The winter solstice has just passed and here in New Zealand we are weathering the colder conditions – it’s a time to draw inwards and take time through the long winter nights to reflect on life, the universe, and higher things. In addition to marking the longest night and the shortest day, for the first time this year, just after the winter solstice, the country celebrated Matariki, as a public holiday. This is the beginning of the new year in the Maori lunar calendar and is the Maori name for the Pleiades star cluster, which first rises in late June or early July. In Maori tradition, this celebration involved looking back and mourning those who had passed in the previous year and making forecasts for the year to come.
Some of us took the opportunity of a new holiday at Matariki to meet up for a study day. Two of us from the Auckland study group drove down to Tauranga where two long time readers from our group had moved to last year. We stayed overnight, and then studied Paper 155 in the morning, which led to some very interesting and thought-provoking discussion and insights, particularly into the religion of the mind and the religion of the spirit.
We also reflected on key events of the previous year, and in our forecasts of the year to come, the conference in Tasmania was at the forefront. Quite a few New Zealand readers are planning to go, and we are looking forward very much to reuniting with everyone face to face for the first time in some years and enjoying even more stimulating discussions and the great joy of spiritual fellowship.