Huli Ritual Matter

The Huli used many elements of the natural environment in the execution of gamu rites at these sacred sites. The section on the natural world of the Huli describe the intimate association of the people with nature and showed how the Huli use their environment in life, especially in rituals. As previous sections have revealed, the Huli ritually use sticks, clay, tree oil, crops, water, animals, pig blood and fat, and stones in their rituals.

Auwi is the generic term for the five different types of ritual stones. Hone are large, round black stones often associated with the sun god, Ni. These auwi are also known as Ni habane or the sun god’s seeds. Nitangi, sacred stones which resemble a mortar and pestle, were most likely used by a previous agricultural society now extinct. Dini aiya (earth + mother) are small, elongated stones buried in gardens to increase their fertility. Toro stonnes, small pebbles painted with red clay, are imbued with the power and presence of Toro and emit dangerous spiritual particles that cause death. Liru is the generic term for Toro stones associated with sorcery. Erepale stones are shaped like a fish with mouth and eyes. This type of stone was most likely used in the important Kelote gebeanda.

Certain rock formations are also considered sacred. A large boulder located deep in the ritual forest near Natali is believed to be the petrified remains of the clan founder. The people revere it and used to place offerings before it. The Kelote cave is also revered as the dwelling of Helahuli and is covered with red paint and tree oil.

Sacred stones and rock formations were believed to be imbued with the presence of the particular dama, but are not considered to be the dama itself. They are revered with ritual anointing with pig fat, red paint, and tree oil but are not worshipped. The association of these stones with gardens or people transfers the power (gamu) of the dama to the subject causing dreams, fertility, sickness and death.

Sacred stones are usually kept in a ritual house or buried in ritual forests. The forested area around sacred rock formations are considered keba and function as ritual grounds. Sacred stones and rock formations were revered as powerful objects. Sacred stones are especially powerful and were brought to the Catholic churches by people who held them askance in tin cans at arm’s length so fearful are they of their power.