestor into giving him the jawbone of another, deader ancestor instead of eating his ass, and he carved it into a magical fishhook.  To top it all off, he and his brothers got pissed off at how short the days were and lassoed the sun so they could curb stomp it into submission.
  • After all of that, Maui and his brothers decided to kick back and go fishing.  They’d done the world a serious favor by slowing down the sun, so they needed a little bro time.  Maui had a house on Kauiki, near Haleakala where they had beat down the sun (Maui liked to gloat about that from time to time, and he definitely needed to stay close to make sure the sun didn’t get any big ideas); it seemed like a perfect place.
  • Near the house was a small lake with a beautiful reef full of the flashing forms of the most succulent fish on the island.  The five brothers decided to have a little friendly fishing competition amongst themselves.  Maui and his four brothers used hooks they had made themselves.  Each brother used a length of olona vines that had been twisted together while still living to get them to fuse together tied to a hook carved from consecrated mother of pearl or bone to catch the fish.  The prayers said over the fishhooks gave them the power to hold fast any unlucky fucker that took the bait.  As with Maui’s magical hook, it was common to use the bones of someone who had been a bigwig when they were alive, to add extra oomph.
  • Maui got annoyed pretty quickly.  Fishing this way was tricky: the line had to be cast out into the ocean and, as soon as a fish nibbled, the line had to be pulled and kept taut while drawn with a steady pull that usually dragged the canoe out to the fish if the fish was big enough.  All four of his brothers were better fishermen than he was, and it was pissing him off.  He needed to flip the script.  He thought about using his magical hook, but he was worried that it wouldn’t work well for something so mundane.  Besides, it felt…wrong somehow to use it that way.  
  • Every time they caught something and Maui didn’t, they would tease him.  He couldn’t get better, but he could get sneakier.  He began to throw his line close to where his brothers threw theirs and when they hooked something, he would pull on his own line.  “Holy shit, guys, I got one!  We both got fish at the same time!  How weird is that?”  He would pull his line in just like his brother, but twitching it just enough that the two lines would become tangled.  Then, when the fish got close to the canoe, Maui would twitch his hook through the head of the fish and pull.  His brother’s line would suddenly go slack and Maui would make sympathetic noises as he pulled up the completely stolen fish.  “Aw, I’m so sorry, broseph. I don’t know why you didn’t just keep your line taut, like me.  But hey, look at this awesome fish I totally caught!”
  • His brothers were suspicious that Maui had suddenly and inexplicably become a master fisherman at the exact same moment that they all suddenly became shitty at it, but they didn’t have any proof he was lying.  They congratulated him awkwardly for being a good fisherman (but really just a good liar).  Eventually, they figured out what he was probably doing, and refused to take him fishing anymore.  Well, fuck.  What was he supposed to eat now?  He thought about carving a canoe and actually learning to fish, but that seemed like a shit-ton of work, and Maui was lazy.  
  • Although their parents were gods, only Maui (thanks to his training under Old Man Tame-nui-ke-ti-Rangi, his grandfather) had any magical abilities beyond being stronger than the average human.  He had learned well his grandfather’s sorcerer abilities, so since his brothers were being dicks, he had a plan.  He changed himself into a tiny bug and crawled into the canoe.  His brothers, completely unaware of anything odd, rowed out to go fishing.  Maui had meant to reveal himself before they started fishing, but he was lazy like I said, and he took a nap.  When he woke up, it was already past noon, and his brothers had caught plenty of fish.  They were discussing heading back when Maui shifted back into his true form.
  • “Wait!  I still need to catch something!  But not these little pussy fish.  I brought my magical fishhook (he had decided that he was okay using the thing after all, since it was definitely better than starving)!  Row out a little farther, and let me catch something big!”  Maui’s brothers really wanted to head back in, but if you have a younger sibling, you know just how much of an insistent, obnoxious pissant they can be.  Maui was no different.  He only had to whine a little before his brothers sighed and rowed out farther, to the ends of the fishing grounds.
