Jungian Therapy, Jungian Analysis, New York

Jungian analysis. Legends and fairy tales interpreted: Week 2, Fall 2008
New York city jungian therapist/analyst carl jung therapy

Two legends assigned for September 10th class on Jungian use of symbols and its relevance to therapy:


Selections from Maui cycle of legends

Sun, Fire

Before the events that are related in this story the days were shorter than they are and the nights were longer. Maui, with the help of his brothers, altered this to man’s advantage

How Maui Made The Sun Slow Down

One day Maui said to his wife: ‘Light a fire and cook some food for me.’ She did so, but no sooner had she heated her cooking stones in the earth-oven than thhe sun went down, and they had to eat their food in the dark. This set Maui to thinking how the days might be made longer. It was his opinion that they were shorter than they needed to be, and that the sun crossed the sky too quickly. So he said to his brothers: ‘Let us catch the sun in a noose and make him move more slowly. Then everybody would have long days in which to get their food and do all the things that have to be done.’

His brothers said it was impossible. ‘No man can go near the sun,’ they said. ‘It is far too hot and fierce.’ Maui answered: ‘Have you not seen all the things I have done already? You have seen me change myself into all the birds of the forest, and back again into a man as I am now. I did that by enchantments, and without even the help of the jawbone of my great ancestress, which I now have. Do you really suppose that I could not do what I suggest?’

The brothers were persuaded by these arguments, and agreed to help him. So they all went out collecting flax, and brought it home, and sat there twisting it and plaiting it. And this was when the methods were invented of plaiting flax into tuamaka, or stout, square-shaped ropes, and paharahara, or flat ropes; and the method of twisting the fibre into round ropes. When they had made all the ropes they needed, Maui took up the jawbone of Muri ranga whenua, and away they went, carrying their provisions with them, and the ropes. They travelled all that night, having set out at evening lest the sun should see them. When the first light of dawn appeared, they halted and hid themselves again, and in this way, travelling only when the sun could not observe them, they went far away to the eastward, until they came to the edge of the pit from which the sun rises.

On each side of this place they built a long high wall of clay, with huts made of branches at either end to hide in. There were four huts, one for each of the brothers. When all was ready they set their noose and saw that it was as strong as they could make it. The brothers lay waiting in the huts, and Maui lay hiding in the darkness behind the wall on the western side of the place where the sun rises. He held in his hand the jawbone of his ancestress, and now he gave his brothers their final instructions:

‘Mind you keep hidden,’ he said. ‘Don’t go letting him see you or you’ll frighten him off. Wait until his head and his shoulders are through the noose. Then when I shout, pull hard, and haul on the ropes as fast as you can. I will go out and knock him on the head, but do not any of you let go your ropes until I tell you. When he’s nearly dead we’ll let him loose. Whatever you do, don’t be silly and feel sorry for him when he screams. Keep the ropes good and tight until I say.’

And so they waited there in the darkness at the place where the sun rises. At length the day dawned, a chilly grey at first, then flaming red. And the sun came up from his pit, suspecting nothing. His fire spread over the mountains, and the sea was all glittering. He was there, the great su himself, to be seen by the brothers more closely than any man had ever seen him. He rose out of the pit until his head was through the noose, and then his shoulders. Then Maui shouted, and the ropes were pulled, the noose ran taut. The huge and flaming creature struggled and threshed, and leapt this way and that, and the noose jerked up and down and back and forth; but the more the captive struggled, the more tightly it held.

Then out rushed Maui with his enchanted weapon, and beat the sun about the head, and beat his face most cruelly. The sun screamed out, and groaned and shrieked, and Maui struck him savage blows, until the sun was begging him for mercy. The brothers held the ropes tight, as they had been told, and held on for a long time yet. Then at last when Maui gave the signal they let him go, and the ropes came loose, and the sun crept slowly and feebly on his course that day, and has done ever since. Hence the days are longer than they formerly were.

It was during this struggle with the sun that his second name was learned by man. At the height of his agony the sun cried out: ‘Why am I treated by you in this way? Do you know what it is you are doing, O you men?’ Why do you wish to kill Tama nui te ra?’ That was his name, meaning Great Son the Day, which was never known before.

After this feat of laming the sun, Maui and his brothers returned to their house and dwelt there.

It is said that one day Maui was exceedingly thirsty. No doubt this was after his visit to the sun. He asked the tieke, or saddleback, to fetch him a drink, but the bird paid no attention, so he threw it in the water and called another bird, the hihi, or stich-bird. The hihi also took no notice, so he threw it in the fire and its feathers were singed, which accounts for the color of that bird. He next tried the totoara, or robin, and when it also disobeyed him he placed a streak of white near its beak as a mark for its incivility. At last the kokako, the crow, complied with his request. It went to the water and filled its ears, and returned to Maui. He drank, and as a reward he pulled kokako’s legs to make them long, because it had done as he asked. This is true.



Before the events that are related in this story Mahuika alone possessed the gift of fire, and all fire in the world was got from her. After Maui had tricked her, fire was kept in the wood of certain trees, from which men were able to release it.

How Maui Played With Fire

In one of his mischievous moods Maui one day felt like putting out all the fires in the world. He knew that fire could be obtained only from his ancestress Mahuika, goddess of fire, and he wanted to see what would happen if he extinguished everybody's fire. During the night, therefore, he got up and went through the village putting out all the fires that were smouldering in the cooking houses of each family.

Early next morning he called out to his pononga, or servants: 'I'm hungry! I'm hungry! Cook some food for me, quickly.' One of the servants hurried to obey him, and found the fire out. He ran to the next house for a light, and went from house to house through the village. All the fires were out. Soon the whole village was up and talking about it and discussing what to do.

