Māori mythology and Māori traditions are the two major categories into which the legends of the Māori of New Zealand may usefully be divided. The rituals and the world view of Māori society were based on an elaborate mythology, inherited from a Polynesian homeland and adapted and developed in the new setting. Few records survive of the extensive body of Māori mythology and tradition from the early years of European contact; the missionaries had the best opportunity to get the information, but failed to do so at first, in part because their knowledge of the language was imperfect. Most of the missionaries who did master the language were unsympathetic to Māori beliefs, regarding them as'puerile beliefs', or even'works of the devil'. Exceptions to this general rule were J. F. Wohlers of the South Island, Richard Taylor, who worked in the Taranaki and Wanganui River areas, William Colenso who lived at the Bay of Islands and in Hawke's Bay. "The writings of these men are among our best sources for the legends of the areas in which they worked".
In the 1840s Edward Shortland, Sir George Grey, other non-missionaries began to collect the myths and traditions. At that time many Māori were literate in their own language and the material collected was, in general, written by Māori themselves in the same style as they spoke; the new medium seems to have had minimal effect on the content of the stories. Genealogies and narratives were written out in full, just as if they were being recited or sung. Many of these early manuscripts have been published, as of 2012 scholars have access to a great body of material containing multiple versions of the great myth cycles known in the rest of Polynesia, as well as of the local traditions pertaining only to New Zealand. A great deal of the best material is found in two books, Nga Mahi a nga Tupuna, collected by Sir George Grey and translated as Polynesian Mythology; the three forms of expression prominent in Māori and Polynesian oral literature are genealogical recital and narrative prose. The reciting of genealogies was well developed in Māori oral literature, where it served several functions in the recounting of tradition.
Firstly it served to provide a kind of time scale which unified all Māori myth and history, from the distant past to the present. It linked living people to the legendary heroes. By quoting appropriate genealogical lines, a narrator emphasised his or her connection with the characters whose deeds were being described, that connection proved that the narrator had the right to speak of them. "In the cosmogonic genealogies, to be described genealogical recital is revealed as a true literary form. What appears at first sight to be a mere listing of names is in fact a cryptic account of the evolution of the universe"'. Māori poetry was always chanted. Rhyme or assonance were not devices used by the Māori; the lines are indicated by features of the music. The language of poetry tends to differ stylistically from prose. Typical features of poetic diction are the use of synonyms or contrastive opposites, the repetition of key words. "Archaic words are common, including many which have lost any specific meaning and acquired a religious mystique.
Abbreviated, sometimes cryptic utterances and the use of certain grammatical constructions not found in prose are common". Prose narrative forms the great bulk of Māori legendary material; some appears to have been sacred or esoteric, but many of the legends were well-known stories told as entertainment in the long nights of winter. "Nevertheless, they should not be regarded as fairy tales to be enjoyed only as stories. The Māui myth, for example, was important not only as entertainment but because it embodied the beliefs of the people concerning such things as the origin of fire, of death, of the land in which they lived; the ritual chants concerning firemaking, death, so on made reference to Māui and derived their power from such reference". Myths are set in the remote past and their content have to do with the supernatural, they present Māori ideas of people. The mythology accounts for natural phenomena, the weather, the stars and the moon, the fish of the sea, the birds of the forest, the forests themselves.
Much of the culturally institutioned behaviour of the people finds its sanctions in myth. "Perhaps the most distinctive feature of myth, as distinct from tradition, is its universality. Each of the major myths is known in some version not only throughout New Zealand but over much of Polynesia as well"; the Māori understanding of the development of the universe was expressed in genealogical form. These genealogies appear in many versions, in which several symbolic themes recur. "Evolution may be likened to a series of periods of darkness or voids, each numbered in sequence or qualified by some descriptive term. In some cases the periods of darkness are succeeded by periods of light. In other versions the evolution of the universe is likened to a tree, with its base, tap roots, branching roots, root hairs. Another theme likens evolution to the development of a child in the womb, as in the sequence “the seeking, the searching, the conception, the growth, the feeling, the thought, the mi
A demon is a supernatural and malevolent being prevalent in religion, literature, fiction and folklore. The original Greek word daimon does not carry negative connotations; the Ancient Greek word δαίμων daimōn denotes a spirit or divine power, much like the Latin genius or numen. The Greek conception of a daimōn notably appears in the works of Plato, where it describes the divine inspiration of Socrates. In Ancient Near Eastern religions and in the Abrahamic traditions, including ancient and medieval Christian demonology, a demon is considered a harmful spiritual entity which may cause demonic possession, calling for an exorcism. In Western occultism and Renaissance magic, which grew out of an amalgamation of Greco-Roman magic, Jewish Aggadah and Christian demonology, a demon is believed to be a spiritual entity that may be conjured and controlled; the Ancient Greek word δαίμων daimōn denotes a spirit or divine power, much like the Latin genius or numen. Daimōn most came from the Greek verb daiesthai.
