Honoring the Mother Creator, the Passionate Princess and the Lady of the Sea

The descendents of the Great Mother, or Queen of Heaven, still have a place in the local mythologies and cultures from Indonesia and the Philippines to Hawaii.

The Tinguian people of the Philippines honor Agemem (“Lady Creator”) as co-creator (with her husband) of the sun, moon, earth and stars. In Borneo some Dayaks honor Jata who, together with the sun, created the world and sky. She is a serpent or dragon figure, and an inhabitant of the primeval chaos, like Tiamat. Rabia is an Earth goddess who, like Inanna, Eurydice, and many others, enters the underworld and is then reborn – her story is from the island of Ceram, in Eastern Indonesia, near New Guinea.

In spite of variations of language and culture, the words Hine and Hina are common across the Polynesian part of the Pacific for the names and titles of goddesses, and always denote something great, sacred and feminine. The various Hine/Hina goddesses may simply be aspects of one Great Goddess. This uniformity suggests that there may have been one great goddess with a similar name who was worshipped by the Polynesians in ancient times. In particular the New Zealand Maoris have Hine Te Iwa Iwa, who is the Maori Goddess of women, childbirth and creativity.

Hinaura was the sister or cousin of Maui who met and married the famous rangatira, Tinirau, who could speak to whales and befriend them. Hinaura and Tinirau had a son, Tu-huruhuru. They were very happy living in his kainga, village. Then one day Tinirau hit her. Hinaura took her son to her whānau kainga.

After many months of his pleading with her, Hinaura returned to his village. They were happy until one day Tinirau found another woman. Hinaura objected, so Tinirau imprisoned her behind a wall of magic whale rib bones. She was angered and called her brother/cousin Maui-mua. He changed himself in to a rupe, pigeon, and she rode on the bird’s back out of the prison.

Hinaura gathered her courage and decided to move on with her life. To mark the event, she changed her name to Hine te iwa iwa. She left Tu-huruhuru with Tinirau in order to pacify him, knowing that his whānau would continue to care for him. She became an expert in women’s affairs and responsibilities supporting ruahine and puhi, including the domestic arts. She protects and defends women in their work especially in childbirth.

Hine Moa (“Passionate Princess”) is honored for the virtues of loyalty and courage. Noble born Hine Moa was charmed by the sound of music played by Tutanekai. When Tutanekai visited the mainland with his people, he met Hine Moa and they fell in love. The young man had perforce to return to his village, but the lovers arranged that every night he would play and that Hine Moa would follow the sound of his music to join him.

Tutanekai kept up a nightly serenade but Hine Moa’s people, suspecting something was afoot, had hidden all the canoes. The maiden, however, was not to be deterred and, selecting six large, dry, empty gourds as floats, she decided to swim to the island. Guided by the strains of her loved one’s music, Hine Moa safely reached the other shore and landed near a hot spring, Waikimihia, in which she warmed and refreshed herself – the pool is on Mokoia Island to this day. Just at that moment Tutanekai sent his servant for water. This man disturbed the girl who, pretending to be a man, spoke in a gruff voice and, when she learnt his errand, begged for a drink from the calabash which she smashed as soon as she had had her fill. The servant then went back and reported to Tutanekai what had happened. He was ordered back again and again, each time with the same result, until all the calabashes were broken. The now irate young man himself went down to the pool and to his joy discovered Hine Moa. Like all good stories, the legend has a conventional ending – they lived happily ever after.

There is also Hine Moana is “The Lady of the Sea”, which is natural enough considering the Polynesian tradition of seafaring.

401px-In_Awe_(2054095712).jpg
Giant Kauri tree Tāne Mahuta, or “Lord of the Forest”.
According to Maori mythology Tane is the son of Ranginui and Papatuanuku. 

The Maori Earth Mother is Papatuanuku, and her husband Rangi Nui is the Sky Father. These two were created by Io, the fundamental divine principle, and together, as the productive and generative principles, they created everything that is between the Earth and the Sky.

Haumea is an Earth Mother goddess and called the “Mother of Hawaii”. She is particularly concerned with childbirth and women’s affairs. Pele, the goddess of volcanoes, and Hi’iaka Laka, the Goddess of the hula, love and fertility, are her daughters. Again the trinitarian nature of the goddess is evident and the relation between the three aspects parallels that of the aspects of Ratu Kidul.

