Waipu Caves – Easter Sunday 2016

As I entered the Waipu Caves, the feeling of familiarity was present. This sensation was not solely for these caves but caves in general. I felt at home with all the formations of rock. The shapes, bumps, curves, angles, smoothness, roughness, wetness, coolness was so comforting, it was like I had stepped into myself on a very zen day.

As I looked around I saw my art everywhere and in that I saw myself.

As Jesus was leaving the cave, I was entering.


In former times, the “tiki wananga”, or the godstick, was used for rites. It was usually fashioned in wood with a tiki at its head, and leading to a pointed base. For ritualistic occasions, cords and red feathers adorned the godstick making it become alive, so to speak. The spirit of the particular god represented then entered into the Godstick, and at this point the Godstick became the intermediary between the priest and the spirit with whom the priest wished to make contact.

Only priests or qualified persons could use the Godstick. Before calling upon a deity, the priest would either thrust the godstick into the ground, or hold it. He would then call upon the deity concerned to bless or help the tribe.

I especially dig the name – Godsticks, I am not surprised that a band nabbed it.

I am intrigued how all the Godsticks I have looked at have very different personalities. The image on the right is quite angry while the middle image looking straight ahead seems quite surprised. This humanness is compelling and  reminds me of soft toys, how they can also have very human expressions. It also informs me about the owners, I would imagine the middle god stick would belong to a softer Tohunga than the right side Godstick. Very much a case of judging a book by it’s cover. – judging  a Tohunga by its Godstick.

I am interested in the binding as it seems an unnecessary addition apart from ornamental –

The ornamental binding is of the same pattern which occurs on house rafters  

The binding is made from flax, harakeke, a plant that bring its own magic to the table. Not only used in Rongoa it also has spiritual value and is seen as the plant that represents the idea of families.

Binding for me is an act of holding something in, securing it, keeping it safe. It is about secrets and also survival. If you are proficient with your materials, your binding will show strength and if appropriate it will show practicality. For example if the rafters on a house were bound well you would feel safe, bound poorly and it is a risk to enter.

godsticks 6

Interesting – the  concept of ‘thrusting’ the godstick into the ground while calling upon deities  – the pushing into the earth, quite violently if you wish it to stay upright. Such a forceful physical move that contrasts with dealing with non physical deities. This is something I will play around with in my thoughts and perhaps in my work, the physical force versus the force and power of the non physical – or the force and power the non physical have been assigned in ones mind.

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Hallucinatory ‘voices’ shaped by local culture, Stanford anthropologist says

Stanford anthropologist Tanya Luhrmann found that voice-hearing experiences of people with serious psychotic disorders are shaped by local culture – in the United States, the voices are harsh and threatening; in Africa and India, they are more benign and playful. This may have clinical implications for how to treat people with schizophrenia, she suggests.

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