The na’au is the Hawaiian name for the energy center below the navel that carries our personal power and the wisdom that comes only with experience (pa’a). It is also where we experience our connection to the Earth. It is the development of this connection that must come first on one’s spiritual path. With our feet on the ground, we have the foundation to look to inspiration from the heavens without wavering. We are strong; we are rooted in our knowledge of who we truly are and where we came from.
Our training began today with an acknowledgement of this fundamental principal. We awoke at 4:00 a.m. and made our way to the end of the road on the east side of the island, at pristine and untouched Halawa Valley. The valley is where the first Polynesian voyagers landed to settle this island, and it is where Kumu Lawrence was born and raised and where he received his teachings from na kupuna (the elders) of his lineage. It is a gorgeous cleft between high cliffs with towering waterfalls at its heart, and lush jungle and river all the way down to the bottom. Here the valley meets the ocean with a gorgeous beach, which is where we began our day.
E ala e, ka la i ka hikina, i ka moana, ka moana hohonu
Pi’i ka lewa, ka lewa nu’u, i ka hikina, aia ka la.
E ALA E!!
We stood there in the dark wearing only pareos, with the dawn wind blowing hard into our faces, and we waited for over an hour for the first glimpse of the sun above the cliffs. This required patience and the knowing that we wait for the gods – for Ke Kumu, who reigns supreme over the tasks we are undertaking. When the sun rose, we voiced the oli (chant) written above, in greeting and reverence.
The next step was to purify ourselves for our work, so we walked into the ocean, submerging our bodies with the intention of cleansing. Afterwards, we sat down to partake of an awa ceremony for the purpose of acknowledging the presence and the importance of the ancestors. (Awa is a plant- based ceremonial drink.) We each drank a cup of awa ritually presented to us, and when we were done the remainder was poured into the earth to share with the ancestors. The entire ritual was done in silence, except for the pounding of the ocean and the sound of the wind blowing through the valley. Vital. Spiritual. Ancient. Profound…
Next, it was time to connect with ka ‘aina (the land). We went up the valley to Kumu Lawrence’s home, where he tends several taro patches. He talked story with us about the taro plant, explaining its place in the cosmology of the Hawaiian people, where taro is considered an ancestor and revered. It is said that once the taro disappears, so will the Hawaiian people. Lawrence has sworn that will not happen with his family. We were put to work in one of the loi’s (patch of taro). We pulled weeds and removed rocks and debris that threaten the nourishment of the taro plants. Taro is grown in several inches to a foot of water, so soon we were wet and muddy. Yet it was an empowering process. We were working in the way of the ancestors. A rhythm emerged – stoop, sweep with the hands, pull weeds, throw them on the banks – again and again. We worked in rows and the rich soil soon filled our fingernails and was splashed all over us. And ka ‘aina spoke to each of us what we needed to hear…
The morning ended with a shared meal. The others are napping before we regroup late this afternoon, but we drove out to find service so we could share this joyful experience with you!
~ Ha’awi and Pono