People in Hawaii also respects the Queen of the Sea, also sometimes called the Queen of the South Sea. This respect is encouraged by the tradition that she can appear as a very beautiful young woman, wearing a scarlet red dress and walking by the side of the road, but that men who stop to pick her up sometimes vanish and are never heard from again. Many people claim to have seen her, but since none of them disappeared we still hear only half of the story.

“Time Maps: Matriarchy and the Goddess Culture” is due in January 2018. Meanwhile, other volumes of “Time Maps” can be found through this link.

books_2

 

 

No Such Thing as “Nice”: Serpents and the Great Goddess

The Toltecs and Aztecs had originally worshipped a person/couple called Ometecuhtli (the male part) and Omechihuatl (the female part). Sometimes these are shown combined into one being with male and female aspects. Omechihuatl was referred to variously as the wife, twin sister, or female aspect of Ometecuhtli, and was his complete equal in power because she was distinguishable from him only by gender. This couple acted as one Creator God and symbolized the duality of nature and the inseparable unity of the Great Life Force. After Ometecuhtli and Omechihuatl, who can be considered as the first generation in the genealogy of the Aztec gods, next came the great Mother Goddess.

800px-Aztec_statue_of_Coatlicue,_the_earth_goddess.jpg
Coatlicue, Museo Nacional de Antropología in Mexico City.

The Great Goddess was not nice. Really, after centuries of evidence of women going off to wars and are perfectly capable of doing some pretty awful things, we should just accept that female niceness is something that exists mainly in the imaginations of men and politicians because, before the needs of the new religious ideas and the social order that goes with it, the goddess was never just nice and sweet. She was female – nice, terrifying, gentle, powerful, compassionate, horrifying, and much more. One can still see some of this in the images and representations of the goddess Kali in India. In ancient Mexico she was called Coatlicue, or “Serpent Skirt”, and she had many of the same characteristics and symbols as Kali. They were both fierce protectors and compassionate mothers, wore severed hands and skulls draped around them, and had protruding tongues. Some representations of Kali show her with fang-like teeth, Coatlicue is sometimes shown with a human skull as a head.

800px-12th-century_Durga_Mahishasuramardini_killing_buffalo_demon_at_Shaivism_Hindu_temple_Hoysaleswara_arts_Halebidu_Karnataka_India_2.jpg
Durga. CC BY-SA 4.0

In later forms, their powers were dismembered. In India the compassionate protector function went to Durga, who battled only against demons, and in Mexico it went first to Tonantsi (who accepted only the sacrifice of birds and small animals, not of humans). The darker, underworld, aspects of the old goddess went to a number of lesser goddettes such as Tlazolteotl and Cihuacoatl. Cihuacoatl was an Aztec earth and mother-goddess, and patroness of childbirth. She was sometimes portrayed holding a child in her arms, but her roar was a signal of war – perhaps because there is nothing more ferocious than a mother protecting her children.

 

 

“Coatl” is the Nahuatl word for serpent, and the use of serpent symbolism is ubiquitous in Mexican and Central American iconography prior to the Invasion. As far back as the time of the Olmecs, the mouth of the serpent was a symbol of womanhood. It was a sacred place, a safe place, the womb from which all things were born, and also a symbol of the place to which all would return. As remarked by Gloria Anzaldua, a native Mexican, (Entering into the Serpent, Anzaldua, 1979), “The destiny of humankind is to be devoured by the Serpent.”

“Time Maps: Matriarchy and the Goddess Culture” is coming soon. Meanwhile, other volumes of “Time Maps” can be found through this link.

books_2

Dismembering the Great Mother through the Mythology of Demeter and Persephone

The upcoming Time Maps: Matriarchy and the Goddess Culture is a book that is very near to my heart for a number of reasons. In it, I have the freedom to not only explore mythology from many different cultures, but figure out how the myths known to us today actually come about. Another reason is that I have always been fascinated by goddesses in particular. I believe that they all come from the same source – many of them retaining some of the characteristics as time goes on.

