Remnants of the Past: The Taotaomo’na
What is a taotaomo’na?
As some [or maybe many of you] have encountered: the taotaomo’na refers to the ancestral inhabitants of the Marianas or the people who came before. Most often enough, they refer to the people of the island that lived before recorded history. Their presence is met with both honor and fear but mostly out of respect for those who came before us. Besides being referred to as the ancient peoples’ spirits, the term taotaomo’na may also refer to any sort of ghost or unexplained specter. However, most CHamoru will identify these spirits as the latter. With the spirit of Halloween upon us, let us become familiar with these beings of our past. Long before the modern history of Guam and the Marianas Islands, the people who walked the land lived their lives with pride. In fact, it would be foolish to not revere these spirits with that same sense of dignity. In fact, they’re treated as members of the family. They were (and still) looked upon for help as well as guidance. However, not all taotaomo’na are as friendly as we’d like them to be. Whether you believe them or not depends on your own take. Despite this, it is important to keep in mind that there still exists an enormous amount of respect for the taotaomo’na; especially on the island.
How should you treat a taotaomo’na?
With the utmost reverence as possible! Taotaomo’na are said to help those who praise them. However, anyone who does the opposite may experience misfortunes and other acts of trickery by these mischievous spirits. There have been cases where these spirits inflict harm and cause danger to the living. So, in a sense, they have the same mindset of the typical poltergeist you hear about on television or other media sources. They can manifest themselves in different forms from an animal to a headless, humanoid figure. If one favors you enough, they will follow you religiously. In most cases, they are known to pinch those that they like; much like how we would sniff or pinch a newborn child in our culture. With that said, they might be considered playful. However, you shouldn’t always assume; especially if you know you have disrespected them in some way.
Where can you find a taotaomo’na?
If you are feeling brave and wish for an encounter with these spirits, they mainly reside in the highlands and jungle areas of Guam. However, beware, these regions are revered as sacred lands of the ancient CHamoru. As such, it is customary that we ask permission to even step foot and/or enter such places. We do so by reciting the chant: Guello yan Guella which is a phrase we use to also refer to our ancestors. One of the most prominent places is the nunu tree or banyan tree everywhere else. Its roots are noted to move on their own from time to time. While the tree itself bears fruit, it is said that eating fruit of the tree is bad luck. Failure to achieve consent can and will lead to consequences as mentioned earlier. The last thing you would want to do is anger the spirits of the past; or any spirit for that matter!
For further reading and curiosities, I highly recommend reaching out to the links provided below. Also, for your wandering curiosities, I also suggest going onto Youtube and learning the stories of those who have experienced the presence of this mischievous ancestors of ours.
The History and Lore:
Real Life Experiences