Ask Joyce: Do Chamorros have a lunar eclipse superstition?

  • Published
  • By Joyce I. Martratt
  • 36th Wing
According to historians, ancient Chamorros believed the beginning of mankind began on this tiny island in the Pacific and that they are superior in culture than any on Earth. 

They believe the god of this tiny island was called Puntan, who came into being before the Earth and sky were made. Puntan had extraordinary powers. One day though, he was dying. Puntan decided to transfer his powers to his sister. 

His sister decided to use these powers to honor her brother Puntan. So she created a beautiful island. She took different parts of Puntan's body to fulfill this endeavor. She took Puntan's body and created the Earth. She then took his breast and made the sky, the right eye as the sun, the left eye as the stars and moon and his eyebrows as the rainbows.

There was another god called Chaifi who governed the winds, waves and fire. He was creating souls using wood, stone and fire. One day, while creating souls, a great tremor took place, spewing ashes, stones and liquid fire on the Earth. This liquid fire turned into stones that softened as the sun shone on them and waves washed over them. 

When everything calmed down, the stone turned into human shape, and a man was created. This process of creation continued, and the children of the Earth were created and sent forth from this tiny island into other places.

Stories as above tell us ancient Chamorros believed they were linked to the sun, moon and stars.

When the Spanish and other Europeans came and ruled for 300 years, a mixture of cultures developed and this tiny island has a population of mestizos and mestizas. Chamorro women, who played a big role in their families, quietly integrated the ancient culture to the new. Were they fearful of the lunar eclipse? I believe they had a fear of doom when an eclipse occurred.

I don't remember the year the eclipse occurred, but I remember my mother getting us into our house when the lunar eclipse happened. She led us in prayers for protection and against harm. She then told us stories about how we could go blind while looking at the moon as it was being covered in darkness. She also said a pregnant woman would have a child with defects if she looked at the moon when it was covered in darkness.

Here are a few Chamorro words relating to the moon, stars, sky and more:
Moon: Pulan; Sky: Langet (also means heaven); Star: estreyas, puti'on; Earth: tano; Eye: átadok or mata; Eyebrow: sehas; Rainbow: isa.

si Joyce I. Martratt