For the 200th Daily Deity and our next mythological we have the story of Maui, the demigod trickster from Polynesian mythology.
This demigod easily has one of the greatest heroic resumes in mythology. The only other hero that surpasses him in accomplishments is Hercules, and actually, these two are a lot alike. But we'll get to that when we get further into Maui's story. For today, we're discussing how he came into the world.
Like most heroes, Maui's beginnings were rocky at best. His parents were the mortal queen, Taranga, and the Underworld spirit-god-guy, Makeatutara. Surprisingly, these two were actually married, which is a rather shocking concept for an actual married couple in mythology to have children. Maui wasn't their first child either. He had four older brothers, all of whom were strapping boys.
That wasn't the case when it came to Maui. Whether he was born ugly or, perhaps, born early Taranga was embarrassed by the look of him. Considering that his father was a god, it's understandable why Taranga was eager to get rid of her youngest child. When you live in the middle of the Pacific ocean, the easiest place to dispose of something would be to just toss it into the ocean and hope for the best. And that's precisely what happened in the case of Maui. Infant Maui was thrown into the sea and his mother hoped that he would just be forgotten.
Of course, if that happened then this story wouldn't exist.
Luckily for Maui, he was found by a couple oceanic spirits. They didn't find Maui's appearance to disgusting to adore, so they took care of him by bundling the baby in a nice seaweed wrap. These spirits knew that it was irresponsible for them to try and care for the child, so they went in search of Rangi (in some versions Tama Nui Te Ra). Rangi is the god of the sky, and he is also the (several greats) grandfather of Maui. If he knew this at the time is unclear, but Maui had Rangi to thank for surviving the early years of his life.
Though, it wasn't long before either Rangi or Maui or both decided that it was high time that he headed back to his mother. Maui wasn't that old when this decision was reached, at most he was around four. Despite his young age Maui had no fear. He left the sea and marched straight to the home of his mother. Once there, he is confronted with his four brothers: Māui-roto, Māui-waho, Māui-pae, and Māui-taha.
At first, they don't believe that he is their brother. Neither does Taranga and how Maui was able to gain their truth is unknown. Nevertheless, Maui is accepted back into the family. He never seems to hold a grudge against his mother, or his brothers even if they had no say in their mother's decision, and this is a trait that is not often seen in mythological heroes. Most of the time they seem to resent those who wrong them to the point that it causes the downfall of themselves.
The reason for this may be because of how, despite the rough start, Maui and his family functioned well. His mother and brothers integrated him into the daily dynamic without issue and Taranga went far beyond what most mortal mothers in mythology do. She may have been embarrassed by Maui when he was a baby, and whether he improved in looks or she was more accepting, Taranga decided that Maui ought to meet his father. Granted, this was after Maui sneaked after her day after day in an attempt to find out where she was going everyday.
Maui was ecstatic at the opportunity. Not to mention that he had no fear of journeying into the underworld to see his father. Once before his father, Maui showed off his tricks. At the time, the biggest trick he could do was transform himself into various birds, which is a very impressive trick. It is also a trait that is rarely shared among heroes of the world.
Magic, especially trickery, which is the term that is consistently used to describe Maui, is not something that most mortals deal with in mythology. The ones that do are usually women or the antagonist of the story. And nearly never are heroes the ones that use magic. Heroes are the ones that fight magic and the tricksters in order to triumph over the wrong in the world. Maui, on the other hand, seems to be capable of fighting fire with fire (though, we'll get to Maui and his connection to fire later on.) This only makes him more powerful and more capable hero.
At this time, Maui wasn't a hero, but he was powerful and his father wanted to reward his son for the skills he wielded. Makeatutara decided that Maui should be blessed, and by extension deified. However, during the ceremony, Makeatutara makes a mistake. A rather significant one it would seem because instead of making Maui immortal, he instead ensures that Maui shall always be mortal (or he turned Maui mortal) and therefore also ensured Maui's eventual death.
But that is a long way off, and Maui has far more to do with his life that does not involve worrying about his far away passing.