The Maori of New Zealand have many ancient legends and stories to explain their beginnings, their ancestors, their deep connection with Papataanuku (Mother Earth), and their relationship with Io, the supreme spiritual power.
The Three Baskets of Knowledge is the story of Tane, who was called to make the journey and ascend through the many realms to the uppermost realm, occupied only by Io-Matua-Kore, God-the-Parentless, to obtain from Io the three baskets of knowledge and bring the wisdom back to Earth for the benefit of all humankind.
Looked at simply, it is a story that explains how humankind gained knowledge of things both earthly and spiritual. However, at a deeper level, it is a metaphor for the archetypal inner journey of the mystic, as he or she travels inwards, seeking always to find unity with the universe, and to become one with his or her concept or knowing of Io or God or the Supreme Being or the Way.
Several excerpts from the Maori song “He oriori mo Tuteremoana”, which speaks of the journey of Tane, highlight important ideas from this story.
“Listen O son. There was only one spiritual energy that transported Tane to the Uppermost realm; it was the spiritual power of the mind. Nought seen there but Io-the-parentless. Source of all authority, Source of all spiritual energy, Source of all heavenly origin, Source of all creation.”
The song speaks here of the incredible gift we are endowed with as part of the Source of all spiritual energy, and that is the power to create whatever we desire with our minds.
“Smoothed and a-glistening were the Bespaced Realms when Tane was summoned to the sacred beam in the presence of Rehua at the tail end of the realms; distilled then was the Ancient-knowledge of the upper realms, Ancient-knowledge of the rainbow, and the Ancient-knowledge of the spiritual powers.”
The rainbow as a bridge between realms and as a sign of hope and inspiration for the world is found in countless legends and stories of the indigenous cultures. For instance, the Maori legend of Uenuku and the Mist Maiden is a testimony to the power of love, and the rainbow represents love in all its shades. The rainbow is a reminder of the covenant between land and sky, mortal and immortal, earthbound and celestial.
Tiwhana mai i e rangi a Uenuku-rangi! Span the skies, great rainbow of Uenuku!
Many indigenous cultures believe that under the symbol of the rainbow, humanity will come into balance with one another and the Earth to experience the Golden Age. However, first an alignment with spiritual values, a healing between brothers and sisters, and a renewed reverence and appreciation for the Earth must take place.
There is an ancient theme that runs through many American indigenous legends that warns of the devastation the European white man would bring to the land. However, the myths also promise that some time in the future, when the devastation (especially as it was wrought upon the native peoples and upon the land itself) was at its worst, spiritually aligned souls among peoples of all colors, peoples of the rainbow, would feel a calling of Spirit and come together to bring things back to proper balance. These souls, who would do no violence and would work to end violence, would be called the Rainbow Warriors.
The time of the Rainbow Warriors has come.
“Time of the Rainbow Warriors” Copyright © Susan L Hart
Quotations from “He oriori mo Tuteremoana” is by Tuhotoariki, grand-uncle of Tuteremoana, the most famous descendant ot Tara, eponymous ancestor of the Maori Ngai Tara tribe. He lived nineteen or twenty generations ago. At his birth Tuhotoariki composed a well known oriori or song chant, “He oriori mo Tuteremoana”, which has survived to this day. Tohotoariki was a famous tohunga or priest of his time, and his oriori contains many spiritual teachings for his high born grand-nephew.