National Geographic : 1943 Jan
The National Geographic Magazine From the Outrigger the Huge Steering Oar Looks Small For the lads who clamber out on the framework to keep the speeding craft on an even keel the steersman is vital. An unexpected puff or flaw might fling them overboard. clear vision of Two things assist a departing soul along the road to Paradise: the manner in which the body has been buried, and the tattooing which it bears. The dead must be buried with feet to west ward, so that when the soul stands up out of the grave, it may walk straight forward to the western horizon. There the ancestral shades wait to welcome and guide it to the Happy Land beyond the world's western edge. But even these companions cannot help the soul to pass the Bird-headed Woman who awaits it in midocean; only the tattoo marks on its skin can avail it in her presence, for these are her food and its passport. With her long beak she picks the blue stains from the flesh and, satisfied, sends the soul forward on its way. But if she find no trace of the needle upon it, she plucks forth its eyes instead, so that it is doomed to wander blind forever, a lost soul, deserted of companions, over the empty spaces of ocean. If a soul comes safely past the Bird-headed Woman, it is led without further obstacle to the very gates of Paradise. But there an even more terrible being awaits it-the Watcher with the Net. Caught up in the net of the Watcher, the trembling shade must endure the scrutiny of his all-searching eyes. If during life the soul has been guilty of incest or of treachery to its clan, the Watcher will see its guilt and fling it into a dreary pit where, impaled on a wooden stake, it will writhe forever in torment. But if it be clean of offense, the stern guardian of the gate will release it from the net, smile, and say, "Pass on into the place called Bouro, where is neither war nor want. Eternal peace, eternal health!"