Tag Archives: Pleiades

Welcome, stars of the New Year

If you were to look at a New Zealand calendar, there’s a good chance you would see 18 June marked as Matariki ~ 18 June being the official start of Aotearoa’s New Year. I have written previously about Matariki, the traditional Maori New Year and its connection to the star cluster, Pleiades, as well as its connection to  my life.  You can find the post at this link.

https://silkannthreades.wordpress.com/2013/06/15/matariki-and-my-mothers-birthday/

This New Year, instead of a re-hash of my own limited knowledge of Matariki,  I  invite you to join me over at Juliet Batten’s  blog, http://www.julietbatten.co.nz/musing-on-matariki/ , where you can see the wonder of one of New Zealand’s own seasonal events through a different pair of eyes.  Juliet is the author of  ‘Celebrating the Southern Seasons, Rituals for Aotearoa’. In her book, she writes with wisdom and clarity about our inherited ( Pakeha )  festivals, and how we can attune them to the seasons of New Zealand, and the traditional observances of the Maori calendar.

Despite Juliet’s clear instructions  on locating Matariki in  our southern skies ( “start with Orion, move diagonally down to the left, past Taurus and look low” ), I have failed to do so: mostly because I am functionally illiterate when it comes to reading the stars, but also because, this year, the weather has, so far, been distinctly unhelpful. Like this, in fact, ~soggy ~

Soggy boggy rhubarb

Soggy boggy rhubarb

with both night and day cloaking themselves in the same dark, dense, water-logged fabric.

Now, whilst I may be failing at star-craft and Pleiades-tracking, I have  spotted the return of another visitor, this Matariki. It’s none other than SOFIA, the ultra sophisticated and ultra modern star-gazer, from afar.

Sofia, a stratospheric observatory, is a joint venture  between Nasa and the German Aerospace Centre and will be based in Christchurch until July 24th. There will be 18 missions during the six-week deployment, each lasting ten hours. Although the main focus this year is Pluto, I am sure the crew on Sofia will get some fine glimpses of the Pleiades.

This is a photo I took of Sofia during her visit in July 2013. My old post on Sofia can be found on this link. https://silkannthreades.wordpress.com/2013/07/21/2408/#comments

Sofia

Sofia

If it weren’t for the dripping state of the landscape,

Dripping Nandina

Dripping Nandina

I would have been out getting you a new photo of Sofia. But, as it is, I  prefer being indoors,    salivating over   gazing at the stars of my kitchen laboratory:

Tarte Tatin ( the first I have made );

Golden Tarte Tatin

Golden Tarte Tatin

Apricot and Feijoa Cobbler;

Sundrop Cobbler

Sundrop Cobbler

Poached Quinces;

Celestial festive quinces in honour of Matariki

Celestially arranged festive quinces in honour of Matariki

Piping hot pumpkin soup;

A little sunshine dips into the pumpkin soup.

A little sunshine dips into the pumpkin soup. (Do you see the pink monster at the window waiting for her turn at the soup bowl?)

Hmmm……looking at my kitchen creations, does anyone else get the impression that I am hungry for the sun? Thank goodness, the solstice and the rebirth of the sun are nigh. 🙂

Happy New Year. 😀

© silkannthreades

 

Matariki and my mother’s birthday

NASA Matariki 2012 small_0Today is a special day. It is my mother’s birthday.  Happy Birthday Mum! My mother and my father live in my sister’s home in warm, tropical Queensland.  But my mother’s birthplace is just few kilometres east of my present home in Christchurch.  It was raining ( I think) on the day she was born, and it is raining on this day, too. It seems that  some things, weather wise, have not changed  in 91 years 🙂

Something else that has changed little in all my mother’s  decades, and for decades before her time, and which will change little in decades to come, is Matariki, or the star cluster Pleiades.  In New Zealand, in traditional Maori culture, when Matariki appears before dawn in late May or early June, it is a signal that heralds the New Year, in accordance with the Maori lunar calendar. This year, Matariki was on 10 June.  When my mother was born, Matariki  apparently disappeared from the night sky around  19th -21st May and reappeared in the first new month ( Pipiri ) of the year, about 17th -19th June.  So, by this reckoning, I can say that she is a New Year baby,  born under the ‘little eyes’ or ‘the eyes of god’  ; two of the interpretations of the meaning of Matariki.

Despite all the clear instructions on how to find Matariki in our New Zealand skies,  I have completely failed to do so. When I look at the night sky, I am immediately lost.  However, there is one bit of star-gazing that I can do, and have done, for as long as I can remember, and that is to notice the first star of the evening.  And with that noticing comes a little verse that has been sung over the centuries by many a child and, undoubtedly, many a mother too.

“Star light, star bright, The first star I see tonight; I wish I may, I wish I might, Have the wish I wish tonight.”

I have wished many a wish on that first star of the evening sky, though what those wishes were I no longer remember. Perhaps they came true, perhaps they did not.

One wish that my mother had, a very long time ago was to have her travel diary published. She kept a comprehensive diary ,and many letters, of her early married life in Fiji but publishers were not interested then, and most likely still wouldn’t be.

However, with the POWER of WordPress at my finger tips, I am going to make my mother’s wish come true, on her birthday, and  publish a small extract from  her first rough copy manuscript !!!!

“It was our first winter at home (Christchurch)  after almost two years in a warmer climate, and we were feeling the cold dreadfully. Dealing with gas and electricity rationing and a fuel shortage did nothing to relieve our feelings, or the cold! On one particularly cold, wet, bleak afternoon I sat shivering before a small fire, nursing aching chilblains, and thinking gloomily of better days. Beside me on a desk lay a bundle of letters, written to the home folks, while we were away, and on an impulse I picked one up and began to read. Gradually the gloom dispersed and I was back again in the warm, happy islands of Fiji. Thoughts flitted through my head as bright as the hibiscus flowers and the myriad gay little birds of that tropical land where we had been so happy.”  September 1951

A Happy Birthday and  a Happy Matariki to my mother for all seasons, and for all time. Have a lovely day in warm sunshine. Is it fun to have your work published? 🙂
For the star gazers; a link to the heavens 🙂  (http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/matariki-maori-new-year) ( http://www.astronomynz.org.nz/maori-astronomy/taatai-arorangi-maori-astronomy-2.html)
The first image is apparently one from NASA and seems to be used by many of the websites I have looked at whilst researching Matariki.
© silkannthreades