Several people have asked me what Minerva – goddess of Western / European city-states – is doing in a New Zealand bird card deck. World views, and mythologies, should be separate.
Should they? Or have mythologies always changed as we need to re-imagine our world?
Change came to our islands in two ways. With mammals; with people.
With mammals, the impacts are obvious in the game. They eat the birds!
And then there’s the people. Two kinds.
First there were the Polynesian Maori. While they made huge changes – their gods were in harmony with the landscape. Their mythology explained how we came to be here, and the respect we need to show for the landscape in order to thrive. It contained a very sophisticated view of the world that shares both the Celtic world-view, and that of modern physics.
Then there were the European settlers. They wanted to make this ‘empty landscape’ a Britain of the South Seas. So with picks and shovels they set about clearing forests. Up grew farms, towns, and cities.
How could our pakeha ancestors do this? Because our mythology was different. Minerva was our inspiration. (Also known as Athena, Britannia, and Zealandia: on our coat of arms).
In the Greek story, Zeus swallowed Metis, the goddess of wisdom, who was pregnant with Athene (Minerva). Just so the wisdom of the land can be swallowed up.
But his daughter burst fully formed, from his head. She is Metis, her Mother, in another form. Now the goddess of human community ‘cities are the gift of Athene (Minerva)’.
The birds in this set were part of this dynamic. They were introduced to live in our settlements. All except for kahu, the harrier that introduced itself from Australia – and thrived in the new landscape of open spaces…
This set – like their goddess – is not bad, if we (like the Celts) recognize wisdom in her. It was just new. And difficult to assimilate. As it is. . .