As Matariki returns and opens the season when Maori would go into the dark forests to snare birds, I plunge into my own dark to catch new ideas.
For me, winter is a creative season, a time to catch and preserve new life so it can safely gestate in the still earth. I’m returning to something I wrote in 2011, when the Seasons Newsletter was only one year old, catching and reimaging those words in this season of reflection. This is what I wrote seven years ago:
‘I’m finding that winter writing slowly surfaces like bubbles from a fish pond, or it twinkles through the grey like Matariki peeping over the eastern horizon at dawn.
Being confined indoors becomes a blessing as wind and rain obliterate distractions. I listen in more completely.
The theme of each piece of writing discovers me, if I’m willing to sit in receptivity and allow a revelation process to take place. Listening to the muffled depths, that sound like a bell chiming at the bottom of the ocean, releases energy.
As I heed the call to emergence, I come more fully to life. I quicken, with a little thrill.
This reminds me of a moment in the south of France when, after being woken to view the distant blaze of a comet, low in the night sky, I first felt my baby’s kick in the womb. It was an annunciation, an awakening, the start of a new cycle of unfolding.
The cycles of the moon
This year I’m attuning more and more to the moon in addition to the sun cycle. My spiritual teachers from an ancient wisdom tradition of India, speak of the need to be watchful around the time of eclipses and new moon. They say that new moon is a beneficial time for meditation and other spiritual practices, but not for celebrations or significant outgoing
And so the dark days of the new moon have become retreat times for me. I love to take time at the bach then, to rest among the trees, listen to the distant roar of the ocean, feel the enfolding darkness, and to watch the stars glittering high in the night sky.
Maori moon traditions
In the Maori way of maramataka, even stronger teachings apply. The new moon is the time of Te Whiro, a being of darkness and the underworld, associated with illness, disease and evil. This is a time to be vigilant and protective.
When is the best time to celebrate Matariki?
Matariki, the return of the Pleiades, marks the Maori new year. While new moon is a good time to sight Matariki because the sky is so dark, new information suggests that new moon is not the best time to hold the Matariki celebrations. Matariki in 2018 will rise around July 6-9.
Rangi Matamua puts forward a strong case for celebrating Matariki later in the cycle, in his book Matariki: The Star of the Year(2017). He disputes the new moon start to Matariki New Year, saying that it is
‘implausible, due to Maori beliefs that Whiro (new moon) is the god of darkness, illness, disease & the origin of all ailments that afflict the world — whereas Matariki is associated with bounty.’
Matamua says that the best time to celebrate is in the tangaroa period leading up to new moon, in the last quarter of the moon cycle. This is a time of prosperity and well being. He advises that this year the celebration period falls from July 6-13.
In Northland, Heeni Hoterene and her husband Reuben Taipari have developed a maramataka calendar, after years of research and deep inquiry, using a colour code to indicate the different phases of the moon, and the activities that align with those phases. Their whanau fishes, gardens and lives by the maramataka. If you would like to order one of their calendars, visit my facebook page for more information.
Back to the quiet holding of winter
As you listen to the distant chiming of a bell, the call of your soul, what does winter want you to know?
Some people like to pick up a pen and write in a journal by way of discovery. Others like to pick up a pencil and draw, or a paint brush to make marks on paper. What is your favourite way of discovering what lies hidden? What reunion with your own self awaits you this winter?
Listen in to the gift of winter’s quiet, and the Matariki new year.
Tiakina te kākano
Nurture the seed
This blog is an excerpt from the Seasons Newsletter. To receive the Seasons Newsletter, you may sign up on the home page of this website and receive a free audio meditation.