Temple of the Dark Moon


The Temple of the Dark Moon has a special relationship with New Zealand as it is the birth country of our High Priestess. Frances was invite to speak at the New Zealand Pagan Festival in 2003, as well as leading the opening ritual with Chief Druid of the British Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids, Philip Carr-Gomm. One of the lecturers, Roel van Leeuwen, spoke of New Zealand's long and varied history of occult and esoteric fraternities within New Zealand. Roel has kindly provided the Temple of the Dark Moon permission to include a time-line on this site.

In 2010 Frances returned to again participate in the New Zealand Pagan Festival where she led both the opening and closing rituals with Occult Philosopher, Ramsay Dukes, as well as presented two lectures.

Just like their Australian counterparts, New Zealand Pagans often find that there is limited information with respect to the Southern Hemisphere, despite that fact that there being a long and rather interesting occult history on this small island. It is for this reason that we include the following excerpt from Celebrating the Southern Seasons - Rituals for Aotearoa by Juliet Batten (Tandem Press) that looks at both the European and Maori calendars.

The Maori year followed a lunar month system that recognised the Solstices, and like early Celtic society, often observed the festival on the first New Moon following the seasonal signal. Although much of the following information on early Maori practices comes from the Tuhoe people on the east coast of the North Island, it is important to note that, like the rituals practised by different tribes, seasonal information naturally varies from one district to the next.

Winter Solstice


Spring Equinox


Summer Solstice


Autumn Equniox


TE MARUAROA O TE TAKURUA, HOTOKE - Winter Solstice (21-22 June)

For the Maori, the new year began on the first New Moon after the rising of Matariki (the Pleiades) in the eastern sky at dawn. Matariki reappears in the tail of the Milky Way during the waning moon of June, which brings the start of the new year close to the Winter Solstice.

Matariki is an important constellation associated with the providing of food. The literal meaning of Matariki is "little eyes", referring to the appearance of this beautiful, jewel-like cluster of six or seven small stars. The story of Matariki originates in the Southern Cook Islands where it was said the God Tane became jealous of a certain very bright star that revalled his own gift of stars to the heavens. He smashed the bright star into pieces and flung them across the sky. There they came to rest as "little eyes", fascinating people with their sparkling from that day on.

The actual moment of first sighting could be an emotional occasion. Women would sing laments for the recent dead, or line up facing Matariki to greet the star cluster with a three-day festival of action songs and dances, a custom that is being reclaimed by some Maori people today. The important new year festival of celebration and feasting would then follow.

Back in their Polynesian homeland, the Maori new year began about the time of the Summer Solstice, when Matariki appeared on the horizon just after Sunset. After arriving in Aotearoa, the Maori shifted new year to the Winter position celebrated today. This may have been a response to the change in agricultural practices, for while crops could be grown all year round in the islands, in the cooler new land the kumara (the most viable crop), taro and gourd were restricted to a distinct seasonal cycle.

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PAKAWERA HONGONUI - Imbolg (2 August)

First Light comes in the second lunar month of the year, Pakawera. Kereru (wood pigeon) run short of berries and are forced to eat kowhai leaves which, in turn, make the birds unsuitable for eating. The bird and rat-gathering seasons were now ending and people came home from the forest.

Young eels begin to swim upstream and are now caught, the same with inanga (whitebait). The kotukutuku tree is bare, being the one native tree to lose its leaves. Workers were kept busy heaping up the earth into mounds that would receive the Spring kumara seed shoots. Matariki, the Pleiades constellaton, watched over them - Matariki ahunga nui ("the Pleiades with many mounds heaped up").

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TE KOANGA, TE MAHURU - Spring Equinox (21-22 September)

The rising of the star Aotahi (Canopus) announced the arrival of spring, together with the flowering kowhai, rangiora and kotukutuku, the plants of the fourth lunar month spanning September and October. Puawananga (clematis), now flowering. Its blossoming indicates the coming of Spring, and it was believed to be created for this purpose. The word "Puawananga" means "ritual flower". Knowledgeable people watched the flowering of trees in order to predict the weather for the coming season. If trees flowered on the lower branches first, it would be warm and bountiful, but if they flowered on the upper branches first, it would be cold and unproductive.

