Chapter 24-The Taniwha of The Whanganui River

After another days rest, Molly and Will drove on towards Whanganui, via Woodville, Feilding and Palmerston North. Molly had never been along the Whanganui River Road, and it had been many years since Will had travelled that part of the country, the last time was during one of his childhood family holidays. He remembered the road to be metal, steep, windy and very scary. But now it was sealed, well, most of it. The weather during the previous week had been the cause of severe flooding and parts of the road had been washed away or taken out by slips. It was still accessible but slow going. The scenery was incredible, unique to this area, like nothing Molly had seen before. She had wanted to visit the river settlement of Jerusalem and the very special church and convent where Sister Suzanne Aubert had worked creating and dispensing her herbal remedies. The weather was sunny and warm and the countryside they drove through was so pretty. The steep windy road took them through farm land quite different to anywhere else they had visited. The area had such a remote feel to it. How challenging it must have been for the first settlers here, and the Maori before them. They stopped by the marae* looking for the local shop which had been signposted back on the main road, a hand painted sign with an arrow pointing up this road. They bought Jellytip ice-creams through the window of someone’s living room which had a hand written chalkboard out the front advertising the sale of ‘chippies and ice creams’. Looking up through the trees on the hillside, the church was visible in the adjacent street from where they stood. Driving up the hill, they parked the car near the original convent. There was access to the church and convent, both beautiful timber buildings from the 1800’s which had been well preserved and cared for. The convent was still available for hire for retreats and functions. The dorm-like accommodation was austere and simple, remnant of the kind of life the nuns would have lived here over 100 years ago. After enjoying the beautiful autumn day in the gardens and  exploring the buildings they continued up the Wanganui River Road to Oakune. 

Molly had booked accommodation for them at Oakune, a village at the base of Mt Ruapehu ski fields. Oakune is a pretty picturesque little village, with a stream running through the middle of it and the snow capped mountains as a backdrop. The motel unit was alongside the stream and within walking distance to the village. After a busy day, sleep that night came easily, but not for long. Molly woke at 2.59 am, wide awake and unable to get back to sleep, she knew that she needed to visit The Attic. Slipping quietly out of bed, tightly wrapping her bathrobe around her, she  poured herself a glass of water and placed it on the coffee table,  twisted her hair into a bun and settled into the comfortable leather armchair across the room from where Will was sleeping. Molly was becoming accustomed to this intriguing process of transcending Time and Space. She was amused  by  Will referring to it as Time Travel. Maybe it was…these experiences were so real, way beyond being just her imagination. Tangible, and yet etheric, surreal, sometimes dream-like and other times very, very real. She could not explain it or define what was happening to her, but it was quickly becoming the most natural thing to do. Sometimes these experiences/visions appeared to her in ways  not dissimilar to the advancements in film making with 3D imagery.

Her calm breathing brought to mind quickly the vision of being at the bottom of the stairs. This time she paid particular attention to what it felt like to be here. The wooden bannister railing felt solid beneath her hand, her bare feet could feel the wooden treads of the stairs, and she could hear the slight creaking of her weight upon them. She even felt a slight breeze coming down the stairs through the open door into The Attic! Laughter and chatting travelled on the breeze and Molly wondered who was with Grace, as she tapped lightly on the slightly open door.

“Come on in Molly, we have been expecting you,” Grace called out. Inside the room she found Grace sitting on the floor with The Aunties, they were showing her how to weave with flax. “You need to do this too Molly, because there is a gift that you are required to make for the Taniwha (Maori word meaning water spirit or guardian) of the Wanganui River. The Aunties had prepared the flax already for creating a small kete (basket). First they said a prayer, giving thanks for the flax and showed Grace and Molly a simple, basic weaving pattern to follow. Molly’s hands felt awkward at first, feeling their way around bending and flexing the flax in tightly and neatly. The Aunties laughed at her, making light of the serious look of concentration on her face. 

Molly got frustrated, because when she got tense about it, the weaving made a wobble in the fabric she was creating. She learned quickly to relax her hands and not try so hard.

“Breathe, relax and focus, take your time,” they reminded her. On completion of these tiny baskets, The Aunties gave them a blessing and placed inside them freshly cut fruit and a gold coin, and suggested for Molly to pick up her basket and follow them. Out the door of The Attic they went, down the wooden stairs and into what had now become forest. It smelt so wonderful, damp earth, the fresh fragrance of plants and trees. Piwakawaka’s (Fantails native to New Zealand) darted between the trees, showing them the way forward, on towards the river. As they walked along the river, weaving through the tall grasses, the Piwakawaka continued to lead them, on into an area of lush green grass worn flat by the many visitors that had been passing that way before them. There was easy access to the waters edge. One of the Aunties stopped, holding up her hand for all of them to do the same. She began singing to the river, the lament in her voice evoked emotion in Molly, stirring something deep inside of her, and the feeling of sadness washed over her. The singing stopped and all that could be heard was the fast moving water rushing over the smooth boulders, the bell bird’s call in the distance and the sniffling associated with tears. She then indicated to them where Molly and Grace were required to sit. 

