'Kahausibware' can also refer to...


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A serpentine female spirit revered in the Solomon Islands. Long ago, when the fruits of the earth grew without labour, Kahausibware made men, pigs, other animals, and trees. But she also introduced death into the world. When the first woman left the first baby with the snake spirit, and went off to work in her garden, the infant screamed ceaselessly. Unable to tolerate the din, a weakness incidentally shared by the ancient Mesopotamian gods, Kahausibware coiled herself round the baby and strangled it. The mother returned while the snake's body was still partly wound round her child, and seizing an axe she started to hack the snake to pieces. Though Kahausibware had the power to rejoin the severed parts, she disliked this treatment and made off to a distant island. As she swam away, she flung out this taunt: ‘Who will help you now?’ Since that day things were never the same.

A culture myth of the Admiralty Islands also revolves round a snake spirit. Once a woman entered the forest and met a serpent. After some initial reluctance the woman agreed to marry the serpent, and she bore a boy and a girl. Then the serpent sent her away so that he alone could nurture the children. When they were quite big, he told them to catch and cook some fish. But they warmed the fish with the sun's rays, and ate the food, still raw and bloody. At this the serpent said: ‘Spirits you are, eaters of raw meat. Perhaps you will eat me.’ And he commanded the boy to crawl into his belly, but the child was afraid and asked the reason for this order. ‘Bring out the fire’, replied the serpent, ‘and gave it out to your sister! Then gather coconuts, yams and bananas.’ The boy did as he was bid, and with the flame they cooked the vegetables. When the children had eaten, the serpent asked, ‘Is my kind of food or yours better?’ They answered, ‘Yours! Our kind is bad.’ In this manner, say the Admiralty islanders, were the rudiments of society first introduced.

Subjects: Religion.

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