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Writing with Writers
Myth Brainstorming Machine


Oceania & Australia

Maui of a Thousand Tricks was an ugly, excitable, but quick-witted half-divine, half-mortal trickster who was covered in tattoos. If he didn't like the ways things were, he changed them. And there were many things Maui didn't like. For example, the sun.

Every day, Maui watched human beings scramble to work, or plant, or cook, or make bark cloth in the few precious hours between sunrise and sunset. There was never enough time, the sun moved too fast, the people suffered. They had no choice but to eat their food raw.

Maui grabbed his rope and his grandmother's magic jawbone. With a quick flick of the rope, he lassoed the sun and beat the sun-god with the jawbone, until the golden one agreed to move more slowly across the sky. Then Maui looked closely at the sky itself. It hung way too low. With a mighty heave, Maui shoved the firmament up higher.

The Maui went fishing.

His brother wouldn't share their bait, so Maui punched his own nose and used his blood to fish. He hauled in catches so big they became the Polynesian islands.

The mythologies of Oceania and Australia tell of long, symbolic journeys, creation but no beginning, time that is timeless, gods, heroes like Maui, even animals whose actions shaped the world. All these myths and their fascinating variations were shared orally by kin, clan, or island group because the people of the Pacific did not originally have writing.