The Greek conception of a daimōn notably appears in the works of Plato, where it describes the divine inspiration of Socrates. To distinguish the classical Greek concept from its Christian interpretation, the former is anglicized as either daemon or daimon rather than demon; the original Greek word daimon does not carry the negative connotation understood by implementation of the Koine δαιμόνιον, ascribed to any cognate words sharing the root. The Greek terms do not have any connotations of malevolence. In fact, εὐδαιμονία eudaimonia, means happiness. By the early Roman Empire, cult statues were seen, by pagans and their Christian neighbors alike, as inhabited by the numinous presence of the gods: "Like pagans, Christians still sensed and saw the gods and their power, as something, they had to assume, lay behind it, by an easy traditional shift of opinion they turned these pagan daimones into malevolent'demons', the troupe of Satan..... Far into the Byzantine period Christians eyed their cities' old pagan statuary as a seat of the demons' presence.
It was no longer beautiful, it was infested." The term had first acquired its negative connotations in the Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek, which drew on the mythology of ancient Semitic religions. This was inherited by the Koine text of the New Testament; the Western medieval and neo-medieval conception of a demon derives seamlessly from the ambient popular culture of Late Antiquity. The Hellenistic "daemon" came to include many Semitic and Near Eastern gods as evaluated by Christianity; the supposed existence of demons remains an important concept in many modern religions and occultist traditions. Demons are still feared due to their alleged power to possess living creatures. In the contemporary Western occultist tradition, a demon is a useful metaphor for certain inner psychological processes, though some may regard it as an objectively real phenomenon; some scholars believe that large portions of the demonology of Judaism, a key influence on Christianity and Islam, originated from a form of Zoroastrianism, were transferred to Judaism during the Persian era.
Both deities and demons can act as intermediaries to deliver messages to humans. Thus they share some resemblance to the Greek daimonion; the exact definition of "demon" in Egyptology posed a major problem for modern scholarship, since the borders between a deity and a demon are sometimes blurred and the ancient Egyptian language lacks a term for the modern English "demon". However, magical writings indicate that ancient Egyptians acknowledged the existence of malevolent demons by highlighting the demon names with red ink. Demons in this culture appeared to be subordinative and related to a specific deity, yet they may have acted independent from the divine will; the existence of demons can be related beyond the created world. But this negative connotation cannot be denied in light of the magical texts; the role of demons in relation to the human world remains ambivalent and depends on context. Ancient Egyptian demons can be divided into two classes: "guardians" and "wanderers." "Guardians" are tied to a specific place.
Demons protecting the underworld may prevent human souls from entering paradise. Only by knowing right charms is the deceased able to enter the Halls of Osiris. Here, the aggressive nature of the guardian demons is motivated by the need to protect their abodes and not by their evil essence. Accordingly, demons guarded the gates to the netherworld. During the Ptolemaic and Roman period, the guardians shifted towards the role of Genius loci and they were the focus of local and private cults; the "wanderers" are associated with possession, mental illness and plagues. Many of them serve as executioners for the major deities, such as Ra or Osiris, when ordered to punish humans on earth or in the netherworld. Wanderers can be agents of chaos, arising from the world beyond creation to bring about misfortune and suffering without any divine instructions, led only by evil motivations; the influences of the wanderers can be warded off and kept at the borders on the human world by the use of magic, but they can never be destroyed.
A sub-category of "wanderers" are nightmare demons, which were believed to ca