Oceania is a region centred on the islands of the tropical Pacific Ocean. Often it is divided into three subregions of Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia. Definitions vary (some include the Japanese Archipelago), but they do include Australia and New Zealand. We have already discussed indigenous Australian beliefs (Google "flying uteruses" if you want to know more about that), and the Maori peoples of NZ probably warrant an episode all of their own. So today we are going to focus on the smaller nations and communities in this area. Of course we are going to include the recent home of DJS: Guam.
Because "Oceania" covers such a large area and encompasses a wide range of peoples, we are not going to delve into every single religious belief out there, but we'll focus on some of the more intriguing ones.
But first, Joe has just returned from his "motherland" of Italy. Tell us a little about your trip.
*the night bus story
*Marco and I kept cracking hideously offensive jokes while in the Vatican and its amazing cathedral and were generally hard to hush up
*The name of the vineyard
So, let's swap hemispheres and take a tour around Oceania.
QUEEN OF HEAVEN
by David J. Stewart
"The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke me to anger." -Jeremiah 7:18
So if you were to switch up the jobs, it'd be provoking his happiness?
All Catholics today, Roman and Russian Orthodox alike, worship Mary as the Queen of Heaven. One only has to do a web search under "Queen of Heaven" to prove that Catholics do worship the Queen of Heaven (over 5,000 images show up on Google alone).
- What Catholics don't realize (or care to realize) is that the Queen of Heaven originated from pagan Babylonian goddess worship. We read in Jeremiah about the Babylonian Queen of Heaven (Jeremiah 7:18, 44:17, 44:18, 44:19, 44:25). Jeremiah 7:18 plainly states that God hates idolatry and it provokes Him to anger.
So... Catholics worship the Babylonian Queen of Heaven? Lol talk about a leap of logic. I know the hate center of Stewart's brain has long since collapsed into the lobe containing information about people besides himself and Jack Hyles, but even so he should be able to make the distinction; it's not called the Babylonian Catholic Church.
- The Queen of Heaven that all Catholics serve and worship, is the SAME abominable Queen of Heaven found in ancient Babylon. The Catholic Church is a conglomerate of false religions—from Dagon, the half man/half fish god of the Philistines, to the Babylonian Queen of Heaven. Catholicism is a prisonhouse of religion, who's doctrines have been INVENTED throughout the centuries. Satan is a master deceiver, and knows that the BEST lies originate with the truth, and then he adds or subtracts, to turn the truth into a lie.
Actually the best lie is "bananas are plank straight and a very bright shade of violet"; Satan needs to try touring the world with that one.
Emma: How can Roman Catholics be mistakenly worshiping the Babylonian Queen of Heaven... if she doesn't actually exist?
- Carefully notice the things that God considers as idolatry when done in worship to the Queen of Heaven:
- the CHILDREN gather wood for the fire,
- the FATHERS kindle the fire,
- and the WOMEN knead their dough.
- The whole family is involved in idolatry. Everything that Catholics do for the Queen of Heaven is sinful idolatry.
Yes, yes, the WOMEN knead the dough of the FATHERS to "kindle the fire," but where are the MOTHERS during all this?
Emma: How many Google Images results for "Catholics worshiping Mary via bonfire baking"
All over the world today, Catholics have one celebration after another, in honor to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Heaven. Notice in Jeremiah 7:18 that they also worship "other gods." In many Catholic cultures, such as the island of Guam, a different Catholic Saint is honored each month, and a village festival is held on the Saint's behalf. This is idolatry and is provokes God to anger. Isaiah 42:8 warns that God will not share His glory and praise, which are rightfully His to receive, with others.
You know, when your God is ALWAYS pissed--as he must be, given nobody on the planet actually follows his book--I think the problem may lie with him. Are you sure the answer isn't a sesh of divine anger management?
Every time that Catholics avoid meat, observe Lent, or bake cakes to celebrate the Immaculate Conception of Mary, they are committing horrible idolatry.
