Jungian Therapy, Jungian Analysis, New York

Legends and fairy tales interpreted: Week 1: Fall 2008
New York city jungian therapist/analyst carl jung therapy
Maori legends, Jungian therapy/analysis, and dream interpretation.

1. Introduction to Jungian interpretation - first week

Selections from the Maui cycle of legends (New Zealand)


First week's tales

Before the events that are related in this story, Maui possessed the power of changing his own shape, but commanded no enchantment over other thins or over nature. After he had obtained the jawbone of Muri ranga whenua he was able to perform great deeds for the benefit of man.

How Maui Obtained The Sacred Jawbone

Soon after he had found where his parents lived Maui carried off and slew his first victim. She was the daughter of Maru te whare aitu, and when he had dealt with her in a brutal fashion he dealt with her father also. By means of enchantments he caused this old man’s crops to wither, and they were all destroyed.

He then decided to make another visit to his parents, and this time he remained for a while in the country of the manapau trees. One day he noticed that some people were in the habit of carrying to a certain place some kono, or small baskets of food, for some old person.

‘Who is that food for? he asked them, and one of the people who were going with it answered: ‘It is for your ancestress Muri ranga whenua.”

‘Where does she live?’ he asked, and they answered, ‘Over there.’

‘All right,’ he said. ‘That will do now. Leave the kono here. I will take them to her myself.’

From that time on Maui himself carried the daily presents of food that were meant for that old woman. But he never gave them to her, he merely went towards the place where she lived and hid the food in the bushes, and this he did for many days. 

At length the old chieftainess realised that there was some mischief going on, and the next time Maui came by she put her nose in the air and sniffed. She sniffed and sniffed, feeling sure that there was food not far away. By now she was greatly exasperated by her many days of hunger, and her stomach began to swell our, ready to eat up Maui as soon as he came within reach. Leaning on her stick the old woman turned towards the south, and sniffed the air, but no scent of food or man could she detect. She turned her nose round slowly to the east, and then to the north, sniffing carefully at every angle. Still no scent of food or man could she detect, and she would have devoured either, instantly. She almost thought she must have been mistaken, but then she turned to the west for one more try. From the west, the scent of a man came plainly to her nose, and she cried: ‘I know from the smell in this breeze that someone is close to me.’ As she began to feel about her with her stick Maui murmured something, and she knew at once that he was a descendent of hers. Her stomach, which had been distended to a great size, began to shrink again. This was fortunate for Maui. If his scent had not been carried to that old woman’s nose by the westerly breeze, she would certainly have eaten him up. 

When her stomach had resumed its normal size the old woman asked him, ‘Are you Maui?’ and he answered in a respectful voice: ‘Even so.’ Then she drew near and peered at him with her eyes that were nearly blind. ‘Why did you cheat your old ancestress like that?’ she said. ‘Why have you been hiding my dinner, so that I have had nothing to eat these many days?’ And she pointed with a crooked finger to her toothless and empty mouth. ‘Ei?’ she asked, and poked young Maui with her finger.

In a voice that showed he was not in the least afraid of her, Maui answered: ‘I was anxious that your jawbone, which has magic properties, should be given to me.’

‘Take it,’ said the old woman. ‘It has been kept for you till now.’

So saying she took her jawbone--for she was dead all down one side from being starved--and handed it to Maui. He carried it to the stream to wash off the blood and the bits of rotten flesh, and the blood went into the kokopu, giving that fish its reddish colour. After this he returned with the jawbone to the place where his brothers lived.

Soon afterwards Maui took a wife, and this led to the first of the exploits that he performed with the help of the jawbone of his ancestress. His wife went one day to wash herself in a still stream, and while she was in the water Tuna roa, the ancestor of eels, came slithering around her and made himself objectionable. That is, he touched her most improperly. When she went home she said to Maui: ‘There is a man in that pool with very smooth skin.’

Maui at once felt jealous and decided to kill Tuna. He dug a trench beside the pool, and laid down nine logs as skids, so that Tuna might slide over them as when a canoe is launched. Then he told his wife to sit near the trench while he put up a screen to hide himself. Soon Tuna was seen swimming towards her, ad as he slithered over the skids Maui ran out and slew him with the enchanted weapon. One end of Tuna went into the sea and became the ngoiro, or conger eel. The other end became the fresh-water eel and is still called tuna. A part of him became the kareao, or supple-jack, whose smooth black canes, like eels among the river-weed, entangle the forest undergrowth today. And the blood of Tuna was absorbed by the rimu, the totara, and other trees, giving their wood its reddish color. 

After this exploit Maui lived quietly with his wife, and children were born to them.