Photograph: Detail of front of Tamatekapua, a wharenui (Meeting house) at Te Papaiouru Marae, Ōhinemutu, Rotorua (22 January 2005), The North Island, New Zealand. Photo by James Shook, who retains copyright and releases the image under the license shown below.
– from en.wikipedia  22:36, 18 October 2005, JShook, CC BY 2.5
Course: The Great Spirit Speaks: Voices of the Wise Ones (June 2021)
Faculty Mentor: Kevin Locke
I was pleased to have been able to join this course which enabled me to increase my limited knowledge about the indigenous messengers of North America, and to gain a greater appreciation and understanding of their relevance to the history of religion in the light of Bahá’u’lláh’s teaching about progressive revelation. As an Australian citizen of Welsh parentage, the course served as a stepping stone for me to learn more about the heritage of indigenous Australian beliefs. I am inspired to learn about the beliefs and culture of the Maori people of New Zealand where I now reside. Great emphasis is being given in the local Bahá’í community to becoming better versed in Maori tikanga or cultural rules, customs and rituals. I hope to be able to deepen my knowledge of the Maori community and language while I am here.
While I was in Australia, I did research and found a “Fire Blessing” which I shared at a talk I was invited to give to a group of Bahá’ís. I also incorporated an Acknowledgement of Country for the Yugambeh people of that area. I had an idea to create a fabric art piece. I bought a length of cloth designed by an Aboriginal artist onto which I am planning to applique a rainbow serpent, which is a common symbol among various indigenous tribes representing the uniting of the tribes, the creator, and the bringer of peace. When finished, it may serve as a stimulus for a talk when I visit Australia in the future.
Many thanks to the Wilmette Institute, the organizers, and the teachers of the course for providing this important opportunity to learn and fully appreciate the history of the indigenous messengers. I benefited from the good balance of articles and other resources such as videos, as well as the opportunity to participate in the student forum throughout the course.