We here at Meat Mutant agree that avoiding meat is a horrible affront to nature, and that Lent should only be observed when others are doing it and you're "observing" them while flaunting juicy five-patty bear burgers. However baking cakes MUST be allowed when celebrating the rising of the Yeaster holiday.
^ horrible joke alert
Emma: It's too late
In fact, we are giving up something in order to spend that time in prayer. Most people don't pray because they are living for their belly (Philippians 3:19). Biblical fasting and prayer are inseparable. In contrast, Catholics practice their religious dietary restrictions as sacrifices to impress God. God is not impressed (1st Samuel 15:22; Mark 7:7-13).
"They didn't fast while saying the magic words, which DOES impress God!"
Catholicism is a lie of the devil, a prison-house of religion. If I didn't sincerely care about people, then I wouldn't take the time to WARN you. The Catholic religion is all a bunch of Satanic lies based upon traditions and ridiculous manipulations of the Word of God. I plead with you as a friend, obey the Bible by turning to the Lord Jesus Christ in faith and forsaking the Mother of Harlots. The Great Whore of the Catholic Church will take you to hell with them if you're foolish enough to follow them. Don't do it. Salvation is NOT found in a religion, but in a Person—the Lord Jesus Christ! You need Christianity friend, NOT churchianity.
Salvation is inside a person, the Lord Jesus! AFTER HIM! He's getting away!!
Emma: I imagine it like one of those family restaurant placemats with the mazes, only it's inside Jesus and the endgoal is salvation
Let's swing by Micronesia!
Right off the gate with a Quoth Wikipedia:
Olifat  was a trickster god in Micronesian mythology. Olifat was the son of a god, and a mortal named Tarisso. Tarisso was the daughter of the octupus goddess Hit. When his father's wife did not attempt to prevent his union with Tarisso, Hit danced so lewdly that the woman fainted and had to be carried back to the sky, thus permitting Olifat's conception.
Emma: Was Olifat perhaps fellows with Transfat and Saturatedfat
THE OCTOPUS GODDESS DANCED SO LEWDLY THAT IT MADE A WOMAN FAINT
Emma: That'd make Hit Olifat's grandma, right?
Yeah, jeez. Imagine your grandma holding her erotic dancing hobby over your head as the reason you were born.
Emma: Yeah, she'd be all like "I would never have succeeded in letting your father sire your illegitimate ass had it not been for my, mhmmm, NAUGHTY tentacles."
No wonder Olifat grew up so fucked up. Quoth Wikipedia:
Olifat was born from his mother's head. Immediately after his birth, he ran away, cleaning the blood from himself on the trunks of palm trees and biting off his own umbilical cord, refusing to be touched by human hands. His mother, Tarisso, was warned never to let him drink from a coconut with a small hole, for fear that the young god would discover his father's identity. However, Olifat found such a coconut and, tipping his head back to drain the milk, saw his father in the heavens.
Emma: So... Olifat never looked to the heavens until he tipped his head to drain the milk from a coconut with an overly small hole.
Was his dad all awkwardly like "Heyyy there.... son. Howya dooooin' sport"
Emma: Heady stuff. By the way, can we please discuss how he was born from his mother's head, immediately ran for the hills, and bit off his own umbilical cord? I think that bears repeating.
Daycare with Olifat must have been a nightmare. Olifat would have easily enfolded all the other babies into his rebel leadership with his Rambo ass badassery
Emma: Terrible twos meant two seconds for him
Such is the play of a trickster god. Speaking of which, quoth Wikipedia:
Olifat was jealous of his siblings, believing them to be more attractive than him. Seeing two of his nephews playing with a shark, Olifat out of spite gave the shark sharp teeth with which to bite the boys' hand. His sister identified her brother as the culprit, with the result that the gods decided to recall Olifat to Heaven, given that he was causing too much trouble on earth.
lol ugly god-babies
Emma: Their ways are not our own. Also, goddamn how sharp must those teeth have been? Shark teeth are already pretty damn sharp, are they not?
