Like any form of whakapapa (genealogy, process, connection), understanding the hierarchy and seniority amongst our atua is imperative to understanding our natural world and ourselves. With some kōrero identifying over 140 atua and also a wealth of kōrero and mātauranga lost an unknown about our atua wahine, Goddesses, I’m not exactly sure who the oldest is. However, amongst this confusion, there’s one relationship I’d like to cover and one I’m sure of:
Whiro (atua of misfortune and disease) is older than Tāne (atua of the forest, pursuit of knowledge), because, darkness precedes light. Let’s look to our creation story…
From Io (creator, supreme being, existence) came Te Kore (potential, thought), which evolved into Te Pō (darkness, unknowing) the phase that Ranginui (sky father) and Papatuanuku (earth mother) came together and begat te ira atua (the god line). Then, Rangi and Papa were separated by their offspring to bring forth Te Ao Mārama (world of light), the world as we know it, today.
But what does that have to do with Whiro and Tāne or who's older?
It was Tāne who separated his parents, to allow light into the world. So in that respect, we can also identify him as the atua of light. Another interpretation could be attributed to how Tāne retrieved the baskets of knowledge from the heavens; with new information and understandings as forms of enlightenment.
Whiro on the other hand, attempted to sabotage Tāne’s efforts by sending his armies to attack Tāne during his journey to retrieve the baskets and then later retreated to Rarohenga (underworld).
What does this mean for our lives today? What metaphors can we draw from this relationship, to help guide us through? These are the types of questions we need to be asking when we reflect on our myths and legends, because they are so much more than stories to spark imagination, I’m about to show you why.
If we learn to become more familiar with the phases of darkness in our lives; the struggle, the challenges, the growth, the failures and accept that darkness will always be there, that failure and adversity will always occur, because there are atua manifestations of it in our environment. We might also appreciate that light, success and the good stuff will always be waiting on the other side, because it says so in our creation story. Tāne will always overcome Whiro; new light eventually dawned on Te Pō and Tāne successfully retrieved the baskets of knowledge regardless of Whiro’s interference.
With this in mind, how better set up would we be to believe in ourselves, to try new things, to go out on a limb to pursue what we desire most, to trust in the process?
Had I known that my first attempts at writing a blog or recording vlogs wouldn't be as awesome as I expected, or that people would comment about them and my abilities regardless.... had I known that going after something I desired would be difficult, wouldn't go according to plan, be uncomfortable a lot of the time, yet the reward would be there on the other side, I would eventually improve and all of these experiences would contribute to a life I love and enjoy… I'd have started years ago!
Enough about hypotheticals though. Life is happening right now, not in the past world of 'shoulda, woulda, coulda' done this and that. If we get right now on lock, he kai kei o tātou ringa, our abilities are abundant. Therefore, we must understand that it's predetermined, according to whakapapa, that periods of darkness precede the light. Not only that, but Whiro's presence is necessary to actualising our potential and bringing forth our true selves into the light.
If you know that trying to manifest your dreams into reality is already going to be hard and filled with adversity of some description, you can prepare and remind yourself that light and success is on the other side of the break through. Kia whakaTāne koe i a koe, make yourself like Tāne and continue to fight, in your pursuit of light.
Ngā mihi, Hana.