  • “Seriously guys?  Did I not make myself clear?  I don’t want to catch the fucking pussy fish that swim near shore.  I want to catch the big motherfuckers out in the ocean!  Come on, please?  Please please please please please!  If you don’t I’ll tell mom you were being assholes!”  The four brothers shared a look that said “Fuck it, let’s just let him try.  Best case scenario, he hooks something and it drags him under the sea so that he finally shuts the hell up.”  The set to the oar again and rowed out deep into the ocean.
  • Maui watched as the island shrank behind them and finally disappeared behind the horizon, but he didn’t stop his brothers.  They sailed out far into the middle of nowhere, a place where men and gods never came.  When his brothers finally dropped the oars, exhausted, Maui looked around. “This’ll do, I guess.”  He grabbed his fishing line, and attached his magical hook the Manaiakalani and tied it on.  “Very impressive, little brother,” said Maui-taha.  “But you can’t catch shit without bait, and we’re all out.  What’re you gonna do?  Sit on the hook yourself?”  
  • His brothers laughed at their teasing, but it gave Maui an idea.  Pretty much every kid ever has played ‘stop hitting yourself’ at some point, and Maui’s brothers had played it with Maui more than once. That was the answer.  He grimaced, and then punched himself square in the nose.  Hard.  Blood began to pour from his already swelling nose and pool on the canoe deck.  “What the fuck, Maui?” screamed Maui-roto.  “Are you trying to convince mom we beat you up?  Fuck you, we did you a favor!”  Maui laughed.  “No, but that’s a good idea.  Just watch and learn brothers.”  His nose soon clotted up and stopped bleeding, and the blood on the deck of the canoe clotted up as well. As soon as it was solid enough, he set it on the hook and cast the magical, disgusting mess out into the water.
  • Maui had prepared an olona vine especially for this, and it was long enough that it reached all the way to the ocean floor and then even farther, down into the underworld.  Something grabbed the line, and drew it tight.  They all saw Maui’s line grow taut, and could see his muscles straining as he heaved on the line.  They remembered quite well that (as we saw back in Episode 10), Maui was more than capable of holding the one end of the line that held back the sun by himself, so this must be a monster of a fish.  This would be enough to feed everyone for days!  They began to row away from the fish, their fatigue forgotten, helping Maui to maintain tension in his line as he slowly drew up the huge fish.  
  • There was something odd about it, though.  The line didn’t dart around as the fish dashed and leapt; there was no trembling as the fish shook itself in impotent rage.  No, this was just a slow, steady test of strength and endurance. The brothers were starting to suspect that Maui had tricked them, that they were part of something bigger than just winning a fishing contest, but they didn’t know what.  After many minutes, the youngest brother, Maui-waho, glanced over his shoulder to try and see this thing that Maui had hooked.  He shrieked and dropped his paddle.  “Holy fuckstick!  What in the name of the gods is that!”  His brothers all glanced back, and yelped as a group.  “Shit balls!  Row!  Row now, guys!  Run away!”
  • Behind them, out of the black depths of the ocean rose the ragged head of a large island, only it was alive.  It rose like a huge fish, and it was chasing them.  A fucking island was chasing them!  “If we live through this, Maui, I’m gonna kill you!” yelled Maui-pae.  They rowed desperately, but they never really had a chance.  It was an island, and momentum was on its side.  He saw the water become shallow around them, although they were still in what used to be deep ocean, and then their canoe scraped sand.  They were stranded on a black sand beach.
  • Maui stood.  “Awesome sauce.  You guys wait here.  I’ll be right back.  And don’t cut up the island fish while I’m gone, okay?”  Without waiting for an answer, Maui dashed passed the rocky cliffs and was gone.  The four brothers sat there for ten minutes, panting and rubbing sore arms.  They began to look around at the massive fish they were currently sitting on.  This thing was huge, and somehow alive.  What they had taken for a series of rocky cliffs were loose scales and a fin.  
  • “Look, I know Maui said not to, but look how much food is around us right now, ready for the taking?  This is a huge fish, and I bet it won’t even notice if we cut off enough meat to fill the canoe to bring back with us, right?”  The other three brothers nodded.  It did seem to make sense.  Of course, in pretty much any mythology, immediately doing the thing a supernatural entity just told you not to is a recipe for disaster.