What if he gave them like multiple rows of gopher teeth lol. Actually, this is the explanation for why sharks enjoy sharp teeth to begin with. So theoretically Olifat could have used that spell on any animal; picture your ordinary household kitten purring with no end of fangs. He is also the man behind stingray tails and scorpionfish spines, along with all manner of nasty things. But the Olifun doesn't stop there
Travelling to Heaven to visit his father, Olifat caused chaos for the gods, overturning their pans, keeping them awake and seducing their daughters. Aware of their animosity, Olifat faked his own death by climbing into the foundations of a house the gods were building. When the other gods thrust a post into the hole he was in, Olifat hid in a specially dug alcove and threw up handfuls of chewed leaves and red mud. The gods, convinced that they had seen Olifat's viscera spurting out, assumed that he was dead and filled in the hole. However, Olifat used the mid-rib of a palm leaf to burrow up through the wooden post and into the rafters of the building, where he banged a coconut shell and pretended to be an evil spirit. The other gods were afraid, but one saw through his offspring's trick and ordered him down
A bit much to process, isn't it
number one, that the gods were dumb enough to mistake chewed leaves and red mud for the kid's spilled guts. two, don't bang a coconut and pretend to be an evil spirit, that's just uncouth. And also a bit of a step down from your first gambit
Emma: Yeah, don't bang a coconut, no matter how snug the hole
best joke, best joke
Emma: Do you think this podcast has ripped its umbilical cord off yet?
No but it definitely hit the ground running
Now let's touch down a specific island in Micronesia: Guam, DJS's homeland!
The indigimenous people of Guam are known as "The Chamorro People" (Chamorro, Chamorro, I luv ya, Chamorro.......).
The Chamorro people believe in a singular world in which people and spirits live in the same place or plane of existence. All that exists is a testament to cooperation between the ancestral spirits of Chamorros and those currently alive today. Since those who made the world are of us, and we are of them, then we all made the world (I made the world - kick arse). BTW, sounds like a Michael Jackson song.
According to Chamorro legend, the world was created by a twin brother and sister, Puntan and Fu'uña. These two are not seen as deities, but as the first ancestors of the Chamorro people. As he was dying, Puntan told his sister to make his body the ingredients for the universe (now there's a dish that would win My Kitchen Rules). So, she used his eyes to create the sun and moon, his eyebrows to make rainbows, and most of the rest of his parts for various features of the Earth *put in some very immature suggestions* . When she was finished, she turned herself into a rock on the island of Guam, and from this rock emerged human beings. Some think that this rock is the penis-shaped "Laso de Fua" located a Bay in SW Guam. Coz, like, Fu'uña would turn herself into a geological feature shaped like a dick - obviously.
Joe: So if his eyes were the sun and moon does that mean one of his eyes was a million times bigger than the other?
As for the creation of Guam itself, we turn to the ancient Chamorro spirit, Chaifi (the god of what your nipples and crotch are like after running a marathon). No srsly, Chaifi lived in a sort of hell equivalent--a volcano--and made souls to be his slaves in a soul forge. Chaifi built a huge fire that sploded, and one of the souls escaped in all the fiery confusion. This soul ended up in the south part of Guam, where it turned into a rock. As it got rained upon, the rock turned into a man. One similarity between these stories is that, once again, the big dick shaped rock in the bay is the remnant of this rock.
So after having a bit of vacation time exploring Guam, Rock Guy got a bit lonely. So he got some dirt and water and made a bro and used the sun to give him a soul (MM style). Oh, and apparently he made a woman too. Always a good idea if you wanna make more people later but don't want to get all muddy again.
NO MEAT MUTANT, FOR THE LAST TIME YOU'RE NOT GETTING A MATE
Meanwhile, Chaifi got the fire under control and did a soul count. Once he realised he had lost one, he got pretty grumpy. So, he went searching for the one that got away. He came a across a little kid on a beach and thought "A ha! Gotcha, you little bitch". Chaifi got his tsunami on in attempt to reclaim his lost soul, BUT, the kid got away and gave him the finger. Chaifi tried to kill the kid in lots of other ways *insert novel ways to kill kids here* (excessive dough kneading). When the kid, dogged as ever, grew up, he told Chiafi that he couldn't destroy him or all the other souls made by the sun. Chiafi said "Bummer, dude", and returned to his kinda hell place and sulked b/c he was such a loser.
