The Legend of Kalunamoo appeared in various forms and fragments but most substantially in The Shores of the Pacific Ocean by Sir Arthur Eddington published in London in 1894 (out of print). Eddington’s book was a compilation of stories, folktales, legends and accounts from Pacific Island natives but is now lost to history under mysterious circumstances. This legend is the introductory story of Tasu and the beginning of her great adventures of that time and of the people known as Moos.
Before the arrival of the present day people of South Australia it was populated by those who were known as the Moos. Moo was the native name for the sea that these people fished and for many it was the focal point of their lives. Dependent as they were on the sea they became known as Moos. The moos lived ordinary lives but they could not be called simple people. Their rituals and traditions were as rich and intricate as many other people of that time. Dress, language and perhaps different foods separate one from another, but cohesive groups of people, living in a community, share the same goals in life and by and large act in similar fashions. But the Moos did have a quirk that gave rise to strange tales and events. One of these tales became known as the Legend of Kalunamoo.
The Moos quirk was unique. They instinctively knew with strong certainty what was good for them. From early childhood to old age they could identify the right fruit to eat, the right fish to catch, the right path home or the right people to befriend. In this way they differed from others and lead them to do strange things. At least it seemed strange to others and certainly would seem strange to us today. For example, a Moo might come across an odd looking fruit. Perhaps it washed ashore from a nearby island or brought ashore by some people from a distant land. Without question the Moo may decide immediately that fruit was poisonous. If so, and upon proclaiming such a fact, without so much as sniffing the item, other Moos would agree and henceforth no similar fruit would ever pass the lips of any Moo. It wasn’t a matter of heresy if someone would try to eat the fruit, it just wasn’t though of.
At the foothills of the Southern Range and about a days walk from the moo in the town of Tak, lived a young girl named Tasu. Like all Moos she too determined with instant certainty what was good or bad. Tasu loved early morning walks in the foothills to explore the small gullies and glens that dotted the area. It was her way to break free of the daily routine of village life. It was on one of these walks, hikes to us city folk, that she came across a particularly beautiful canyon. It wasn’t really a canyon, as it was still only in the foothills but it was larger than the gullies formed by the summer downpours in that somewhat arid region.
The canyon was deep and had odd shaped twists, turns and overhangs. Tasu explored the beautiful and mysterious canyon but was soon afraid that she was lost in its labyrinth pathways. It so happened that on this particular day the sun, known as Ka, and the moon, known as Luna, were both visible in the sky. This happens for a few weeks each month and is not unusual. Clouds scurried overhead while low in the east Ka rose and in the west Luna was setting. As Tasu became hopelessly lost she came upon a spot in the valley where two beams of light, streaming in from two different directions, met. From the east between the twisting turning canyon walls came a narrow beam of sunlight. From the west, between equally twisting canyon walls came a narrow beam of moonlight and they met on her young face. Half her face was bathed in the early morning sunlight while the other half in the waning moonlight of the night. Clouds obscured the overhead sky, lit neither by sun, moon or stars.
The canyon walls blocked any view of the surrounding glen or the distant sights of the waking village of Tak. Deep in the earth, literally within the grasp of rock, sand, roots and the confining canyon walls, and in the light of Ka and Luna, the certainty Tasu always had of the way home evaporated. And yet, surrounded by all this, in the bowels of the earth, lost and confused, the light also illuminated a way forward. How strange this was, thought Tasu. Somehow it gave her the means to find a way out of the canyon.
Tasu, moved by these events, was forever changed. She hoped that all Moos could have the same experience. She was not aware that it was only possible when the sun and moon were in those exact positions in the heavens relative to the canyon to shine their beams of light to meet at the height of Tasu’s face. Of course, Tasu didn’t know this. The Moos had only rudimentary knowledge of the motions of the sun, moon and stars and not the detailed observations to recognize that this particular alignment happens once every 26,000 years. Tasu was determined, however, to share this good fortune with others.
Tasu explained to the people of Tak the events in the canyon and they fully agreed that the occurrence was something all Moos should experience although they didn’t understand exactly why. Moos combed the canyons trying to duplicate the experiences of Tasu but to no avail. Tasu herself never experienced the same event again but she never forgot that day in the canyon. From then on her life was full of mystery, adventure, love and joy. Strife and hardship were also part of it but she lived long enough to see the birth of her great grandchildren. She never gave up hope of experiencing that day in the canyon again despite having high adventures which, if the stories are half true, must have made that day in the canyon pale by comparison.
Many people besides Moos searched for the same experience. Having firmly attested to the goodness of this event they forever referred to it as Kalunamoo. The belief that the merging of opposites propelled Tasu through her adventurous life is shared by many
Our hope is that by naming this boat Kalunamoo it will also carry us to adventures both imagined and to those we cannot imagine.
Ka-luna-moo (Kä-lȏna-moo) n. 1. The name of a festive day celebrating the fortunes that can be achieved by embracing opposing viewpoints. 2. from lost South Seas folk tales embracing opposite ideas 3. Literally, sun moon and sea.