  • No sooner said than done, the four brothers walked off the beach and found a nice meaty looking place on the island fish to start cutting off chunks to bring back to their canoe.  The fish god, being very much alive and totally capable of feeling pain, began to bellow in a bass roar so deep it was almost inaudible.  The entire island began to thrash and shake as the massive fish tried to dislodge whatever was hurting it.  The shaking cracked the canoe of the Maui brothers and tossed them into the ocean.  The monster, seeing what he (correctly) thought was the source of his torment, swallowed up the four brothers whole.
  • The island sank deeper into the water in its agony, turning the single landmass into multiple smaller islands, but the deep gashes carved by the four brothers never healed.  They eventually became the mountains and valleys of the islands, stretching from shore to shore.  Maui walked the islands, looking for his missing brothers, but instead he found that the island fish was inhabited.  There were houses built, and fires burning, and men and women walked among them.  Maui took the fires he found and placed one of them in the heart of the island to make sure it would always burn, and it became the volcano at the center of the island.
  • In some versions of the story, Maui instead turns into a bird and flies out over the ocean to go fishing alone.  He hooks the land and draws it up, but the line breaks before it can rise completely, leaving the lands as isolated islands.  Several hundred lesser gods go to the island to get away from the main gods, who punish them by making them mortal.  
  • Maui never finds his brothers, and he goes home alone, saddened by their loss.  He spent a lot of time thinking about what had happened, and what he had found.  Before long, he decides that it’s not the island’s fault that his brothers did the one thing he told them not to, and it’s kind of a beautiful place, so he goes back and builds his own home there.  In this version of the story, Maui never becomes enamored of Rohe and kidnaps her, so he’s totally single and on the prowl.  He hears stories of a beautiful woman named Hina-a-te-lep, which means “daughter of the swamp”, and I told you last time that she’d be a thing later and she is completely distinct from the version that’s his mother.
  • After a fairly short courtship, the two marry and move in together on the new island (the specific location of which varies depending on which group is telling the story).  She cared for his thatched home just like all of the other women on the island.  She was grateful to him for snaring the sun and lengthening the days, because it was way too hard to get all of the shit done that she needed to in the little daylight that asshole the sun allowed.  They lived near a river, and Hina often went to the bank to get water for the  day’s cooking.  
  • One day she went down with her calabash, so she could fill it with water, decorated as was the custom in wreaths of leaves and flowers.  As she was kneeling, Tuna-roa, which means “the long eel”, saw her.  Yeah, it’s a little confusing that he’s an eel named Tuna, but just roll with it.  See what I did there?  Tuna swam quietly up to the bank, then suddenly lashed his tail out and beat Hina upside the goddamned head, knocking her into the water and covering her in the slime from his tail.  
  • Hina wasn’t sure what the fuck was up with this asshole, but she’s able to retreat from the river and get home safely.  She decides against telling Maui anything.  She isn’t really sure what happened, and she figures it’s easier to just let it go.  At least, she does until the next day when she goes to the river again for water, and again Tuna smacks her with his tail and covers her in his slime (which might totally be a metaphor for jizz, so…gross).  She moved to another part of the river and stripped to clean off, only to feel a cold slithering rub up against her pussy.  That’s right, that creepy bastard Tuna-roa had followed her to molest her as she cleaned his slime jizz from her face.
  • Now, Hina was well and truly pissed off.  It was times like these when it paid to be married to an incredibly powerful and (in some stories, at least) devoted god.  She told Maui about this motherfucker, and Maui took it personal.  He decided that someone needed to teach this asshole a lesson, and Maui fancied himself just the teacher.
  • Tuna the eel lived in the deep water, and Maui was far too clever to try and face a sea monster in the fucking ocean.  That was a recipe for disaster.  Instead, as always, Maui the trickster god decided to be sneaky.  He went out into the forest and, with sacred ceremonies which were later passed down to the peoples that worshiped him, chose trees to make the tools he would need.  While Maui was off preparing, Tuna got wind that Maui was after him and, just to be a dick, lured two of his children down to the riverside.  He grabbed the first with his tail and bashed its head against the rocks in a splatter of blood and brains.  The second, Tuna grabbed by the throat with his powerful jaws and dragged under the water so that he could watch it struggle as it ran out of air and inhaled the water in fear and agony.  
