Song of Love
And on the Moon’s bright face there is a line, and it starts to wriggle, and it dances a jig, a merry jig, a circle dance, summoning the offspring of the ancestral eels to leave their dying parents, to journey to the rivers and lakes of the world, where the ‘hirama’ and the wisest of other fishermen are waiting. All are guided by their knowledge of the sea, stars and eternal cosmos. The fishermen are waiting for the bounty for wives and children, knowing that their friends are returning to them from a common homeland. The eternal tides pull them together.
Those now living, learn of love. And love is a maiden, soothed by gentle rain, baked in scorching sun, directed by the gods, a face covered in mud and perfume, in her time, and after. The warrior casts fear into the faces of foe, the farmer casts his seed and nurtures the kumara, the birdsong ignites the forests of volcanoes, and the fishermen cast their nets of hope into the most hopeless of seas.
Love is a maiden and hate is a warrior without hope. And the ancestors come to dance, having discerned the very length of time itself. Eternal, fraternal, maternal and linked to the stars, the maiden sleeps with the warrior, and stars are flung further into the cosmos. Far flung… And the line on the Moon danced a jig. Merry was the time before the warriors of darkness. When we danced and sang, in the light of the godstone, our people were one, and took only what was needed to sustain our lives.
The fishermen danced with the maidens, and the tears ran down the cheeks of the young woman, sustaining, nourishing the world. The mud on the cheeks of the maidens turned their faces to womanhood, and the sweet smell of perfume gripped the fishermen’s nostrils, before the old women died. And all intermingled. The living swapped place with the ancestors in this world and another, and the old souls rushed to fill the bodies of the newborn. Such exchanges were made time and time again.
Radiating its light, the Moon became a fusion of dead, living, born and reborn, and all dancing. Singing as nets were pulled towards the banks, chanting laments for the dead, enacting a fearsome war dance, caressing a naked body, running in joy along a beach, soaring through the sky, falling to the ground exhausted.
A fusion of sun, moon and stars, ceaseless long tides. The Moon disappeared behind a cloud and when it re-emerged the line had gone. There was no more singing or dancing. Silence, evil magic, and clouds of war pervaded.
This is the story of the ‘hirama,’ those who fished for eels for their chiefs, loved ones, and the Toa tribe…
Now on each sacred peak, which we have named once, twice, or thrice in time, are the bones of all our ancestors. Scattered far and wide over yonder hill, secreted, found, disinterred by nature, re-interred, and taken from one place to another, only to return. When they see the line on the moon wriggle, they too begin to dance, and they find the winding path through the clouds, warmed by sun, drawn by moon, dancing, dancing, dying, living, born, reborn, dying, smiling, frowning, laughing…
The waters moved sand along the expansive curved moon of beach and dolphins frolicked out from the shore. Each year the eels returned to the streams as promised by the gods. Pakau, Ti and Tawhiri fished alongside each other in paradise, and eleven other hirama and their sons laughed alongside them. Their wives and children smiled, and shared in the joys of the afterlife. All around was magic. Interwoven in the rushes, glistening in the sand, laughing from pebbles, the sleight of hand of the trees, fires burning, movement of the stars, repetition of seasons, earthly birth, god-controlled days of living, and the miracle of rebirth in the ancestral homeland.
Former enemies now sat together laughing, musing over past battle strategies, exchanging secrets freely, even secrets that could have once had deadly consequence, and telling stories as only fishermen could tell them. They looked down upon the world and saw a new breed of warriors preparing for battles of little importance, and they dwelt upon their successes and failures. It all seemed so small to them, so inconsequential.
For they could see how all was interconnected. From heaven’s vantage point nothing was clearer.
Io smiled. The creator god saw her beloved fishermen, the hirama Pakau, and his son Tawhiri, and others. Io was so proud, for when the fishermen and fisherwoman looked into the deep waters, in search of eels, they also saw the beauty and love of the supreme one.
Then the creator Io knew that they were at one with the spirit of the land, and sang the last karakia of admiration, and all from our Creation Song until the words of Love. There is no song of death, only of rebirth. It was no longer a song of sadness, but only one of joy. All sang.
‘Behold, the eel swims through the sky at the time of Matariki.
Lo, the eel now bites its tail!’
Inanga Wiremu, Te Aka Aka o Poutini, Waka of the Gods