The question then, of course, is why do we feel the need to have our goddesses retain only some of the aspects of the great mother? I suppose it is in our nature to complicate the simple and simplify the complicated. We do that with religions too although we can never seem to get it right. Beliefs in general are both simple and complicated. A belief is not good or bad – it is just “is”. Our need to simplify it boxing it as one or the other often complicates – bringing about things such as discrimination and destruction, while our attempt to complicate it by imposing all sorts of rules and restrictions often leads to fanaticism.

I have talked about how the all-encompassing nature of the Mother Goddess can be empowering and terrifying for men and women alike – also both simple and complicated. Perhaps it is too much for us to contemplate. Too much so that we find ways to simplify it for ourselves by “dismembering”, as it were, the Great Mother.

 

demeter2
Demeter

An example of the process of dismemberment of a goddess is the story of Demeter and Persephone. “De-meter” is from Da-mater, “The Mother”. She probably entered Greece from Crete, and before that she was strongly linked with Isis in Egypt, but she wasn’t called Demeter then, since that is an Indoeuropean name. The Indoeuropean era is when we start to see how The Mother became dismembered. Demeter’s function became more restricted and she was called the Grain Mother, representing the mature crops, and her daughter Kore, was the Grain Maiden, representing the new growths. The later Greeks changed Kore’s name to Persephone, possibly deriving the name from Phesephatta, who was an ancient pre-Indoeuropean Earth goddess native to the Greek Peninsula.

Since the growth of crops follows the seasons, Demeter came to be associated with summer and autumn while her daughter represented winter and spring. Originally the goddess, in whatever form she appeared, did not have a daughter, but she herself had maiden and mature aspects, and her appearance could change with the seasons. Evidently, that was a bit too complicated, so she was split in two – one became the daughter of the other. Thus Demeter and Kore were two aspects of the Triple Goddess (the virgin and the mother).

demeter mourning.jpg
Demeter mourning Persephone (Evelyn de Morgan, 1906)

When Hades abducted Kore, Demeter’s search for her daughter took her to the palace of Celeus, the King of Eleusis in Attica. She assumed the form of an old woman (the crone), and asked him for shelter. He took her in, to nurse Demophon and Triptolemus, his sons by Metanira. To reward his kindness, she planned to make Demophon immortal; she secretly anointed the boy with ambrosia and laid him in the flames of the hearth, to gradually burn away his mortal self. But Metanira walked in, saw her son in the fire and screamed in fright. Demeter abandoned the attempt. Instead, she taught Triptolemus the secrets of agriculture, and he in turn taught them to any who wished to learn them. Thus, humanity learned how to plant, grow and harvest grain (This whole section is all about birth, death and rebirth.)

The old stories of Demeter are identical with stories of Isis in Egypt – only the names have been changed – she was the sister-wife of the lord of the underworld, with power equal to or even greater than her brother, and she passed freely between the worlds.

Isis-Sothis-Demeter_MGEg_Inv22804.jpg
Bust of Isis-Sothis-Demeter. White marble, Roman artwork, second part of Hadrian’s reign, ca. 131–138 CE. From the gymnasium in the Villa Adriana, near Tivoli, 1736.

“Time Maps: Matriarchy and the Goddess Culture” is coming soon. Meanwhile, other volumes of “Time Maps” can be found through this link.

books_2

 

The Lost Legend of the Human Races: The People who Haven’t Found Their Way Back to Each Other

RACES-family

At the beginning of this cycle of time, the Great Spirit divided the people of the world into five groups, giving each of them a different color. To each he gave specific teachings, and to each he gave a specific task. He then sent four of the groups out in four different directions in the world. Cautioning them that one group can never exist alone, the Great Spirit instructed that, when they came back together again, the five groups were to share their teachings and what they had learned in carrying out their tasks.

RACES-Women.jpgThe task of the black people was to learn about the Earth – how things grow, foods that are good to eat, plants that heal. They would be able to teach others about survival and endurance.

The task of the yellow people was to learn about water – the most humble, yet most powerful of the elements and strongly linked to our human emotions. Through their own difficulties, they would be able to teach others how to adapt to life’s unpredictable circumstances.

RACES-boygirlThe task of the red people was to learn about wind – breath and animal life, air, the sky and everything within and above it. From this, they would learn about change, stability and motivation, then share their knowledge with others.