  • Maui was well and truly enraged now.  First, he built the narrow spade that the Maori’s of New Zealand call the ko and the Hawaiians call the o-o.  Second, he made several sharp spears with fire-hardened tips, which were strong enough to pierce the earth, and so it was definitely enough to pierce the skin of that bastard Tuna.  He prayed over them, and then he used the spade to cut a deep trench in the earth to draw off the water protecting the slippery eel.  Across one end, he stretched a tightly woven net to keep the motherfucker from escaping, and he set himself at the other end.
  • Then, Maui prayed. With a series of chants and ceremonies, he asked for rain and for vengeance.  Maui had proven himself a worthy demigod, and so he was answered.  The rain poured down, and the river swelled and rose.  It put more and more pressure on its banks, soon collapsing the thin wall Maui had left between the river and the trench Maui had dug, allowing the water to pour in.  While the rain fell, Maui took up his stone axe, called Ma-Tori-Tori or ‘the severer”, and hid near the banks.
  • Tuna, confused and disoriented by the sudden flood and the wildly different riverbank configuration, was swept into the trench and trapped in the net strung across the end.  From his hiding place, Maui could see Tuna thrashing and writhing in his struggle to free himself.  With a wordless scream of rage and vengeance, Maui charged.  He raised Ma-Tori-Tori above his head and brought it whistling down with a sickening thunk.  Tuna’s head, still wriggling in fear and pain, was sliced off from his body in a gout of blood and gore.  Maui wasn’t done though.  He continued to hack at the headless body of the massive eel, cutting it into smaller pieces.  
  • The head and the tail slipped through the holes in the net and were carried off to the sea.  The head, decapitated but still very magical, lived on as a much smaller creature.  Tuna’s head became the fish that bears his name.  The tail, also full of magic and mischief, grew a new head and became the much smaller but still large enough to be dangerous conger eel which inhabits the rocks and other hiding places of the sea bed, hiding from Maui’s vengeance.  Other body parts also slipped the net, and became various sea monsters and fish, which were not terribly useful.  But some parts remained in the nets, in the fresh water of the river, and these became the small common eels that Hawaiians often catch and eat.  Lastly, eels hairs and whisker washed up on shore and became the obnoxious vines and creepers that would grab people’s clothing as they went by and try to hold them.
  • With Tuna dead in such a bloody and thorough way, few other minor monsters were willing to fuck with Maui, so he and his wife were able to have more children in safety.  His family grew to spread out over the island that he had raised on the massive fish (which still shuddered from time to time from the pain of being hacked into).  Maui taught all of them his trick for catching Tuna the eel, and it became a common practice, but still sacred, and forbidden from being used for any purpose except catching and killing those assholes that grew from the king asshole that had tormented Maui and his family.
  • This story is surprisingly consistent amongst the various island peoples, with minor variations from culture to culture.  In many places, Tuna wasn’t an actual eel, he was a rival chief who rowed in a long canoe shaped like an eel.  He was jealous of Maui, made creepy suggestions to his wife about what she should do with her mouth and his cock, and killed Maui’s children to punish her for not submitting to his horrifying sexual harassment come on.  The one real major variation in the story is with the Samoan people, who tell of a woman named Sina (who is the same woman as Hina) who captured a small eel and kept it as a pet.
  • When she was a girl, her mother had found a baby eel, and brought it back for her as a pet to cheer her up.  She’d been sick a while, but having a pet cheered her up and she was soon healthy as could be.  She named the eel Tuna, and the two grew up together.  She first kept him in a small bowl in her room, but he soon grew too big, and she dug a pool for him in her yard.  She would often jump in to swim and play with Tuna, and the two became best friends.
  • The pool was enlarged several times as Tuna grew over the years.  It was quite large by the time she was a young woman, who had filled out from being all knees and elbows into a shapely, lovely woman.  One morning, she didn’t show up at the pool as usual, and Tuna was worried.  Had something happened to his one friend?  He’d strangle whatever fucker dared to hurt Sina!  She never showed up that day, but came by at the usual time the next day.
