etymology of BELIAN

Paz B. Naylor pnaylor at
Sat Jul 21 03:32:38 UTC 2001

Does anyone know the word BELIAN 'spirit medium' - and its etymology/original literal meaning?

According to Dr. Penelope Flores (San Francisco State University), this is what the Tagalog word BABAYLAN 'priestess' came from.  

In 1984, I was informed that the Fijian WAQA 'boat' when reduplicated, WAGAWAGA means 'spirit medium'.  This makes me wonder if BELIAN (> *BAILAN) also had a literal meaning that, upon partial reduplication,  served as a metaphor for 'medium of transport for the spirit'.

Another question:  was the role of spirit medium restricted to women?

Thank you in advance for any information on these matters.  Paz

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