The task of the white people was to learn about fire – action and movement, consuming and changing all it touches, typified by strong mind and will. From this, they would learn, and later teach others, about moderation as well as humility to give and accept help.

The task of the brown people was to learn about their own nature as human beings – brown being the union of the four other colors. From this, they would understand and share the nature and power of love.

So the people went out and studied all the matters as they had been instructed, but they were very slow learners and it took a very long time. By the time they began to meet again, they had forgotten the instruction to teach and share what they had learned. They had forgotten that they each had only a part of the human experience and that they still had to learn the other parts from each other.

This story is based on some Native American teachings and a few inputs from Asian traditions.

 Martini

TimeMaps001This is a retelling of an excerpt from Time Maps: History, Prehistory and Biological Evolution, by Dr. R.K Fisher and Martini Fisher. The book is available in Amazon and in bookstores. To get your copy, click here.

(Excerpt) Life’s Unpleasant Truths Represented by Mahabharata

This is an excerpt from the newly-released ebook “Introduction to Mahabharata: Lessons on Life and Businesses”, currently available on Kindle. To get your copy, press here.

Mahabhrata intro cover

Let’s be honest: we all want to do the right thing. In fact, all of us are doing our best. However, “our best” is a broad expression which is heavily influenced by our understandings, our backgrounds, our desires, our needs, our education and many other factors. In the end, “our best” may not be suitable for the world as a whole, but enough for perhaps our own country, or our own community. The cold, hard truth of it is that, although it is by no means impossible, it is very rare for a dream to “change the whole world for the better” to come true.

Mahabharata understands this, and makes no pretense of the situation being otherwise. So, instead of taking the stance of “this situation is unvirtuous and therefore should not have happened,” the attitude of the characters lean more to “This situation is unvirtuous, but it happens nonetheless. So, what are we going to do about it?”

          There are, of course, many other unpleasant truths in life symbolized in the epic. Here are some of them:

Fighting for righteousness is all very well, but if the opponent fights dirty be prepared to match them. Many of the tactics used by the Pandavas were sneaky at best. But, they tried to avoid the war, and when they could not avoid it they fought honorably. But, when their opponent started gaining the upper ground by cheating, they resorted to dishonorable methods as well. They had to – otherwise they would lose and the Kauravas would not hesitate to kill every last one of them.  There is no point in occupying the high moral ground if you lose in the process, particularly if “losing” means losing your life, your country and people you are responsible for. There is a story of Prithivraj Chahaun who defeated and captured invader Mahmud of Ghor in the 1191 first Battle of Tarain. However, he released his prisoner as that was considered morally correct. In 1192, Mahmud returned and promptly defeated, captured, and executed Prithivraj, an event which led to Muslim rule over the entire Ganges river valley. One cannot fully blame Prithivraj for letting Mahmud go. It was indeed the noble thing to do, but it cost him his life and his kingdom. Of course, it is not always the case of “kill or be killed”, but it is worth serious pondering. There are always moral conflicts and there will always be people who would mistake courtesy and kindness as signs of weakness.

War is sometimes justified. Mahatma Gandhi argued that it would be better to uphold the principle of non-violence over resorting to violence for any cause. And he was right. It is better, much nobler, and it is certainly something we should always strive to do. However, if the world was or is that noble, we would never hear news on wars or mass killings which we still hear about even to this day. On the other hand, the Mahabarata accepts the idea of a just war – where war is an option that should only be resorted to after all other solutions fail. However, once resorted to, it ought to be fought quickly to its conclusion for the sake of everyone.

There will always be dishonest people in the world, and you need to know how to handle them for your own sake as well as the people you are responsible for. Yudhisthira failed to identify and acknowledge the dishonesty of Duryodhana and lost everything he had. Turning the other cheek to something that is harmful is not righteousness – it will only lead to a bigger wrong.

Rules and customs ought to be interpreted flexibly. Mahabharata argues that that rules and customs should serve as social tools or means to enhance the quality of life and relationships. They are ‘tools’ to achieve a better life, not the ‘end result’. When rules and customs no longer serve their purpose, then we will have to think about reinterpreting them, or even discard them completely. Duty can be amended when it pursues a course of action that is inflexible or harmful. In Mahabharata, the Pandavas felt honor bound to play a game of dice to the end to appease their host, even though it resulted in the gambling away of their kingdom and their queen, as the customs frowned upon guests who refuse their host’s wishes. If following a strict sense of morality leads to actions that are immoral, then it is better to evaluate one’s notion of duty and honor.

