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Timatatanga Toa

1. The role of the initiating Tohunga is to assist Kaitono through the terrors of the initiating adventure of the discovery of the self.

The Tohunga is the one who appears and points to Te Taiaha Mura that will kill the Taniwha terror, tells of the waiting bride and Te Whare Oo Ngaa Taonga, applies the Te Rongoaa to the almost fatal wounds, and finally dismisses the conqueror back into the world of normal life, following the great adventure into the enchanted night.


2. The purpose and actual effect of the numerous strange rituals is to conduct people across those difficult thresholds of transformation that demand a change in the patterns not only of consciousness but also of unconscious life.

3. Rites of passage –birth, naming, puberty, marriage, burial, ect-are distinguished by formal, and usually very severe, exercises of severance, whereby the mind is radically cut away from the attitudes, attachments and life patterns of the stage being left behind.

In such ceremonials as those of birth and burial, the significant effects are those experienced by the parents and relatives.

All rites of passage are intended to touch not only the Kaitono but also every member of the Whanau.

4. Then follows an interval of more or less extended retirement, during which are enacted rituals designed to introduce Kaitono to the forms and proper feelings of their new estate, so that when at last, the time has ripened for the return to the normal world, Te Timata will be as good as reborn.

5. The unconscious sends all sorts of vapors, odd beings, terrors and deluding images up into the mind – whether in dream, broad daylight, or insanity-; for the human kingdom, beneath the floor of the comparatively neat little dwelling that we call our consciousness, goes down into unsuspected treasure caves.

6. There not only jewels but also dangerous Atua abide: the inconvenient or resisted psychological powers that we have not thought or dared to integrate into our lives; and they may remain unsuspected, or, on the other hand, some chance word, or the glance of an eye, the smell of a landscape or the taste of a beverage may touch a magik spring, and then dangerous messengers begin to appear in the mind.

7. These are dangerous because they threaten the fabric of the security into which we have built ourselves and our Whanau.

But they are fiendishly fascinating too, for they carry the keys that open the whole realm of the desired and feared adventure of the discovery of the self.

8. Destruction of the world that we have built and in which we live, and of ourselves within it; but then a wonderful reconstruction, of the bolder, cleaner, more spacious and fully human life, that is the lure, the promise and the terror, of these disturbing night visitants from the mythological realm that we carry within.

9. Psychoanalysis has taught us to take heed of these unsubstantial images.

Also it has found a way to let them do their work.

The dangerous crises of self development are permitted to come to pass under the protecting eye of an experienced Tohunga in the lore and language of dreams, who then enacts the role and character of the ancient mystagogue, or guide of souls; the initiating Tohunga of the primitive forest sanctuaries of trial and initiation.

10. It has always been the prime function of mythology and rite to supply the symbols that carry the human spirit forward, in counteraction to those other constant human fantasies that tend to tie it back.

The very high incidence of neuroticism among ourselves follows from the decline of such effective spiritual aid.

We remain fixated to the unexorcised images of our infancy, and hence disinclined to the necessary passages of our adulthood.

11. There has arisen in modern times a pathos of inverted emphasis; the goal is not to grow old, but to remain young; not to mature away from the mother but to cleave to her.

12. The ageless initiation symbolism is produced spontaneously by Kaitono themselves at the moment of release.

There is something in these initiatory images so necessary to the psyche that if they are not supplied from without, thru myth and ritual, they will have to be announced again through dream, from within lest our energies should remain locked in a banal, long outmoded room at the bottom of the sea.

13. One must know the passages and difficulties of the first half of the human cycle of life; those of our infancy and adolescence, when our sun is mounting toward its zenith.

Whilst on the other hand, the crises of the second portion, when in order to advance, the shining sphere must submit to descend and disappear, at last into the night of the womb of the grave.

The normal symbols of our desires and fears become converted in this afternoon of the biography into their opposites; for it is no longer life but death that is the challenge.

What is difficult to leave then, is not the womb, but the phallus, unless the life weariness has already seized the heart, when it will be death that calls with the promise of bliss that formerly was the lure of Aroha.

14. Full circle from the tomb of the womb, to the womb of the tomb we come; an ambiguous enigmatical incursion into the world of solid matter that is soon to melt from us, like the substance of a dream.

And, looking back at what had promised to be our own unique, unpredictable, and dangerous adventure, all we find in the end is such a series of standard metamorphoses as men and woman have undergone in every quarter of the world in all recorded centuries, and under every odd disguise of civilization.

15. Tohunga o Mumu must not convert a public event to personal gain; for the whole sense of investiture as a Tohunga is they are no longer a mere private person.

