Across both Polynesia and Micronesia there is a great commonality of belief around the idea of a divinized sky.
The sense of the heaven’s enormity is certain to have been experienced in the souls of those who sailed long distances under its expanse—and who depended so on the stars and night sky to guide them on their perilous journeys.
In the Maori traditions of southern Polynesia the gods operate in the realms of sky, earth and underworld. Rangi (heaven) and Papa (earth) were the divine Ancestral pair from whom humans descend.
Among their six children, only the God of Forests, Birds and Insects can raise his father up to the skies by being firmly planted on his mother the earth. In Polynesia, “the greater gods are almost always ‘heavenly.’”
And in Micronesia also, major deities associated with biocosmic forces are usually from above.
In many African myths it is understood that at one time in the past the heavens or sky and the earth were united as one.
Some myths teach that there was a chain, ladder or rope between the two worlds but that a separation took place. Some say that animals bit the leather rope into two so that one part went up to the sky and the other fell to the ground; some say that it was through man’s fault that the two parts of the universe were split up.
In any case, a severing occurred. (Is that much different from the Garden of Eden story?)
The universe is seen as without edge, just as the earth has no edge. It is eternal. Thus circles are important in ceremonies and rituals for they symbolize the continuity of the universe and its unendingness. Birth, death and rebirth rituals also underscore the fact that life is stronger than death.
Adapted from Matthew Fox, The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine, pp. 6f.
To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.
Banner Image: “The moonlight and the boat,” by Claudia Dea on Flickr.
Queries for Contemplation
Is the severing that is spoken of in African traditions parallel to the rupture named in the Garden of Eden story? Is it still happening today when humanity cuts itself off from our deeper relationship with nature and the cosmos through our narcissism and anthropocentrism?
The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine
To awaken what Fox calls “the sacred masculine,” he unearths ten metaphors, or archetypes, ranging from the Green Man, an ancient pagan symbol of our fundamental relationship with nature, to the Spiritual Warrior….These timeless archetypes can inspire men to pursue their higher calling to connect to their deepest selves and to reinvent the world.
“Every man on this planet should read this book — not to mention every woman who wants to understand the struggles, often unconscious, that shape the men they know.” — Rabbi Michael Lerner, author of The Left Hand of God