When Maui's mother heard what had happened she called some of the servants to her and ordered them to get ready to go to her great ancestress Mahuika. 'Tell her that fire has been lost on earth,' she said, 'and ask her to give some to the world again.' But the servants stood there trembling. Although they had not set eyes on Mahuika, they had heard about her and the place where she lived, and had no with to visit it. No punishment that might await them in the village would persuade them. The old people, the sacred chiefs, repeatedly commanded them to go, and they refused.

'Very well,' said Maui, who had been waiting for this, 'I will go. I will fetch down fire for the world, if you will show me the way.'

'If you will go then,' said his mother, 'you have only to follow that wide path in front of you there. Keep on, and you will reach the home of an ancestress of yours. You will not be able to mistake the place. All fire comes from there. If she asks you who you are, you had better call out your name at once, so that she may know you are a descendant of hers. But be careful, Maui, and don't try playing any of your tricks on her. Your father and I have heard about your deeds, and we know you are fond of deceiving and injuring people. If you happen to be thinking of playing some trick on your ancestress Mahuika, take my advice and do nothing of the sort.'

'No, no,' said Maui. 'I only want to bring back fire for the village. I shall come back as soon as I can get it.'

And so he left the village by the path that his mother had shown him, and after journeying, he reached the abode of the goddess of fire. What he saw there filled him with wonder, and for a long time he stood unable to speak. At length he spoke to Mahuika: 'Old ancestress, would you rise up and tell me where your fire is kept? All the fires in our village have gone out, and I have come to beg some from you.'

The old lady rose up to her full height. 'Aue!' she cried. 'Who can this mortal be?' And Maui answered: 'It is I.'

'Wher are you from?' Mahuika asked him.

'I have come,' Maui said.

'You do not belong to this country,' said the old woman. 'Your appearance is not like that of the people in this place. Do you come from the north-east?'

He answered, 'No.'

'Do you come from the south-east?'

'No.'

'Are you from the south?'

'No.'

'Are you from the west, then?'

'No.'

'Do you come from whence the wind comes that blows upon me?'

'And Maui said, 'I do.'

'Oh then,' she cried, 'you are my grandchild!' She stepped forward and put her face close up to his and asked him: 'What do you want here?'

'I am come to beg some fire of you. All the fires in our village have gone out.'

'Welcome! Welcome, then! cried the old woman. 'Here is fire for you.' And she pulled out the nail of koiti, her little finger, and gave it to him. As she drew it out, fire flowed from it. Maui marvelled at this, and took the nail, and left her. But he had only gone a short distance when he mischievously put it out. He went back to her and said: 'The light you gave me has gone out. He went back to her and said: 'The light you gave me has gone out. Would you give me another?' So she pulled out the nail of manawa, her third finger, and it became a flame, and she gave it to him. Maui left her, and this nail also he put out when he had gone a little distance. He wetted his hand, to show Mahuika he had fallen into a stream. Then she gave him the nail of mapere, her middle finger, and he did the same again, and Mahuika believed him each time. In this way she gave him the nail of koroa, her forefinger, and then of koro matua, her thumb. And each one of them Maui put out, and returned for more. He wanted to see what would happen if he took from Mahuika the last of her fire, and he now had not a thought for the fire they needed in the village. This went on until Mahuika had pulled out all the nails of her other hand, and then she began on her toes, until Maui had been given all the nails of her hands all those of her feet except for one big toe.

Then at last the old woman decided that Maui must be playing some trick on her. She drew out the one nail that remained, the nail of her big toe, and fire flowed from it. But instead of handing it to Maui, she dashed it to the ground, and the whole place caught fire.

'There, you have it all now!' she cried. And Maui was already running for his life, with the fire at his heels pursuing him. Looking round, he saw that the whole land would soon be aflame. So he changed himself into a karearea, or hawk, and tried to soar above the flames. But the fires pursued him there and scorched his feathers, which accounts for the color of that bird. Seeing a lake, he plunged down into it, but found that it was almost boiling. All the forests then caught fire, the land everywhere was alight, and Maui came very near death.

Then he called on his ancestor Tawhiri matea and all his offspring, to send down rain. 'Let water be given to quench this fire!' he cried, and spoke the appropriate chants. Great clouds appeared, and Tawhiri sent down first the small rain, and then the lasting rain, and everything was drenched, and the flames went out. Even Mahuika herself almost perished before she could reach her place of shelter, and her shrieks were as loud as those of Maui when he was scorched. The waters rose all around her, and in this way Mahuika was deprived of her former power. But fire was saved for the world. When the waters reached her tikitiki, or the topknot of her head, the last seeds of fie fled from it to the rata, the hinau, the kahikatea, the rimu, and certain other trees. These tees would not admit them, and so they went to the mahoe, the totara, the patete, the pukatea, and the kaikomako, where they were cherished. These are the trees from whose dry wood fire can be obtained by friction. The others are of no use for this purpose.

When Maui returned to the village his parents saw his burns and knew what had happened. They said to him: 'We warned you before you went there not to play any of your tricks on Mahuika, and yet you paid no attention. It serves you right that you were nearly burned to death.'

But Maui stood with his hands on his hips and took it lightly. 'Oh! what do I care?' he said. 'Do you think I'm going to be different because of this? Certainly not! I'm going to go on being the same. For ever!'

His father answered in a quiet voice: 'Yes, you may please yourself, whether you die or live. If you would only listen to me you would save your life, but if you will not, it will be the worse for you, and that is all I can say.'

After this, Maui went off looking for companions to join him in new adventures.

He did not bring any fire back for the village. From that day forward it was obtained by rubbing a stick of kaikomako, or one of the other trees, in a groove made in another piece of wood.




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