from a Reader
It is appropriate that New Zealanders celebrate the Matariki festival holiday of seasonal change with joy, as Northerners do the 1st of January. However, Laura Walters in a Stuff article takes a blinkered-view, appearing to assume that the cluster of stars, that Maori identify as Matariki, is exclusive to New Zealand.
I quote, ‘The detail around Matariki is clearly Maori.’ What is the undisclosed ‘detail’ to which she refers that make it Maori? It is no more exclusive to Maori than any of the other constellations of the heavens.
The Pleiades are prominent in the Northern Hemisphere, and mid-Southern latitudes. They have been observed for thousands of years – throughout-antiquity – by diverse cultures all around the world.
A $1 commemorative coin issued in 2020 by the Royal Australian Mint. The Seven Sisters (Pleiades) are represented, according to an ancient story of Australian Indigenous tradition.
In the Western World, the Pleiades in Greek Mythology were the Seven Sisters – daughters of the god, Atlas, and the Oceanid Pleione. The hunter, Orion, pursued them until Zeus – King of the Gods – turned them into stars.
Galileo, by use of his telescope, discovered there were more stars in the cluster, that were invisible to the naked eye. He identified 36, subsequently publishing a treatise on it, ‘Sidereus Nuncius’ – Starry Messenger – in 1610.
The Old Testament identifies Pleiades as ‘Khima’, a bright anthropomorphic constellation. Job 38:31, refers to it as ‘sweet influences’, and the belief that the stars exerted power over human destiny. (Psalms 104:19; Zechariah 8:19.)
All cultures have identified seasonal change by observing a precise periodic effect of the sun and moon on vegetable life and animal behaviour – breeding and migration.
The Celtic Welsh call the cluster Tŵr Tewdws; the Irish, Streoillin; Hawaiians, Makali’I, Aboriginal Australians tribes have several traditional names. It is also known to Persians as Parvin; Hindu, Krittika and; Urdu, Parvi; the Chinese, Quechua; the Japanese, Subaru. The North and South American Ancient civilizations; Maya, Aztec, Sioux, Kiowa and Cherokee have made observations.
I conclude: another idiotic quote from the Stuff article, ‘this holiday allowed us to see these beliefs from a place of beauty, rather than a place of fear.’
Can one ‘see… beliefs?’ Are ‘beliefs’ visible? No ‘beliefs’ are mentioned. If they are visible, from which ‘place of beauty and which of fear,’ are they seen?