Maori Education, Eight Trigrams, and the Solitary Bird

Welcome to our December newsletter!

We open our selection with an article by Lesley Rameka on the traditional principles of education among the Maori, based on the godliness or spiritual essence that “each child inherits from their ancestors when they are born.”

The child is viewed as being born with three ira (essences) which are linked to whakapapa (cosmic ancestry). The first essence is te Ira Tangata or the essence of or links to both sets of parents. The second is te Ira Wairua or the essence of and links to ancestors. The third is Ira Atua or the essence of and links to the gods.

In his article “The Eight Trigrams and Their Changes,” Matthias Hayek presents a genre of ancient Japanese divination techniques based on the Bagua trigrams. This hakke-uranai, a form of hemerology or horoscopy, was used to decipher mundane events through a process of encoding and decoding reality in symbolical terms. It was considered a kind of philology and it was the preserve of monks or priests, or “religious specialists”, all part of a cosmology rooted in the sexagesimal calendar, and therefore, eventually, all but erased and made into “superstition” (an incoherent residue) by the adoption of the Gregorian calendar.

• Finally, to close the year on a melodious note, we bring the succinct and compelling “Qualities of the Solitary Bird” from St John of the Cross’ Sayings of Light and Love.

The fourth trait is that it sings very sweetly. And so does the spirit sing sweetly to God at this time, for the praises it renders him are of the most delightful love, pleasant to the soul and precious in God’s eyes.