  • “Where the fuck were you, Sina?  I though someone had murdered you and left you in a ditch somewhere!”  “I’m sorry, Tuna, but I’m not a child anymore.  I can’t come by every day to play with you.  I have things I need to do during the day, and I won’t always have time to come visit.  We’ll still be friends though, silly.  I’ll just be around a little less.”  “Fuck that.  I miss you when you’re not here!  You’re not allowed to miss any more days, okay?”  
  • Sina wasn’t sure he was really getting it.  “That’s not gonna work, Tuna.  I have to weave mats, plant and harvest the taro, and other things.  And also, I will one day find a husband.”  “You most certainly will not!  You’ll marry me, Sina.  And that’s final.”  Sina didn’t like how possessive and demanding her friend the eel had become.  “I can’t marry you, Tuna.  I’m a human and you’re an eel.  That’s…weird even for a world as weird and magical as one with a talking eel.”  “But Sina, I don’t know anyone else.  I’ve never met any other eels.  I’ve spent my whole life in this pool, with you.  You can’t just abandon me!”  Although I don’t like the way he’s going about it, Tuna does have a point.  Her mother plucked him away from his entire species, and he’s never had any company except her.  His whole world is her.  It’s not that surprising that he isn’t taking this shit very well.
  • “SIna, I love you.  I know that you don’t love me.  Will you do me one favor, though?”  “What?”  “Just promise me that you’ll do it.”  “As long as you’re not about to make me promise to marry you, I’ll do what you ask.  You’re my best friend!”  Tuna had definitely considered getting her to promise to marry him, but he had a backup plan.  “Come back here tomorrow, with your father, and I’ll tell you what I want.  Make sure he brings his bush knife.  And remember, you promised that you would do whatever I asked except marriage.”
  • The next day, she came back with her dad.  The rest of her family got wind of what was happening, and like nosy shits everywhere, they decided to come along, even though they weren’t invited.  Everyone gathered around the pool, and Tuna seemed happy about the extra attention.  “Awesome.  For what I want, I need to be back at the reef.  Can you all carry me there?”
  • The whole fam-damly picked up Tuna’s wet, slippery body and hauled him the fortunately short distance to the ocean.  Sina carried his head, and her father walked right behind her.  She could hear the knife bumping on his hip, and she was starting to worry about exactly what Tuna was going to ask.  She realized that murder wasn’t exactly off the table.  Shit.  
  • Tuna slithered into the water, then coiled up on top of the reef.  “Thank you all for coming.  Sina has graciously agreed to do her oldest friend a favor, and you’re all here to witness it firsthand.  Sina, Sina’s dad, whose name I should know since I’ve known you my entire life, but it never seemed that important, take that knife and cut off my motherfucking head.”  There was a long moment of stunned, awkward silence.  Sina finally broke it.  “That’s not very funny, Tuna.  What’s the real favor?”
  • “Did I fucking stutter?  I wasn’t kidding, Sina.  I want your father to kill me.  I can’t live without you, and I don’t know how to live in the ocean anyway.  Cut off my head and bury it in a hole next to your house.  Every day, I want you to come by and pour water on it, in remembrance of the tears I shed for you, and the sacrifice I’m making for my love of you.  You promised, remember?”
  • Sina was stuck.  She’d been so worried that Tuna would try to find some clever way to trick her into marriage that it never occurred to her that he was suicidal.  “Please, Tuna.  Don’t make me do this.  I can’t bear to watch you die!”  “You should have thought about that before you abandoned me for some guy you don’t even know yet.  A promise is a promise.  Now cut this fucker off.  I’m done talking.”  Sina wept as her father did as he was asked.  He raised his massive bush knife and, with one clean stroke, slashed Tuna’s head off his writhing, bleeding body.  The head sailed into the air and rolled to a stop at Sina’s feet.  Still weeping, she picked it up and carried the bloody mess back to her house to bury it herself.
  • She kept her promise to Tuna, and even after she married Maui, she came back every day to water the head.  Soon, much to her surprise, a slender, graceful tree rose from the spot she had buried Tuna’s head.  It sported long, strong leaves and brown, hard nuts that looked a little like Tuna’s head.  The eel’s voice could be heard as the wind rustled through the leaves, telling Sina that from that day forward, the people of Samoa would have strong pillars for their homes, leaves to weave their mats and their roofs, and, best of all, they would never be hungry or thirsty again.  The coconuts could be broken open and eaten, and the coconut water would quench their thirst.  And that, boys and girls, is the story of where coconuts come from: magical eel heads that were cut off in a burst of vitriol and spite to hurt the woman he loved for not loving him back.  Sweet as the coconut, right?
