As the Makahiki season comes to a close, we must ask ourselves: How are we going to move forward with intention?
Makahiki is a celebration of the bounty of the land and a commitment to peace. In ancient times during the Makahiki season, Hawaiians participated in spiritual cleansings, made offerings and outlawed war; they celebrated with song and hula, sports, and by being in community; finally, they would set adrift a canoe full of offerings as a gift to Lono. Today, Hawaiians continue to celebrate with ancient games and festivals. Like many ancient traditions, however, the spirit of Makahiki must find its place in a modern world. I am grateful to see that our ancestors’ rituals are coming alive today, in more ways than one.
Ten years ago, Aunty Mahi expressed a vision of Hawaiians marching together with shining torches around the island of Maui.
They would start in Lahaina, she told us, and the march would signify the beginning of Hawaiians coming together. In 2009, Aunty’s vision came to life, and Hawaiians gathered at Moku’ula to march for enlightenment and unity in a torch-lit journey. The 193-mile Ka’apuni brought hundreds of native Hawaiians together six years ago, and this week, Hawaiians are coming together to march once again.As they make their way around the island, carrying torches and the weight of their ancestors, welcomed by ohana from each of Maui’s twelve moku, marchers are lighting the way for a brighter future.Ke’eaumoku Kapu of Kaua’ula Valley, west Maui taro farmer, cultural advocate and founder of the Ka’apuni in 2009, announced that by marching together, organizers aim to achieve unity amongst one another, amongst the moku and all the people within them.As torchbearers continue their journey, stops along the way prove to be unifying and enlightening as intended. Day 2 of the march, walkers lent a visit to Kupuhua—a heiau very dear to us here at Ho’omana Spa Maui. Twice a year, our lomi lomi students journey to Kupuhua Heiau in Honolua Valley to care take the land. We are warmed to learn that the marchers’ visit to Kupuhua, wherein they helped clear the land, was also rich with conversation. Their presence and participation led to discussions about regular upkeep of this sacred space, and because of this, John and Josephine Carty, keepers of the temple, have decided to begin taking steps toward opening up the land to the public.Adapting to modern times is a challenge for every indigenous culture, but one that presents not only hardship but also great possibilities. As we move forward each day, we are empowered to move with mindfulness and intention for the kind of world we are creating. These bearers of light are moving forward with a great intention of unity. It is not the role of Hawaiians to live in the past, nor should we aspire to grow without our roots. Moving forward with intention means gathering the wisdom of our ancestors and bringing it into a world that is ever evolving and yet evermore defined by the richness of our past.How are you going to move forward with intention? Share your ideas and, like the torches carried around the island, they will light the way for a brighter future.
What do you get when you combine the richness of the past with the possibilities of the future?
What flourishes when you put together the force of Hawaiian ancestral wisdom and the outlook of a better world? For us, this blend is nothing short of magic. Overwhelming in its power and comforting in its roots, this blend of knowledge from the past and goals for the future is just the kind of mixture that our Lomi Ohana was immersed in this past weekend in Moloka’i.Our generous hosts Maile and Hanohano Naehu welcomed us at their cherished Keawanui Fishpond. Along with our team of lomi specialists, we were blessed to bring with us Kumu Mike Kumukauoha Lee, who shared his mana’o with the fishpond community. In the few days we spent at Keawanui, between lomi lomi sessions and big ohana meals, we witnessed a beautiful harmony take place—that between past and future, between wisdom and action.Kumu Mike Lee has dedicated his life to Hawaiian cultural practice, to sharing his knowledge about Hawaiian constellations and star systems, to spreading ancestral wisdom and the idea that we can use this knowledge to bring sustainable practices back into modern society. He believes that ancient Hawaiians discovered great things about the world and the stars, and that this wisdom can solve some of our biggest environmental issues today, if only we let it.
“Our future looks more like our past than our present.” These are the words of Hanohano, ‘aina warrior and passionate activist.
With little more than his internal compass, his connection to ancient Hawaiian culture, and faith, Hano and Maile have sustained one of the largest fishponds in the world, along with creating aquaculture education and research opportunities for the Moloka’i community and beyond. In the face of resistance and uncertainty, this family has manifested the kind of resurrection that Kumu Mike has dreamed of and spoken of for decades.
And there we were, our Lomi Ohana, in the midst of a harmonious uniting. Hanohano and Kumu Mike represent pillars of what it takes to move forward with intention and purpose. To create a sustainable and just future, we need both thought and action. We need wisdom and passion, guidance and drive, roots and branches.
As we gathered in a circle after sharing lomi with the Moloka’i community at the Makahiki games, filled with mana from all of the warmth and aloha exchanged throughout the day, we expressed to one another the power of unity and healing. What do you get when the past and future come together? In Moloka’i we saw sore backs transform to new bodies; ancient wisdom brought to light; searing passion creating opportunities—anger becoming motivation. We saw words become action and saw action find guidance, as one person’s dream found solace in another’s.In Moloka’i, people from all islands came together to participate in ancient ceremonies and play ancient games with aloha and pride. The Hawaiian language filled our ears, and love for the people and for the ‘aina filled our hearts.