A key event was the return of the pipiwharauroa, the shining cuckoo, from its winter stay in Hawaiki, the legendary Pacific homeland of the Maori. The cuckoo's cry, "kui kui" (no food, no food) is still a sign that many listen for as indeed food was now short as the rua (storehouses) became depleted. When the weather got warmer, the cuckoo knew that all would be well and added the call "whit whit ora" (changing, changing to plenty). This call was the sign of a good summer to come. The appearance of the star Aotahi (Canopus) towards the south of the sky was a sign for kumara planting to begin, as was the flowering of the kowhai.

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WHIRINGANUKU - Beltaine (31 October)

To the Maori, this was the fifth month, when kua tino mahana te whenua ("the Earth has now become quite warm"). Yellow-green tarata lemon scented fragrance fills the air.

Now the kumara demanded less attention, so it was time to go into the bush to cut the cabbage tree. In the South Island, where other food was sacred, the Ngai Tahu and Nagti Mamoe tribes cultivated both the important ti pore and the native ti para, and ate the roots and stems of the young plants.

This was a season of promise - a flowering and growing time as kumara plants spread their tendrils through the moist earth and flowers of the forest trees anticipate the fruiting season to come.

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TE MARUAROA O TE RAUMATI - Summer Solstice (21-22 December)

Along the coastline and inland hills toetoe wave their feathery, yellow fronds and harakeke (flax) sticks out its nectar-filled, flame-like flowers. The small, white flowers of ngaio may still be visible. In the bush, the flowering of other plants is more hidden. Berries are swelling and ripening - karaka now shiny green, porokaiwhiri (pigeonwood) turning orange, and purple konini, the fruit of the kotukutuku, falling to the ground to be taken by rats and wild pigs.

The pohutukawa's flowers were a vivid reminder of the God Tawhaki, who once lived on Earth as a man. One day, people cutting brushwood saw him at the top of a high hill. To their astonishment, he stripped off his clothing and stood clothed in brilliant lightning: at that moment they knew he was no mere mortal. Tawhaki's cousins grew jealous of his powers and of the attention he drew from women. One day, when Tawhaki was washing and combing his hair in a pool, they set upon him, beating him viciously and leaving him for dead. He did not die however, for he healed himself with water and karakia, chanting to the red blood, which is the very spirit of life. The potent colour passed into the pohutukawa blossom which became know as te pua wheo a Tawhaki (the red flower of Tawhaki).

Summer was also announced by the appearance of the star/spirit woman Parearohi shimmering in the sky with her consort Rehua (Antares, the red star in Scorpio). Rehua had two wives: Rhuia, the enervator, and Whakaonge-kai, meaning "she who makes food scarce", for Whakaonge-kai was always hungry. The two wives took their places, one on either side of Rehua. When he turned to Ruhia, she would bring first her left foot down, and then the other foot, blessing the Earth with her warmth and ripening powers. Fruit then began to swell on the trees and all creatures became languid in the heat. When Rehua turned to mate with Whakaonge-kai, summer came and food was sacared, due to Whakaonge-kai's huge appetite.

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TE WARU - Lugnasadh (2 February)

In the old Maori calendar the eight month was when kua makura te kai; ka kai te tangata i nga kai hou o te tau ("fruits have now set and people eat the first fruits of the year"). Young gourds might now be ready to eat, but the kumara still had much growing to do. It was the month when the long-tailed and shining cuckoo koekoea and pipiwharauroa began to leave for the north. Cicades also sang loudly. The lean season is referred to a saying about how important it was for a man's daughter to marry a good provider.

Rehua (Antares) was the Summer star, personifying heat and the power to ripen all fruits, the star that governed the migration of whitebait, with many proverbs indicating its importance, or that of his wife, Ruhia.