  • The stories say that if you look close, you can see the eel’s head in the coconut and when you taste it, you can taste the sweetness of his love for Sina and the bitterness of his loss.  The other version of the Sina story is similar, except instead of tricking her, the eel became jealous and possessive, and tried to kidnap her.  She fled, and he chased her.  Sina’s mother created mountains to keep Tuna away, but the eel slithered over.  She ran to her village for help, but everyone was afraid of the massive eel and would not try to stop him.  Abandoned and afraid, she ran on to another village, and Maui agreed to help.  
  • He prepared awa, a powerful alcohol, and laced it with poison.  When the eel came to the village looking for Sina, Maui offered him a drink.  Tuna, parched at being out of the water for so long, gratefully agreed and drank the whole thing in one gulp.  He chased after her, but before he got very far, he felt his stomach seized up in painful knots.  Sina walked out of one of the huts with a sad look, and Tuna realized what was happening to him.  Coughing up blood, he crawled to Sina, who held his head as he died.  He apologized for trying to steal her.  “I was just afraid of losing you.  I love you.”  She kissed his snout, and he begged her to bury his head near her home so that he could always be near her.  When he ceased writhing in agony, she cut off his head, and took it home with her.  She buried it near her home, and it soon grew into the coconut tree, and the fruit grew two eyes so that it could always watch over the woman Tuna loved.
  • In my opinion, this might be the better version of the story, even though it only barely includes Maui at all.  Hina/Sina is a powerful goddess in her own right, and this is one of her best stories.  Since she’d been pretty well neglected from the last story (and from Disney’s Moana, for that matter), I thought this was a good opportunity to introduce her to everyone.  
  • Hina’s role changes in different societies and different stories.  In some (like the last Maui episode), she’s his mother.  In others, she his eldest sister, and teaches him the skill he needed to plait the ropes he captured the sun with, using a strand of her own sacred hair.  Elder sisters had an important ritualistic status in Maori society, so this was an important role for her to fill as well.
  • Hina was associated with the phases of the moon under the names Hinatea (Fair Hina) and Hinauri (Dark Hina).  There’s a story there, but now isn’t the time.  Another episode, perhaps.  
  • And now that you’re well and truly creeped out by coconuts (try using that coconut bath wash now without shuddering), it’s time for Gods and Monsters.  This is a segment where I get into a little more detail about the personalities and history of one of the gods or monsters from this week’s pantheon that was not discussed in the main story.  This week’s monster is the Samoan aitu, or evil ghost.
  • The Polynesian islands are not overly large places (the island of Samoa is only 1100 square miles), which doesn’t leave a lot of places for monsters to hide without being seen.  One solution was to place the monsters in the deep ocean, safely away from prying eyes.  The other is the aitu.
  • The word “aitu” is actually common to a lot of the Polynesian islands, although the exact meaning changes from place to place.  In Tonga, the word comes from tangi lau’aitu, which means to wail with grief, and it refers to minor, malevolent gods who can shapeshift into plants, animals, or humans, and cause endless woes ranging from the inconvenient to the downright despicable.  The Tongans believe that the aitu came from Samoa, where the aitu are seen a little differently.  
  • The Samoans (and many other island cultures) believe that the aitu are ghosts or spirits that haunt specific places or paths.  If you are palagi, or an outsider, you will often be warned to avoid going to specific places at night, to not sleep in certain rooms, or to refrain from certain things.  This isn’t because the aitu seek out foreigners, but because the poor ignorant fuckers don’t know how to stay safe from the destructive ghosts.  Many of the aitu are bound to the place they died or the road they were killed on, and you can get your ass possessed if you wander there at the wrong time.  The aitu will continue to follow the original path of the road, even if the road later changes, which helps to account for some of the hauntings.  The aitu didn’t come to you, you went to it.