I guess there may or may not be gods and may or may not be a heaven and hell in the beliefs of the native people of Guam. Regardless, we can always count on the penis rock to be part of the story.
Over time, the spirits of the ancestors which helped the Chamorros, and whom they venerated, prayed to and celebrated in their homes and rituals, were replaced by Catholic saints. Simultaneously, those spirits that were perceived to be angry and causing trouble for those still alive, were soon seen as mere devils and demons. No word yet on whether the Babylonian Queen of Heaven has prepared her immigration papers.
Ancient Chamorus engaged in ancestor veneration, but did not practice "religion" in the sense that they worshipped deities. However, there is at least one account, provided by Christoph Carl Fernberger in 1623, that human sacrifice was practiced to curry the favor of a "great fish". This claim may be related to a Chamoru legend about why the island of Guam is narrow in the middle. According to the legend, a massive fish was gradually eating away at the island from both sides. Although the ancient Chamoru supposedly had magical abilities, the creature, though huge, was elusive. When the men were unsuccessful in hunting it down, the women used their hair to weave a net which grew larger as they sang. The singing enchanted and lured the fish, and they used the giant net to catch it.
Just to add to that, the ancients were called taotaomo’na and they not only had magical powers, but were also giants. They are the spirits of the ancient Chamorros. "Early Spanish accounts of Chamorros did not include any mention of Taotao Mo'na. The concept of Taotao Mo'na therefore appears to have emerged during the Spanish occupation and was created by the Chamorros who "turned to the memory of their Before Time Ancestors for pride and comfort.""
Although wouldn't that spark the rather uncomfortable question of why it is they became small and weak?
"Despite the modernity of most Chamorros, there is still a healthy respect for Taotao Mo'na. It is thought that if they are offended, they can cause bad influences in a particular location or towards a particular person. Taotao Mo'na are believed to inhabit any secluded natural place on the island particularly in the south of the island. Locals and "traditional" Chamorros claim that one must request permission from the Taotao Mo'na before entering the jungle or taking fruit or wood from it. Another enduring superstition is their dislike of pregnant women. Pregnant Chamorro women are often told to use perfume to mask their scent or to wear their husband's clothing, and to stay indoors at night to keep taotaomo'na away."
Don't even get the Taotao'mona started on mpreg
"Some Taotao Mo'na are described as being headless and malicious if their land is not respected, while some are said to be gentler spirits who aid local witch doctors, called suruhanas or suruhanus. Taotao Mo'na have been known to pinch, bruise, imitate voices and kidnap children for short periods of time. People also claim taotaomon'a can become attached to certain people they like, making them ill - and only a visit to a suruhana can make the spirit go away."
The only forest spirits worth anything are the little white kodama from Princess Mononoke that rattle their heads; that movie also taught me that beheading a forest spirit is the absolute last thing you want to do
"The Taotao Mo'na were investigated in a segment of the Syfy television show Destination Truth entitled "Guam Zombies," where they were (incorrectly) said to appear as zombie-like; however, the Taotao Mo'na are not zombies, but ancestral spirits that are said to live within banyan trees. The trees themselves are said to have moving roots that change direction every night."
That's fucking disgusting, we'd never misrepresent the noble and twin-penised, polka-dot-furred spirits of a people like that
The Modekngei of PalauEdit
Originating in 1915, Modekngei is a syncretic pastiche of ancient Palauan customs and Christianity practiced by around 2,000 people. Jesus is our Lord and Savior, but he's got to make space for all the native goddesses. Jesus may be seated at the right hand of the father but the father has more than one hand
Emma: I think you just logicked me into converting to Modekngei
Not so fast because the Modekngei goddess can flex some serious muscle. Give her an inch and she takes a mile, I swear. Alcohol, tobacco and drugs are forbidden, lest she flood the town with terrifying tempest rains! The Modekngei community is very small so it would basically rout them. In order to appease her in case any outsiders flouted that rule, priests will hang treats such as fruit for her on branches.