They sat in the silence for what seemed to Molly as a very, very, very long time…the only sound now was that of the rapidly moving water. What were they waiting for? Her mind started to wander, suddenly brought back to the moment as the rushing water appeared to move in slow motion, forming a deep pool of still water. Had the river stopped flowing? Molly looked on fascinated. Dead calm, not a breeze in the air, not a rustle of leaves in the trees, not a ripple on the waters surface, they looked on, staring deep into the water where tiny bubbles began to rise to the surface. Right before them slowly rising up out of the calm water, was what appeared as an amazing creature, almost mythical, quite dragon-like. It was the Taniwha, the guardian of the river. He moved towards them, effortlessly in the calm water, and the women motioned for her to look downwards, to not look him in the eye. Respectfully Molly concentrated on keeping her eyes looking down at the grass before her, despite the temptation urging her to see what this mystical creature looked like up close. He spoke in a language she did not understand, and one of the Aunties held out their ketes, and indicated for  Molly to do the same. The Taniwha took the gifts and said in a loud voice Molly could understand, looked directly at her, “Look up, child of the stars and see into the eyes of Eternity!” Molly slowly raised her gaze and found herself looking directly into the face of the Taniwha, with its wide nostrils, scaly skin, big sharp teeth, and large eyes the colour of darkest green, like polished pounamu. Spellbound, she stared into these eyes, unable to look anywhere else, and watched as they changed colour to the deepest blue, the colour of the nights sky, in which she saw countless stars twinkling. She could feel herself falling, or was she being drawn into the Taniwha’s eyes, these portals which accessed multiple dimensions. In the glistening dark blue orbs, she saw within them the history of mankind flashing backwards across Time and Space, through the many different civilisations which have existed on this very land over the eons, of the formation of the land, mountains, rivers and oceans. She could feel and hear the groaning and shuddering of these land masses rising and falling, the very air reverberating with the movement of these immense plates of land. She saw rocks and mountains melting into liquid lava, the rivers and lakes reverting to glaciers, snow and ice covered everything. All this flashed before her eyes like scenes from a movie. Then the vision went beyond New Zealand, beyond Earth to the solar system, the Milky Way Galaxy and beyond, seeing the countless multiple galaxies, trailing off into the back blocks of the Universe. Rapidly these scenes flashed before her eyes until there was just stillness and one bright star, a single point of light in the distant. The silence was like being in a void, no sound, no echo, no breeze.

The Taniwha broke the silence, his voice travelling across the nothingness to Molly. “This is the Point of Creation, this Light you see before you, dwells within us all. It is the one common thread that connects all life-force energy. It is the Oneness many speak of – beyond the physical and into the physical both. It is Source Energy, God,  Great Spirit, The Creator Of All That Is. You each carry a spark of this, call it your soul, call it what you will. It is your Soul Light. Pay attention here, to this Soul Light.” The Taniwha’s voice fades off in an eerie echo, its last words lingering in the stillness, as the brilliant light before her started to fade into the distance. With a strong tug between her shoulder blades, Molly felt herself being pulled back through Time and Space, travelling at the speed of light, through what she could only imagine to be as a worm hole and landed with a hard thud on the grass back by the rivers edge. She could hear a rustling sound, and glanced down, keeping her body still, trying to be inconspicuous, to see the Taniwha rummaging in the ketes, munching on the pieces of fruit and looking to the bottom of each one, as if he was searching for something in particular. He removed the gold coin from each basket and placed them on the rock beside him, and continued looking for something else. And then satisfied with what he had found, he pulled out of the basket a small Whittaker’s chocolate bar. He nods his head in approval, carefully removing the chocolate from its wrapper with his claws, his lips smacked with anticipation as he savoured the rich chocolate with delicate bites, and satisfied mumbling between mouthfuls, he says, “Aaaah……Mmmmm….kia ora Aunties!” 

