23. The Pleiades - Matariki

23. The Pleiades - Matariki

The Pleiades / Seven Sisters with its distinct narratives, paints a rich tapestry of stories featuring these stars in multiple ancient cultures around the Earth. An exploration of these tales through the prism of ecofeminism reveals profound insights into the intrinsic bond between femininity, nature, and the cosmos.

Specifically in New Zealand the Pleiades are sacredly revered and known as Matariki.

Matariki, known as the Pleiades in Western astronomy, is an especially significant cluster of stars to the indigenous peoples of Aotearoa (New Zealand) and the Pacific. For Māori people, the appearance of Matariki in the pre-dawn skies signifies the Māori New Year, a time of remembrance, celebration, and planning for the year ahead.

Different Iwi and Pacific nations hold various narratives about Matariki. In New Zealand  Matariki is commonly depicted as a mother surrounded by her seven daughters, namely, Tupu-ā-nuku, Tupu-ā-rangi, Waipunarangi, Waitī, Waitā, and Ururangi. Also present is their father ??? These celestial bodies are said to influence the Earth directly, affecting various domains from vegetation to oceans.

Across the broader Pacific, the Pleiades or Matariki takes on other forms and stories. In Hawaii, for instance, it is known as Makali'i, meaning "eyes of royalty," and its appearance heralds the start of the wet planting season.

Matariki / Pleiades story: - “Seven Sisters”

  • The Pleiades, (catalogue number M45), an open cluster of young stars in the zodiacal constellation Taurus, about 440 light-years from the solar system.
  • The story of the Seven Sisters of Pleiades star cluster is shared by multiple people from throughout the world, with legends dating back longer than human existence has been historically & scientifically verified.
  • In ancient Greek mythology and legend the hunter Orion was pursuing the sisters who did not wish to be with a mortal. So the seven sisters who were the daughters of Atlas and Pleione were put into the sky to escape him, but eventually, Orion became a god a constellation himself and continues to pursue the sisters across the sky
  • The names of the sisters in Greek mythology are Alcyone, Maia, Electra, Merope, Taygete, Celaeno, and Sterope, these names now assigned to individual stars today.
  • A similar story is reiterated by many Aboriginal tribes who revere the Pleiades also like the 7 sisters, being chased across the sky the lusty stars of the constellation of Orion.
  • The heliacal (near dawn) rising of the Pleiades in spring of the Northern Hemisphere has marked from ancient times the opening of seafaring and farming seasons, as the morning setting of the group in autumn signified the seasons’ ends. 
  • Some South American Indians use the same word for “Pleiades” and “year.”​
  • The constellations change their position throughout the year, denoting cyclic and seasonal changes especially in times before clocks the stars acted as a calendar, times to reap times to sow.
  • In New Zealand, the rising of the Matariki star cluster on the horizon at the winter equinox is celebrated as the Maori new year. 
  • Some Iwi talk of the stars mother is Matariki, and her daughters are Tupu-ā-Nuku, Tupu-ā-rangi, Waipuna Rangi, Waitī, Waitā, and Ururangi
  • The star cluster is visible to the naked eye from most parts of our planet and has many different names.
  • In English, it is called the Pleiades (its ancient Greek name) or the Seven Sisters. 
  • The Hawaiian name is Makali‘i, or ‘eyes of royalty’, and in Japan it is Subaru, meaning ‘gathered together’. 

It was this correlation between these all these very ancient cultures with a very similar story that enticed me to further investigate the Pleiades cluster as a Signifier for my Master’s project, the fact that such unrelated peoples have almost identical mythology, which is said to be over 100,000 years old I just couldn’t resist.
The link was simply mind-blowingly brilliant!

"As Above- So Below - So Be It!"
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