Emma: You know, you'd think the gods would prefer their ambrosia or whatever to random cow sacrifices or kumquats dangling from trees or what have you. I mean isn't appeasing the gods with a banana kind of belitting them? Here lil' goddy woddy poo, I know you're angry but have a Snickers break.
I'm sure the Modekngei goddess give the bananas a very withering stare. To wit, believers need to make their village and houses spic and span in the days leading up to each full moon (complete with mowed lawns) because during the full moon, she can glower down on the sins of her people with maximum visibility.
Emma: No wonder they wanted Jesus. He's a modicum more forgiving. Though with him the surveillance is 100% at all times I'd prefer a god who's just a voyeur, I don't want any judgement attached and she could appreciate my meatspin without pause. In any case, the religion spread by a man who saw god and began to sing general Palauan hymns, culminating in rumors he'd been able to resurrect a girl from the dead. Emma: Wait, that's not in the Wikipedia article...
That's because I'm reading the Japanese Wikipedia article. I can do that. That means I'm the first to be disseminating this info to this particular audience, namely the audience of snarky atheist knowledge-wanters who enjoy madcap antics and happen to be Anglophonic. I AM GODSENT.
Emma: cool story bro
As for why Japanese, it's because Imperial Japan occupied/colonized tons of islands in the Pacific, Guam and Palau included, incidentally with a less than stellar record of war horrors.
Back to our little tale of religion-building, in an incident in 1917 Tamadad (and his compatriot) failed to heal some terminally ill folks after three days of incessantly chanting "AWAKEN, AWAKEN" and since their relatives had paid them a fee to do it, they harbored a grudge. Upon overhearing this, a man working under the Japanese filed a complaint with the colonial authorities against Modekngei's stricture forbidding followers from getting treated Japanese clinics--after which they were imprisoned. After being freed, they began to incorporate Christian elements to their place of worship, naturally including a cross, and more weirdly a spear. They also invented a new god that had not existed in the native pantheon up until then, a god of money making and windfall. However, the thing that probably REALLY reeled 'em in was their abolition of dietary taboos. Smart.
Now, listeners, imagine my expression when I translated the following line.
"In 1924, Founder Tamadad died, and his successor Ongesi became the second leader. While guiding the religious organization on one hand, he also led an extremely disturbed sex life."
He ordered patients to have sex with him or else they'd be flouting God's decree and inviting their maladies to return. He'd take oodles of women to an uninhabited island and proclaim "Let us recognize that we all may take another man's wife as our own" followed by relations all night long. Many were not pleased with husband and wife alike shouting "we've been had." They'd signed up for a religion that would net them riches, not this. However Ongesi countered that they were all being too blunt. Lol.
The Japanese forces clamped down on Modekngei for the crimes of fraud and adultery. Subsequently, the hymns of Modekngei began to bleed with anti-Japanese sentiment. Religious fervor peaked when the Pacific war of the early 40s broke out, embroiling Palau in war not experienced since time immemorial. Moreover, Ongesi was incarcerated countless times while leader; at one point predicting "now I leave holding a bento box of rice; soon I shall return holding one of bread"--Japan's defeat, in other words, was at hand. But his words would prove empty, since although he was liberated from his imprisonment in Saipan, before he could make it back to his homeland, he got into a quarrel with a friend and killed him in the heat of the moment, thereafter killing himself in despair.
The third leader of the church fashioned a protective charm that became so popular requests flooded in even from outside the domain of Modekngei--including Japanese soldiers and auxiliary personnel themselves. When Palau passed into American hands after the war, Modekngei's insistence that followers avoid medical treatment at clinics persisted and made enemies of them, too. That being said, Modekngei's wartime surge abated in peacetime. The new Puritanical code against smoking and drinking most likely didn't help.
Perhaps one of the most notable belief systems found amongst the peoples of Oceania is that of "The Cargo Cult".
The term "Cargo Cult" was first used around the 1940s and is seen by many as derogatory and inaccurate. There has been a lot of debate about why these movements form and how they should be described.