It was one of the Aunties, who then helped Molly to her feet, and led her along the rivers edge back through the forest to the bottom of the steps of The Attic. She turned to say thank you, but the Aunty had already gone. On the floor by her feet was a small flax kete, a momento of her visit to the Taniwha of The Wanganui River. Unsure of whether to go up the stairs or return to the motel room, Molly sat on the bottom step, staring at the small kete in her hands. It was not often she had a moment to herself after such an experience, to contemplate and allow to sink in what she had just been a part of. Usually she felt like she was slammed back into her body and into the physical world she shared with Will. It was unpleasant at times, well most times. But now she was wanting to do it differently, have a little more control over how she did this. And that felt good. Grace watched on from the top of the stairs, not wanting to distract her, silently she pointed her finger beyond the bottom of the stairs, sending a stream of sparkling energy through the air over Molly’s head and into the house below. Molly looked up, curiosity persuaded her to go exploring before returning to Will. She did not realise that it was possible for her to explore the house beyond The Attic in this way. Grace had never mentioned it, and she had just presumed that because Grace rarely left The Attic, that she was not able to either. 

Quietly, she stood up and walked down the hall to the kitchen, feeling a little like a visitor in her own home, it was more than just a little weird. She paused at the kitchen door way, where she saw Lucy busy making something. She looked up to see Molly and simply smiled at her, not the least bit surprised to see her there. Molly heard the words, “Cup of tea, Miss Molly?” But Lucy just looked at her with an all knowing smile. “Oh yes please Lucy!” Molly realised her thoughts had the power of actual words in this dimension, this World Between Worlds, that she now understood expanded beyond The Attic. However, she did make a point of not venturing too much further from The Attic and to be sure to return there to be able to get back to her body in the Physical World. It was a little scary, but also incredibly exciting. Sitting down somewhat unsteadily at the table, Lucy poured them both a cup of tea and sat down to join her. Her eyes seemed to speak to Molly, the bright twinkle projecting thoughts as words. “Oh Miss Molly, your hands are shaking, it will settle as you become accustomed to it,” Lucy thought. “Enjoy your tea, it will help you to feel better.” Molly had never, ever had a conversation with Lucy before, and of all times to be stuck for words, now was not one of them. But the words did not come, she was spellbound. Lucy laughed, the sound reminded her of tinkling crystal wind chimes.

“Will you come and visit again Miss Molly? In this way? That would be wonderful because it is so much easier to have a conversation with you like this. Isn’t it grand?” Lucy sat with her head in her hands looking at Molly, so happy. She had never seen Lucy like this before, her energy shimmered, she was radiant. But Molly began to feel woozy, nauseous and her head began to hurt. Lucy noticed the drop in her energy immediately, and called out to Grace. “Miss Grace! We need your help! Miss Molly, we must get you back up stairs immediately,” Lucy rushed to her side, supporting her arm, helped her to stand and walk back to the stairs, where Grace was waiting by the door at the top for them. Grace held her hands out to Molly, the energy giving her strength to get back to The Attic. Lucy helped her up the stairs and laid her down on the daybed. Molly was quite limp, and Grace did look concerned. “Next time you wish to go exploring can you please check in with me first?” Grace patted Molly’s hand affectionately. “Give me a moment whilst I mix a little brew for you.” Lucy sat on the floor by the daybed and held Molly’s hand, just a little concerned herself. This was new to Lucy too, having someone from the Physical World visit her in this way. Handing Molly a tiny bottle of drops, Grace explained, “You have not done anything wrong Molly, except that you were not prepared for what you wanted to do. A little instruction and guidance first is a good idea. Next time we shall do this together, yes?” She stroked Molly’s forehead fondly. “Take a couple of drops of this now, and again when you return to the Physical World. Close your eyes and you’ll be back in your body, a little more gently this time. I want you to listen to me as I count backwards from 10….9…..” Grace’s voice began to fade and Molly became aware of the heaviness of her body in the armchair back in the motel room. Her head ached, as did every muscle in her body. As she opened her eyes and looked around the room, her vision was blurry, and it felt like her tongue was stuck to the roof of her mouth. Slightly disorientated, she looked around for a glass of water, and found it on the table next to her. Will remained asleep in bed, undisturbed by her adventures, daylight was visible through the slightly parted curtains, and Molly sat in the arm chair breathing heavily, her eyes wide open now. She looked down to see that in her hands, was a small dark brown glass dropper bottle. She smiled and took another dose of the remedy Grace had made for her. It was so soothing, and immediately she felt her body relax, her eyes dry and weary. As she stood up, the bathrobe fell to the floor, her long dark hair tumbling down her back, and gently she slid her naked body between the cotton sheets into bed next to Will, spooning up behind his warm body, relieved by the sensation of his body against hers. Exhausted, sleep embraced her instantly, and she felt herself falling gently, drifting dreamlessly.                

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