  • Firstly, never whistle at night.  Whistling is the sound the aitu makes when it approaches, so you’re liable to get jumped by nervous locals if they think you might be an aitu out for blood because of careless music making.  Even if not, they will still tell you to shut the fuck up (and even give you a fine in some places), because the aitu are known to listen for the sound of whistling in the night and to be drawn to it.  I don’t care how long “Yellow Submarine” has been stuck in your head.  Don’t whistle.
  • Secondly, never gather coconuts at night.  For one, this is just sensible advice since the night hides hordes of mosquitoes, sharp edged rocks, and whipping branches to trip the unwary.  For another, aitu are known to hide out in coconuts in the nighttime, waiting for some dumb asshole to crack it open and drink the water or eat the flesh of the brown nut (that might be an eel’s head as we just learned).  If you do, congratulations!  You’re now in need of a young priest and an old priest to remove the very vengeful ghost that has definitely taken over your body.  The process is neither fun nor free, so make sure you know when the coconut you’re about to eat was gathered.  Don’t use the shady merchant under the bridge. Possession can result in some truly nasty diseases, so unless you want to literally shit yourself to death, don’t do it.  
  • Third, don’t eat in front of a grave that doesn’t hold a corpse you’re related to.  That sounds like an easy one (who eats in a graveyard?), but it’s not as simple as you think.  Graveyards don’t exist in Samoa.  Instead, family members are often buried in the yards of other family members so that they can stay close by (spirits of family can sometimes be a protective force, and of course it makes visiting your dead relatives a lot easier).  This really comes down to the dead being jealous of one of life’s most awesome simple pleasures.  Let’s be real: food tastes awesome.  If you remind an angry ghost how much they really want to taste whatever it is you’re eating in front of them, and they can’t eat any, they’ll snare you in some nasty possession shit.  Leaving food on the grave does precisely dick to ameliorate the situation, so if you break this rule, you’re pretty much fucked.  If it’s family, though, you’re fine.  After all, grannys everywhere show love with food, even after death.
  • Fourth, don’t chew gum at night.  This goes back to the third rule.  The dead hate the sound of chewing, since it reminds them of what they’ve lost, and they are likely to sneak into your gum if you drop it and pick it back up.  Yeah, that one sounds a little gross to me, but it’s apparently pretty common in Samoa.  Different strokes.
  • Last, if you have to pass through certain aitu-infested places, such as Upolu, make sure you ask the aitu for safe passage before entering.  If you don’t, they’ll violate their own rules from rule three, and somehow manage to straight up eat you.  I know they’re not supposed to be able to eat, but maybe it’s really that they can’t taste.  They can totally eat your ass, since they’re not doing it for the taste.  Don’t feel bad though.  I’m sure the aitu would say you tasted delicious, if it could taste you at all.

 

That’s it for this episode of Myth Your Teacher Hated.  Keep up with new episodes on our Facebook page, on iTunes, on Stitcher or on TuneIn, or you can follow us on Twitter as @HardcoreMyth or on Instagram as Myths Your Teacher Hated Pod.  You can also find news and episodes on our website at myths your teacher hated dot com.  I want to thank Auroramoon and Von COPodder for the international reviews on iTunes.  I only recently discovered how to look at reviews from other countries, so I apologize for taking so long to mention these.  If you’ve left a review that I haven’t mentioned, feel free to let me know where to find it.  These reviews really help increase the show’s standing and let more people know it exists.  If you have any questions, any gods or monsters you’d want to learn about, or any ideas for future stories that you’d like to hear, feel free to drop me a line.  I’m trying to pull as much material from as many different cultures as possible, but there are all sorts of stories I’ve never heard, so suggestions are appreciated.  The theme music is by Tiny Cheese Puff, whom you can find on fiverr.com.

 

Next time, we’ll be doing our annual Halloween special with something a little different.  Not everyone knows the name H. P. Lovecraft, but they do know his work.  He created one of the most enduring and influential mythos in modern culture, and it’s every bit as weird, disturbing, and entertaining as anything from the ancients, so I’ve decided to cover the story of one of his most famous monsters: Cthulhu.  You’ll see that dreams can be deadly, that worse things than the Fomor dwell in the deep, and that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.  Then, in Gods and Monsters, it’s the crawling chaos that will delight in driving you mad.  That’s all for now.  Thanks for listening.