A cargo cults have developed after contact between native island peoples of Melanesia and commercial networks of colonizing societies. The name derives from the belief that assorted practices and rituals will lead to a bestowing of material wealth (or "cargo") upon the native people. Along these lines, Cargo Cults have been described as "millenialist movements", because they predict an accumulation of wealth.
Cargo cults have several common characteristics. These include:
· A "myth-dream" that synthesises indigenous and foreign elements (I have no idea what that means)
· Expectation of help from ancestors
· Charismatic leaders
· Belief in the appearance of the abundance of goods
The cultural context in which Cargo Cults develop goes like this. Indigenous Melanesian societies typically used a political system in which people gained status through exchanging gifts. So the more wealth a man could distribute, the more people would be in his debt, and thus his fame and standing would increase. People who were unable to give gifts back in exchange were known as "rubbish men".
You can imagine what happened when rich white dudes with seemingly endless supplies of everything arrived in town. Everyone else felt like "Rubbish Men" because there was no way in hell they could reciprocate what us white colonial arseholes were giving them. Thus, the Melanesian people experience what is known as "value dominance" - basically, they fucked themselves with their own beliefs. Many Cargo Cults originated around WWII, as the indiginous people of Melanesia were exposed to examples of American and Japanese material wealth and technological superiority such as warships, aeroplanes and air-drops of food, medicines and other goods they had no way of manufacturing themselves.
Joe: Come now, I'm sure they had enough cows to rub together to outbuy whatever number of enemy militaries
Unfortunately for the Melanesians, they didn't realise that all the crap the invaders had and were giving them was made in hugely populated countries in factories and with cheap/slave labour. So, they assumed that the goods must have been made by their Gods or ancestors, through spiritual means. Ergo, it was assumed that the goods that the colonisers had were actually meant for the Melanesian people, and that us whiteys had unfairly obtained them by mistake or arse-holery. So a feature of Cargo Cults is the belief that, at some time in the future, spirits will redistribute all these valuables to the Melanesian people (their rightful owners).
Because Westerners are seen as the holders of wealth and desirable goods, symbols of Christianity and Western Civilisation tend to be used as "magical artefacts" in rituals. Examples of this include cross shaped grave markers, setting up mock airstrips and offices, and making fake radios from local ingredients such as coconuts and straw. Believers may also mimic the actions of Westerners by staging events like military drills with stick rifles and insignia painted on their bodies. The reasoning behind this kind of thing is that maybe if you look and act like the guys with all the good stuff, some might be sent your way as well.
Some Cargo Cults continue, such as the John Frum cult in Vanuatu (on Tanna Island where I went last year). The history of this particular "Cargo Cult" is quite interesting and varies depending on what you read.
Adapted (largely copied) from Skeptoid:
It all began when the dangly parts of the scandalous inhabitants of what is now Vanuatu provoked the dislight of their 18th century colonizers, among whom were Scottish Presbyterian missionaries. In response to getting thoughtlessly assaulted by the natives' penile system, they struck back with the imposition of their penal system--with accompanying delegalization of ritual dancin, polygamy, swearing, drinking, and summoning any measure of joy. The missionaries sentenced those who were caught enjoying themselves in any way to toil and shackles.
So basically the people of Vanuatu were fucked and needed someone to help them out of a holy hole. Enter John Frum. His legend began in the 30s; initially said to be a native in Western attire, he eventually evolved into an outsider--an American. John Frum grandiosely championed the people and promised that if they followed him, they'd be able to return to their original ways without giving up hope for the material goods the missionaries introduced to the islands. The colonial authorities, foolishly, set out to make some marytrs.
After World War II necessitated more of the wealthy Westerners' attention be focused on the Pacific front, any shortage of goods and work vanished--the fulfillment of Frum's words, no doubt.
The origins of the name John Frum are not known. One possibility is that it's a simple contraction of "John from America"
Ems tried to go to a John Frum ceremony while staying on Tanna Island, but.....
