They came to me,
Grandmothers whaling like our Kui
during a tangi but in a foreign tongue.
Markings adorned their chins but
symbols from distant sands,
Geometric lines stretched like
horizons greeting the Sun.
They came to me, called me like a mother calls her child in from playing. Like a Karanga sent forth upon the breath of Tawhiri Matea. The ancient ones called me home. Some of my greatest teachings have been passed down while trusting the silent yet timeless promptings within. My nomadic spirit has always guided the rites in which have fashioned my understanding of life and all its complexities. This calling to explore Morocco and Berber culture far outweighs my desire to conform to a world lost within neo-colonialism, systematic colonization and racism. And although we are very privileged here in Aotearoa we are still healing as Tangata Whenua. My passion to express myself fully and truthfully sits at the womb of my offerings as a woman of colour, as a mother, storyteller and truth seer.
The eyes of the Amazigh transcends the need to speak. A language void of sound, a language embroidered with symbols, sacred symbols, a storyboard of migrating wisdom that maps the star’s, desert’s and sea’s. One’s soul is grounded in knowing that chronological time and space is but an illusion, as you step back into an ancient, slower, more rhythmic way of being.
I came to Morocco in search of traditional healing, only to be lead down passages of ancient teachings, where stories are told through Great Grandmother weaving. Carved into Kasbah fashioned from clay, through Ancestral Mountains, from the Atlas to the Atlantic sea. I came because the Grandmothers called me, and everywhere I turned the people stared curiously. Berber they say, you are Berber as my belly filled with a knowing so familiar. Drape me in a silk scarf and you couldn’t tell the difference between a local mother and me.
The exchange of energy between the Tangata Whenua and their families, and those passing through the villages south of Marrakech is one of acceptance and peace. A simple but noble people, trading herbs and spices grown and prepared in traditional gardens. Where underground irrigation systems feed the root systems of succulent plant medicine. Olive, Almond and Pomegranate trees lining gravel roads, produce fall from the branches blossoming rau. Its Winter here and the Sun beats down upon my skin like the drumbeat of Summer as TamanuiteRa clears the passage for the migration over the tisi tishka. I cover my head with a scarf hand dyed with saffron, the scent alone shrouds me in healing.
Villages molded from clay crumble in the valley of a thousand Kasbah, draping the sub-Western Sahara. The earth is red here, and when we move through the Mountains I feel the presence of our own Wahine Atua. Hineahuone lay bare breasted beneath the skin of the desert, curves folded between sunsets and sand-dunes. She speaks. The red of the earth protruding like the roots of an Argan tree, which the locals adorn their bodies both internally and externally.
Women live a very internalized life here, very rarely are they seen and that is not a sign of oppression, more so a gesture of humility, privacy, and protection. Their stories dancing their way out into the world through the teachings handed down from generation to generation. A sign language spoken with their hands as the wisdom of their ancestral trails reach all four corners of the globe. Wool rugs hand-loomed by a local artisan who is learned in the story-lines of their people’s origins, fourth and fifth generation elders hold the wisdom of their tribes.
The immense amount of patience taken to weave one rug can sometimes take up to one month, so next time you purchase hand made textiles, pottery or basketry don’t negotiate with the makers, always pay full asking price, because until you see and feel the time, love and energy that goes into each creation you will come to understand money of the western world really holds little value over the stories your taking home. The same symbols you see on the rugs you desire are found carved into the Kasbah that has for thousands of years sat at the heart of a world woven with ancient migration. Explorers guiding traveling caravans through the Sahara exchanging music and culture, camels draped with fabric, rugs, salt and the most valuable resource of all, Gold! Nomads navigating the desert lead by Berber navigators from Timbuktu to the outer seams of northern Africa.
Photo Troy Martin
Kasbah Des Caids
Young girls of the Amazigh rarely bare the markings of their fore-mothers today. Migrating from Egypt through Libya, Algeria and onto Morocco. These ancient symbols are the measurers of time and space. Filtering through the Pacific similarities are found in the markings of Batuk, Tatau, and Taa Moko, a true depiction of the migration of Indigenous world over. I have heard stories from Tohuna here about Maui Potikitikitiki a Taranga migrating down from Egypt, and although this sits in the in-between spaces of my conscious and subconscious minds, I have always known I come from the far north, and I have always felt linked to the mystical teachings of ancient Egyptian temples.
We are direct descendants of Nga Atua, that is something we as Maori know to be true, it is found within the teachings of Te Reo Rangatira, it is seen within the weavings of Tukutuku, it is felt in our Takutaku. The gifts our Ancestors carried traversed galaxies, we know this by their sheer capacity to trace the river’s in the ocean, currents lead by the song of the Tohora (Whale). It is our responsibility to reactivate the inherited greatness we possess, it is our birthright to link into this infinite wisdom and remember who we truly are. We adorn ourselves with Moko, but do we take the time to understand the language of it’s song, and who composed and orchestrated its chorus. Do we stop to contemplate the world and its lust for a trending culture, cultural appropriation and theft?
The symbols carried from camel to canoe are found within the very essence of creation itself, in every grain of sand and every drop of water. When i bow in the presence of Maunga like my Ancestral Mountain, Taranaki, does he not represent some of the most ancient and powerful sacred geometry that lives? Not only is he a pyramid untouched by the hands of man, he birthed time and time again from the erupting womb of Papatuanuku. He is host to millions of communities of endemic rakau, fern, bird, insect, and fungi all who carry the mauri of sacred geometry. I am no expert, but I know what I feel, and I listen to, and feel what I know! And perhap’s that is what the world needs more of, maybe we need to feel more and think less, listen more and talk less, trust more and doubt less!
I was blessed with meeting an elder who’s chin was carved in tribal ink in a remote southern village of Skoura. Like that of my own people, these stories and symbols found upon our walls, woven in basketry, and spoken orally. Juniper painted in doorways act as a talisman to reflect unwanted energies, they say women cover their heads so evil spirits can’t enter their bodies through their mouths and this makes sense to me. As with my people, our heads are the most sacred part of one’s body. Makawe means hair, Ma means white or clean, Ma/Rama Clear or Enlightenment, Kawe means to carry. The DNA our hair carries is rich in the Mana of our Ancestors, the tapu of our cellular memory is held here upon our heads. The sacred threads are purely an extension of our cosmological make-up, Tupuna, and Mana. A living entity of our collected experiences past, present and future.