Missing Matariki

by | Jul 11, 2019 | Seasons Newsletter | 16 comments


It’s June, and here in New Zealand an important event has occurred in the night sky: the return of Matariki, a beautiful star cluster that many will know by its European name: The Pleiades.


Matariki the wanderer dips above and below the horizon, teasing with its inconstancy. In both northern and southern hemispheres, it is sadly missed when it wanders away, and greeted with joy when it slips back again.

Why is this constellation treasured by so many cultures throughout the world?


Home of gods and goddesses


It is the home of the gods/goddesses and the ancestors. When Matariki disappears, the watchful guidance of those twinkling eyes is lost; when it reappears, the gods and ancestors resume their role of guiding things from above.

The Greeks felt the same. The poet Hesiod advised mariners to stay on land when the Pleiades disappeared and its protection was withdrawn. This is a constellation that watches over earth dwellers wherever they are. It is well loved and treasured.



Have you seen it?

For many years I longed to see Matariki. Then in 2007 I awoke in the vast space of the Australian desert. It was 3 a.m. as I wriggled out of my swag, shivering in the chill. I raised my eyes to the night sky and there it was, a brilliant, glittering cluster of seven main stars and dozens of tiny companions. It was just the way that ancient peoples all over the world have seen this constellation in their inky night skies.

There I stood on the red desert earth, receiving Matariki, the wonder and the tenderness of it. I remembered how Maori have always greeted the wanderer with vigorous dancing, chanting and tears of joy. Now I knew why.


Be with your longing


Do you know that feeling of missing someone, or something, so much that you ache with longing?

Sometimes the feeling is more subtle, a vague sense of something missing, but what can it be?

The Maori celebration of Matariki reminds me of this deeper theme, the theme of loss and return. It’s a theme that can visit us in any season. Even though my parents died over 20 years ago, I can still get a sudden stab of longing, out of the blue. It may be triggered by a significant event in my life that they are not there to enjoy, or the source may be unknown.

Maybe you miss a person, or an animal, a home or a country. Or maybe your ‘Matariki’ is a sense of connection with your vitality, creativity or spirituality, that for some reason has wandered far out of reach.

According to spiritual teachers

 what you are longing for is already within you.

By this they mean that the act of longing opens your heart and invites the Beloved in. When I let myself feel those stabs of longing, and be in their company, inviting the sense of loss into my heart, I’ve found myself flooded with love, as if my mother, or my father is with me once more.



At the heart of your longing is a gift

I’d like to encourage you to stay with your longing, whatever it is.
In the deep well of longing lies a gift.

Would you like guidance to enter the depths and discover what lies hidden?
If so, check out my Winter Attunement home ritual.


‘It seems to me we can never give up longing and wishing
while we are still alive. There are certain things we feel to be beautiful and good,
and we must hunger for them.’
—George Eliot’

Matariki blessings,


This post 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.


  1. Hilary

    Hi Juliet – lovely post … and yes when the Pleiades appear in our sky – usually August … I note that they’ve arrived – but not where they are .. also we’re in a light zone.

    I’m really interested in the Greeks words re the Pleiades or Matariki … so interesting to read about … and I love Tennyson’s words … all the best – from a still cold south coast – cheers Hilary

    • Juliet Batten

      Hilary, nice to hear from you in the UK, and I wish you a nice sighting of the Pleiades in August.

  2. Honor Freeman

    Hi Juliet – I would love to be part of the next Sacred Art of Ritual course, but when I clicked on the link to find out more details, the dates seem to be for a course that was held last year. In your newsletter it says that the course starts on July 19th (my birthday!), but I’d like to check what the times are and how much the course is.