Kaore ana a Rehua i tatu ki raro ("Rehua has not yet alighted") referred to the stage before fruit has formed on the trees. On a hot day people would say Kua tahu a Rehau ("Rehua has burnt/kindled"). Other proverbs refer to te paki o Rhuia ("the fine weather of Ruhia") and the heat that she brings. Another saying was Rehua kai tangata ("people become food for Rehua"), for now that the planting season was over, men were again free for raiding expeditions. Food was scarce now.

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POUTUTERANGI TE NGAHURU - Autumn Equinox (21-22 March)

The ninth month, Huitanguru, when the foot of Ruhia, the wife of Rehua (Summer) rests upon the Earth, has passed. It is now Poututerangi, when the crops are dug up. Poututerangi takes it name from the pole that Tane used to separat his parents Rangi and Papa. The literal meaning of Poututerangi is "the post that lifted up the sky". This was the beginning of the kumara harvest.

Certain stars announced the moment: Poututerangi (Altair), which one Tuhoe authority described as another aspect of Rehua (Antares), the Summer star: "When his feet alight upon the Earth he is called Poutute-Rangi; this is Autumn. When but one foot has so alighted, he is stilled called Rehua". It was thought that Poututerangi came down to Earth in Autumn, bringing the harvest down with him. At the appearance of Poututerangi, a tapu man, called a mata paheru, would inspect the crop to see if the kumara were fully developed, and if they were, harvest would begin.

Important rituals attended the lifting of the crop. Karakia were offered at dawn, and the first kumara to be dug were those that had been ritually planted as the first seeds in Spring. These special tubers were cooked in a separate hangi and offered to Pani. In this way, the tapu of Rongomatane, God of the cultivated crops, was laid to rest.

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HARATUA, PAENGAWHAWHA - Samhain (30 April)

It is the eleventh lunar month, Paengawhawha, the kua putu nga tupu o nga kai i nga paenga o nga mara ("the refus of food plants is piled up on the edges of the fields"). Soon the season will pass into the twelth month, Haratua, when the crops are stored in the pits and the labours of the harvest are over. Other foods came into season now such as the taro (where is was warm enough to be grown), fern roots, gourds, and cabbage tree suckers.

Emphasis now shifted to the bush, the domain of Tane, as a food source. From April to August, and even to December in some parts, it was time to catch the kiore, the small dark rat that lived on berries. The kiore may be traced back 5,000 years to south-east Asia, from where it was eventually brought by migrating seafarers to Polynesia, and then to Aotearoa by the Maori.

Unlike the larger, more aggressive Norway and ship rats that came to Aotearoa with the European settlers, the kiore is a creature of clean habits. It was a revered food for distinguished chiefs and a compaion animal honoured in waiata and carvings. A number of hills, mountains and even tribes were named after the kiore.

The kiore was said to be a descendant of the Goddess Pani, whose daughter Hine-mataiti, gave birth to it. The kiore in turn attacked another child of Pani, the kumara, and the old men would sit all night holding flax strings threaded with shells that they shook at regular intervals to frighten the marauders away.

This season was also the threshold of the bird season. Men made the snares from flax and cabbage tree leaves, and when the signs of readiness were there in the bush, a few test birds were snared to see if they were good to eat. During the breeding season, the birds had been protected by a rahui, signalled by a post painted with red ochre, or with turfs of vegetation tied to it. Now the rahui was lifted.

The first birds to be caught were cooked in a small umu tuakaha (oven used for ritual feasts) and eaten by the tohunga as a sacred offering. This lifted the tapu for the whare mata and the mean who worked in it. In some places, one of the first birds was cooked to the chanting of karakia, then hung in a tree and offered to Tane, God of the Forests. First-fruits chants were known as taumaha and were recited to remove the tapu from the food before it was eaten.

In the South Island, the weka season now began, with people migrating to the plains, valleys or hills where weka were to be found. The men set out with dogs to catch the birds, while the women back at camp, plucked, cooked and preserved them in kelp bags. This went on until just before the Spring Equinox.

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For more information, contact the Temple of the Dark Moon or write to us at PO Box 2451, SALISBURY DOWNS SA 5108.

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