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.
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.