Serendipity and Tapu (2018)

Life brings occasions which are serendipitous. I love that word and what it means. Serendipitous moments where events happen by chance in a beneficial way for those who are part of it.

We had a busy week ahead and things to do and almost canceled a lunch visit to a friend. With some rethinking we went ahead, had a pleasant time and on route home ran into another good friend Fee who invited us to join her and a few others on a walk up a local mountain. This was the serendipitous interlude – being extended this invite.

The mountain it is understood has an area that is considered tapu. A basic understanding of what tapu means in maori culture is where an item, a person or a place has been deemed sacred, restricted or prohibited from contact or common use. The tapu thing has been entrusted to atua (ancestors, spirit or other entity for care, protection or to be left alone). Tapu can be lifted with karakia by the right person. Tapu can also be broken - usually by means of not being honoured, ignored, trespassed upon, disrespected or perhaps attempts made to use the tapu item for the wrong reasons. When this occurs it is believed that bad luck can befall those who break it.

So I had some awareness that we would be walking part of the mountain, but not onto the tapu area. This is the understanding I had before agreeing to go. That said it was not clear to me that anyone knew exactly where the tapu area was!

We found our way up the mountain and she was majestic. The views overlooking the island beautiful. We walked to a clearing just before the top of the mountain. And as I looked to the top I could see this energy pacing along the ridge looking down at us. As I tuned in, the image of a warrior came through. He seemed perplexed. What came to my awareness was that we were reaching a sensitive area on the mountain side.

“We want to be left in peace,” was his communication to me.

Remaining lower down the hill I took a general look around, towards the bush and along the landscape and got a feel for the energy there. To me it felt a beautiful place, and special.

Looking up again towards the warrior I closed my eyes, lowered my head and began to communicate to him, “We come in peace. These people with me would like to see your views, and I believe them to be respectful people who do good work in the world with good intention. We are trying to get a sense of this place in order to support another. We will not be here too long. May we look at your mountain please?”

Within a few minutes, I felt a great gathering of spirit around me. They presented themselves as facets of light, of human height, but all smaller than myself. They were the Atua (ancestors and wairua) of this place. A kuia (elderly woman) came beside me. She wore a korowai (cloak). Not only had we been given permission to walk on, we were being accompanied up the mountainside.

The remainder of my group were waiting half way up the last part of the climb. Together we all walked up the final part of the mountain together, both the living and the dead.

Getting to the top, the views were magnificent. Breath taking. Looking across the Hauraki Gulf and the islands sitting in the gulf. This place was definitely special. It is a place of rest and reflection – for the people of that land, and momentarily for the living. It was a place where ritual had once occurred. And having been greeted as we were, I believe there must be an urupa (burial site) not far away.

On returning down the mountain I quietly gave gratitude and appreciation. I grew a new understanding of tapu on this day, and how to work with it. And I felt deeply honoured and blessed that these atua allowed it.

And so this is the nature of serendipity, we had not planned the day to go as it had. Life had connected us with our friends on this day. And I learned something very special about atua and tapu.

Who knew it would turn out as it did!

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