16. The return of the gift from Ngaa Atua to aid the Tohunga in their struggle to become a vessel of the people, symbolizes their absolutely selfless submission to the functions of their role.

The retaining of the gift represents, on the other hand, an impulse to egocentric self aggrandizement; and so the Tohunga, by the grace of Ngaa Atua, becomes the dangerous tyrant holdfast, out for oneself.

Just as the traditional rites of passage used to teach the individual to die to the past and be reborn to the future, so the great ceremonials of investiture divested the Tohunga of their private character and clothed them in the mantle of their vocation.

17. The first step for Timatatanga Toa in the discovery of the self is, detachment or withdrawal, which consists in a radical transfer of emphasis from the external world to the internal world; macro to microcosm, a retreat from the desperations of the waste land to the peace of the everlasting realm that is within.

But this realm is precisely the infantile unconscious.

It is the realm that we enter in sleep.

We carry it within ourselves forever.

All the Taniwha and secret helpers of our nursery are there, all the magik of childhood and more important, all the life potentialities that we never manage to bring to adult Take, those other portions of ourselves, are there; for such golden seeds do not die.

18. If only a portion of that lost totality could be dredged up into the light of day, we should experience a marvelous expansion of our powers, a vivid renewal of life.

Moreover, if we could dredge up something forgotten, not only by ourselves but by our whole generation or our entire civilization, one would indeed become the boon bringer, the culture hero of the day; a personage of not only a local but world historical moment.

19. The first work of Timatatanga Toa is to retreat from the world scene of secondary effects to those casual zones of the psyche where the difficulties really reside, and there to clarify the difficulties, eradicate them in ones own case -i.e. to give battle to the nursery demons of ones local culture- and break through to the undistorted, direct experience and assimilation of the archetypical images.

These are the forms or images of a collective nature which occur practically all over the earth as constituents of myths, and at the same time as autochthonous individual products of unconscious origin.

This is the process known as discrimination.

20. The tradition of subjectively known forms is in fact coextensive with the tradition of myth and is the key to the understanding and use of mythological images.

21. Dream is the personalized myth, myth the depersonalized dream; both myth and dream are symbolic in the same general way of the dynamics of the psyche.

22. But in the dream the forms are quirked by the peculiar troubles of the dreamer, whereas in myth the problems and solutions shown are directly valid for all humanity.

23. Tohunga o Mumu therefore are ones who have been able to battle past their personal and local historical

24. Tohunga o Mumu therefore are ones who have been able to battle past their personal and local historical limitations to the generally valid, normally human forms.

Such a person’s visions, ideas and inspirations come pristine from the primary springs of human life and thought.

Hence they are eloquent not of the present disintegrating society and psyche, but of the unquenched source through which society is reborn.

25. The Tohunga has died as a normal being; but as an eternal being perfected, unspecific, universal being, one has been reborn.

26. One second solemn task and deed therefore is to return then to us transfigured, and teach the lesson one has learned of life renewed.

27. Tragedy is the shattering of the forms and our attachment to the forms; comedy, the wild and careless inexhaustible joy of life invincible.

Thus the two are the terms of a single mythological theme and experience which includes them both and by which they are bound: the down going, and up coming –kathodos and anodos-, which together constitute the totality of the revelation that is life, and which the individual must know and love if one is to be purged, -katharsis purgatorio of the contagion of sin– disobedience to the divine will and death –identification with the mortal form-.

28. All things are changing; nothing dies.

The spirit wanders, comes here, now there, and occupies whatever frame it pleases; for that which once existed is no more, and that which was not, has come to be; and so the whole round of motion is gone through again.

29. The standard path for Timatatanga Toa is a magnification of the formula represented in the rites of passage: separation, initiation, return.

30. The passage of Timatatanga Toa may be over ground incidentally; fundamentally it is inward into the depths where obscure resistances are overcome, and long lost, forgotten powers are revivified, to be made available for the transfiguration of the world.

This deed accomplished, life no longer suffers under terrible mutilations of ubiquitous disaster, battered by time, hideous throughout space; but with its horrors visible still, it cries of anguish still tumultuous, it becomes penetrated by an all suffusing, all sustaining Aroha, and a knowledge of its own unconquered power.

31. Timatatanga Toa ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the warrior comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons upon the world’s inhabitants.

32. Tribal or local Timatatanga Toa commit their boons to a single folk; universal Timatatanga Toa bring a message for the whole world.

33. The separation or departure of Timatatanga Toa consists of five stages:

a) the call to adventure, or the signs of the vocation of the warrior.

b) refusal of the call, or the folly of the flight from Ngaa Atua.

c) supernatural aid, the unsuspected assistance that comes to one whom has undertaken their proper adventure.

d) the crossing of the first threshold.

e) the belly of the whale, or the passage into the realm of Te Poo.