    • Juliet Batten

      Hi Honor, and anyone else who went to the page on June 3; there was a glitch in updating it, but it was quickly fixed. All updated here, and do take a look if you want to know more about the Sacred Art of Ritual course: http://www.julietbatten.co.nz/sacred-art-ritual/

  3. virginia garlick

    I love this post, Juliet. Longing is part of my each and every day. That sense of having treasures within me as I respond deeply to the moment. Thank you for sharing your stories in these newsletters, I will go out into the night and look for Matariki. Do some call it the Southern Cross, or is that different? My stargazing father often asked me if I had seen it down under, and today I am longing to talk to him about it again, because he never got to see me in my adopted country, but he was versed in many things of NZ history. When I feel my mother within me it is similar to looking out into the night sky, the connection I still have with her after 14 yrs of her passing is there in the universal I am.

    • Juliet Batten

      Virginia, thank you for this lovely comment. How wonderful to have a star-gazing father, and to feel the connection with your mother so beautifully. The Southern Cross is a different constellation. Matariki is close to the horizon, which makes it difficult to spot, especially in the city, but there are times when it rises a bit higher.

  4. Sue Cooper

    A few years ago I found out about the Polynesian Goddess Matariki and introduced her through information and ritual to my Circle group. Another interesting fact I found is that the Japanese name for Matariki is Subaru, a name popularised globally by the car maker which bears these stars in its logo. Subaru translates as “united” or “getting together”. It was really interesting to look at all the different interpretations of Matariki. Thank you for your lovely article, I really enjoyed it. By the way, I am really enjoying your book Juliet. Many blessings.

    • Juliet Batten

      Sue, thank you so much for adding in this information. I too have been intrigued by the Japanese name Subaru. The Pleiades have so many names in so many cultures, including Australian aborigines. It’s so nice to have your appreciation, and I’m glad you are enjoying Celebrating the Southern Seasons. Blessings to you too.

  5. Dana Leigh Lyons

    Lovely reading of the wandering, wondrous home of gods and goddesses, Juliet…and to consider the place of longing in my own life…along with the coming and going of my true home–one which I deeply longed for and now find myself in again, against all odds. Was possibly written in the stars…

    • Juliet Batten

      Dana, How wonderful that you have found your way back to your true home, after so much wandering!

  6. Pearl

    Hi Juliet!

    For future editions of your newsletter, you may be interested to learn –
    The reason the Pleiades are called the 7 Sisters, is not because they were always perceived to be 7 stars, but because they were named for Atlas, Pleione, and their seven daughters!
    So the Greeks thought of them as a cluster of 9 stars.
    There’s a picture here which clearly illustrates them: http://stars.astro.illinois.edu/sow/pleiades-t.html

    Now, if it is incredibly clear and you have very, very good eyesight, you might be able see 18 Tauri, or more, but, prior to light pollution, it seems like with good eyesight and good weather, you would expect 9 (seeing how many you can count is not a bad eye test!)
    You can see a comparison of brightness here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pleiades#Brightest_stars

    But! The name the Seven Sisters becomes popular – so English speakers start wandering the world, asking other cultures what are their names of these ‘Seven’ stars?
    And that is why, in NZ, only 7 names Maori names were popularly known. Not because there weren’t more, but because of assumptions about seven stars, so those were the names asked about. The two ‘new’ stars, Pohutukawa (Asteriope) and Hiwa-i-te-rangi (Celaeno), were always part of the cluster.

    What I haven’t been able to find, is the names of even dimmer stars, other than 18 Tauri in English, because on a clear, new moon night, with no light, and very good eyesight, people can see up to 6.5 magnitude, and given the history of polynesian navigation by the stars, they were surely known.

    • Juliet Batten

      Thank you Pearl, for your very full and informative comment!

  7. Penny M Geddis

    Thanks Juliet,
    I felt that ‘longing’ for someone today, I assigned the feeling a little Isis prayer, and then a few hours later I read this post. Ah that makes me feel better, and connected once more, thank you for reminding me!

    • Juliet Batten

      Dear Penny, it sounds as if the newsletter was well timed. I’m so glad.

  8. Karly

    Juliet, your note really moved my heart today – especially how you connected Matariki with longing. Thank you so much for writing and sharing.

    • Juliet Batten

      Thank you so much Karly. I’m glad that this blog touched you.


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