Waiheke, Aotearoa New Zealand

June 28, 2020

Matariki.

pre-s. This week's video letter is here. Enjoy the stars. :)

Depending on which iwi you're with, this week marks the start of Matariki, Aotearoa New Zealand's winter solstice festival.

It's a time for remembering those we lost. Those who remain here. For connecting with our place in the world. And it makes me look back.

Here on Waiheke, it's been brought by a deluge of deep grey rain clouds, a sky cut open. A steady stream of water from my roof, down to the tanks that sustain me.

Matariki's start is marked by the rise of my life-long favorite constellation, the Pleiades (fittingly, Matariki in Te Reo) - and even if its rise this year is mostly hiding behind the clouds, you can still feel it, hanging there.

On the back side of your chest. Up high, near the heart. That place in our bodies that still knows what the milky way means, that wilts, wincing, under the oppression of city lights.

Two decades ago, in younger and less jaded days, I used to mark the winter solstice with a big thing that took the whole night. A bonfire. Stars. A look back and a look forward.

But as the years have passed, and I've let "busy" change what was important to me, those night-long rituals have turned into quick glances at the calendar. "Oh. It's the solstice. Crap. I meant to celebrate it this year."

Travel turned things even more. Seasons flowing out of order and inside out. I found the sun. But at the cost of a connection to the night.

And I've missed it.

Look anywhere you want on the world, and you'll find the solstices and equinoxes staring back at you, every culture's telling a bit different.

They're written in our blood, the world we stand on, the world we're built from. Remind us of what we are. Where we are. When we are.

And that no matter how long the night, the dawn will always come.

Have a star-lit week,

-Steven

p.s. The best thing I saw all week was this jaw-droppingly gorgeous view of Hong Kong - from the skies. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYO1uk7vIcc

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