34. The trials and victories of initiation of Timatatanga Toa consists of six stages:

a) the road of trials, or the dangerous aspects of Ngaa Atua.

b) the meeting with Mana Wahine, or the bliss of infancy regained.

c) woman as temptress.

d) atonement with the father.

e) apotheosis.

f) the ultimate boon.

35. The return and reintegration with society for Timatatanga Toa consists of six stages:

a) refusal of the return, or the world denied.

b) the magik flight.

c) the crossing of the return threshold, or the return to the world of common day.

d) master of the two worlds.

e) freedom to live the nature and function of the ultimate boon.

36. This return and reintegration with society, which is indispensable to the continuous circulation of spiritual energy into the world, and which from the standpoint of the community, is the justification of the long retreat, Timatatanga Toa may find the most difficult task of all.

For if one has won through to the profound repose of complete enlightenment, there is danger that the bliss of this experience may annihilate all recollection of, interest in, or hope for the sorrows of the world; or else the problem of making known the way of illumination to people wrapped in economic problems may seem too great to solve.

And on the other hand, if Timatatanga Toa instead of submitting to all the initiatory tests, has simple darted to ones goal –by violence, quick device, or luck- and plucked the boon for the world that one intended, then the powers that they have unbalanced may react so sharply that they will be blasted from within and without, crucified on the rock of their own violated unconscious.

Or if Timatatanga Toa, in the third place, makes their safe and willing return, one may meet with such a blank misunderstanding and disregard from those whom they have come to help that their career will collapse.

37. The cosmogenic cycle unrolls the great vision of the creation and destruction of the world which is vouchsafed as revelation to the successful warrior; it consists of four stages:

a) emanations; the coming of forms of the universe out of Te Kore.

b) the virgin birth; the creative and redemptive roles of the female power first on a cosmic scale, as mother of the universe, then again of the human plane as the mother of Timatatanga Toa.

c) transformation of Te Timata; the course of the legendary history of the human race through its typical stages, Timatatanga Toa appearing on the scene in various forms according to the changing needs of the race.

d) dissolutions; the foretold end, first of Timatatanga Toa, then of the manifested world.

38. The cosmogenic cycle is presented with astonishing consistency in the sacred writings of all the continents, and it gives to the adventure of Timatatanga Toa a new and interesting turn; now it appears that the perilous journey was a labor not of attainment, but of re-attainment, not of discovery but of rediscovery.

The Atua powers sought and dangerously won are revealed to have been within the heart of Kaitono all the time.

One is the chief’s child who has come to know who they are and herewith has entered into the exercise of their proper power; The child Atua whom has learned to know how much that title means.

From this point of view Timatatanga Toa is symbolical of that divine creative and redemptive image which is hidden within all of us, only waiting to be known and rendered into life.

39. The two, Te Timata and their ultimate Atua, the seeker and the found, are the outside and inside of a single self mirrored mystery, which is identical with the mystery of the manifest world.

The great deed of Timatatanga Toa supreme, is to come to the knowledge of this unity in multiplicity and then to make it known.

40. The effect of the successful adventure of Timatatanga Toa, is the unlocking and release again of the flow of life into the body of the world.

The miracle of this flow may be represented in physical terms as a circulation of food substance, dynamically as a streaming of energy, or spiritually as a manifestation of Awhi.

Such varieties of image alternate easily, representing three degreed of condensation of the one life force.

41. An abundant harvest is the sign of Awhi oo Ngaa Atua; Awhi oo Ngaa Atua is the food of the soul; the lightening bolt is the harbinger of fertilizing rain, and at the same time the manifestation of released energy of Io.

Awhi, food substance, energy; these pour into the living world, and wherever they fail, life decomposes into death.

42. The torrent pours from an invisible source, the point of entry being the Whakariterite oo Wairua Iho of the symbolic circle of the universe, the navel of the world.

43. The Tohunga as the incarnation of Io, is themselves the Whakariterite oo Wairua Iho of the world; the umbilical point through which the energies of eternity break into time.

Thus the world navel is the symbol of the continuous miracle of vivification which wells within all things.

44. The Whakariterite oo Wairua Iho, then, is ubiquitous, and since it is the source of all existence, it yields the worlds plenitude of both good and evil.

Ugliness, beauty, sin and virtue are equally its production.

45. “If you realize the emptiness of all things, Awhi will arise within your hearts; if you lose all differentiation between yourselves and others, fit to serve others you will be; and when in serving others you shall win success, then you shall meet with me; and in finding me, you shall attain to Ngaa Atua.” 

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