Martini

frontpage banner fb martini3

 

 

Now on Kindle: “Introduction to Mahabharata: Lessons on Life and Businesses”

Following the successful launch of the online course by the same name, “Introduction to Mahabharata: Lessons on Life and Businesses” is now available in eBook form.

We seldom look at mythology as something that has practical lessons to make our life easier. Yet, it is closer to real life than we imagine. The Five Pandava Brothers of the ancient Hindu Epic Mahabharata represents many facets of ancient and modern lives from imperfections to ideal business leaders.

Martini Fisher introduces a different way to look at the Ancient Epic Indian Literature that is Mahabharata and presents its practical lessons for the modern audience.

(Excerpt) The Foolish Rich Man

The Foolish Rich Man

An Excerpt from “The Giant Who Loved the Moon: A Collection of Balinese Folk Tales”

By Martini Fisher

giant2I Cikampeng was a rich, yet foolish man.
He had a lot of money, but not because he was clever.
It was because he was very careful in his spending.

To save water, I Cikampeng never took a bath in the bathroom,
He always bathed in the river.
To save money, he never bought any soap.
He only had one very worn out clothes that he wore all the time.
He was very smelly.
If he wanted to eat, he divided his rice into three very small parts,
for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
He was also very thin.

One day, someone asked I Cikampeng why he was not married.
“I am looking for a wife,” He said,
“Of course, I am looking for a girl who doesn’t like to waste money.”
“I know a girl like that,” his friend said, and gave I Cikampeng her address.

I Cikampeng went to visit Ni Mayang Sari, the girl intended for him.
He fell in love with her and asked her to marry him.
Ni Mayang Sari said yes and they marry.
She was as smelly as him, and as thin as him,
Because she also didn’t like to spend any money.
They lived very happily together.

But, because they both ate so little, Ni Mayang Sari became ill.
One day, she died in her sleep.
When I Cikampeng woke to go to the field,
He thought his wife was still sleeping.
When he returned in the afternoon, she was still in the bed.
I Cikampeng was not worried at all.
He was happy!
It means they can save the food for tomorrow.

For days, his wife never woke.
For days, I Cikampeng thought they saved on food.
After a while, Ni Mayang Sari’s dead body produced a very bad smell,
Even smellier than her husband who never used soap.

The neighbors started to notice that Ni Mayang Sari was missing.
They asked I Cikampeng where his wife was.
He said that his wife was sleeping.
The neighbors were suspicious and insisted on seeing his wife.
When they saw her, they were very surprised.

“I Cikampeng, your wife is dead! Can’t you smell it?”
“Really?” asked I Cikampeng.
“Yes, you stupid man!” They cried,
“When someone smelled very bad, it means that their body is rotting!”

After I Cikampeng finally realized that his wife had died,
He cried and cried.
“Now, now I Cikampeng,” said one of his neighbors,
“the thing to do now is to bury your wife before her body rots even further.”
So, they all buried Ni Mayang Sari.
When they have finished, they all went home.
I Cikampeng still very sad because he was now all alone.

Later that evening, I Cikampeng farted.
The smell was very bad.
This upsets him greatly as he thought he was dead.

Trying to calm himself, he sat down to think carefully about his situation.
He did not want to tell his neighbors about his death,
Because he has had to spend money on his wife’s funeral.
If his neighbors have to bury him, he’ll have to spend more money!
He then resolved to bury himself.

Silly I Cikampeng dug the ground and covered his body with the soil.
Finally, his body were covered by soil, except for his head.
He couldn’t cover his own head.
So he had no choice but to wait for his neighbor to wake up in the morning to help him bury his head.

This is an excerpt of “The Giant Who Loved the Moon: A Collection of Balinese Folk Tales”, by Martini Fisher. “The Giant Who Loved The Moon” is available on Amazon Kindle. Get your copy by pressing this link.

Martini

Bali banner fb martini 2.jpg