Polynesia is a huge swath of the Pacific Ocean with thousands of small islands, but since they were seafaring and intrepid peoples for the most part, they can be said to share a general myth-bank. Keep in mind, however, that the versions of these legends that were copied down in print were not the same as the tales that always changed with the teller--as is always the case with oral tradition, myths were not standardized, and always shifted to legitimize or explain the contemporary regime or state of affairs.
New Zealand's Maori culture is Polynesian, so the Polynesian arch-mythology will be discussed in a separate episode. Of note in this episode is the baffling history and mythos of Easter Island, with its iconic moai statues giving travelers from all over the world condescending shit-eating grins for generations.
The non-invader name for Easter Island is "Rapa Nui", so we'll use that term from now on. It roughly translates as "Big Stone Elvis Heads." not rly tho
Their most important rituals seem to be associated with death. The Rapa Nui people believed that their ancestors' spirits could help them when needed, because they hung around with the rellies for a couple of years after the actual person was dead. This spiritual energy was called "mana", and had the ability to influence wordly events for a long time. This belief in the long term power and influence of the spirits of ancestors led to funeral rituals re the handling of the dead. Corpses were wrapped in vegetable fabric and exposed to the open air in a stone platform called an "ahu" until they decomposed. The skull was detached and engraved, and the bones were washed and deposited in a funeral chamber in the same platform so the spirit could reunite with its ancestors in the spirit world far away to the west. When a tribe chief or other important person died, a moai (one of the big Elvis head stone statues) was sculpted, transported to their village and placed on an ahu. Once it was erected, it was given eyes made of coral and obsidian and a red scoria hat. This allowed the moai to get their mana on and exercise their power. The Mana is the mental, supernatural and sacred power shared by the chiefs of the tribes and their priests and sorcerers. This power could be channeled both to benefit themselves... and to curse their enemies. In fact, it is said that the ancient islanders resorted to this psychic and supernatural power in order to transport the moai, and that the statues walked to their destination because of it. Apparently there were over 600 moai on the island, and they always faced their village in order to protect it.
Around the 17th and 18th century, apparently there was strife amongst the people due to a shortage of food, and moais and ancestor worship weren't so easy any more. This is when the belief in Make-Make (or a creator god) started to prevail and the Birdman (or Tangata Manu) ceremony started being celebrated. The birdman is also known as the bird of luck (or "suckfuckaluckaduck" or Manutara in the native language). The ritual is conducted annually in a ceremonial village which overlooks the three islets of Rapa Nui. Competitors were revealed in a dream by prophets, and would choose "Hopu" grunt men to do their physical competing for them. The grunts would wait in the caves of the largest islet, and whoever took the first egg of a Manutara (or a sooty tern) was the winner. The guy who got the egg would then have to swim back to the village with the egg on his head to give it to his patron, who was consecrated as the birdman. After 3 days, the egg was drained, filled with vegetable fibres and placed on the birdman's head, where it was worn for a year while he remained in seclusion in a ceremonial house. The new birdman or Tangata-Manu would be given a new name (usually "Gareth") and was entitled to gifts of food and other tributes like having sole rights to collect that season's harvest of wild bird eggs and chicks).
Joe: I collect chicks all the time
This was no light evening jog. Getting eaten by sharks was a not uncommon fate for the poor Hopu, to say nothing of the exceedingly high drop should one's purchase on the cliff face slip from surety.
This badass and bizarre yearly dash was suppressed by missionaries in the late nineteenth century, unfortunately. Don't worry, in exchange for giving up the soul of their culture they received great riches in turn, such as mass illness and death, making for very hectic days in between incursions by Peruvian slave raiders. Mass hyper-fast extinction beats Sunday mass, you guys dodged a HUUUGE bullet there. Speaking of which, inscriptions of the Birdman do appear on the island's church, a testament to its enduring appeal.
Quoth Wikipedia: The trans-Neptunian dwarf planet, originally designated 2005 FY9, is named Makemake in an allusion to the shared connection of the dwarf planet and Easter Island with Easter. (The dwarf planet was discovered shortly after Easter 2005; the first European contact with Easter Island was on Easter Sunday 1722.) The dwarf planet's code name was "Easterbunny".