As you enter the grounds, you are embraced with a sense of deep reverence, and almost instinctively, you fall into a silent awe. This is a place of royalty, and it is also one of the most sacred spiritual sanctuaries in the islands.
Pu’uhonua O Honaunau is what is known as a Place of Refuge, and the area is divided into two starkly different sections by a great rock wall standing 8 feet tall and about 17 feet thick. One side of the wall was the home of the ali’i or chiefs, and the other was the sanctuary.
In Hawaii, the people lived under a strict set of laws, and there was only one punishment for breaking a law… death. However, if someone could reach the place of refuge before he was caught, the temple priests would accept him or her into the sanctuary and forgiveness was granted, allowing the person to return to normal life. It was also where women and children or the sick or weak could come for refuge during times of war.
There are several heiau or temples throughout the grounds, but the central feature is the Hale O Keawe heiau. Built in the 15th century and destroyed during a period of spiritual change throughout Hawaii, it has since been restored and the temple rites reestablished.
On one end of the temple, there are 7 carved wooden figure that are representations of aspects of the God Lono, God of the heavens, agriculture, medicine, and healing, to whom this temple is dedicated. In addition, there is a thatched hut structure that had housed the bones of 23 powerful chiefs. The bones contained the spiritual power of the chiefs and added to the mana, or spiritual power, of the place.
It is a wonderful place to pray, meditate, or connect spiritually, and it is a place of great significance to our lineage. The Kahuna Nui (High Priest) of this temple was Kahu Lanakila, my mentor and spiritually adopted father. It is the place where our Kumu Kaleolani was named, and the temple area is a place where I was privileged to participate in sacred ceremonies with Lanakila as I continued my studies with him.
Just beyond the sacred grounds is a special place where we perform healings and rituals as part of the advanced and master level trainings. It’s a beautiful tide pool surrounded by lava rock and open to the ocean on one side. For me personally, the tide pool is where I was given the blessings and dedicated as Kahu O Mana, and where I was named by Kaleolani. It is a place that holds a very special connection to the ocean as a teacher and guide, and whenever I can, I come here to meditate and renew my relationship to the ‘aumakua.
Most people attending the trainings feel a strong connection to the mana and spirit of Pu’uhonua o Honaunau, and it is a place I spend as much time as I can when I am here.
Tomorrow, we leave the Big Island for some vacation time on Kauai. We are going to start winding down the Share the Journey blog so we can invest our last few days into fully enjoying the island and our time with each other.
Ha’awi and I hope you enjoyed this sharing, and that you were able to get a small glimpse into the energy, wisdom, and experience of studying within our lineage, and the types of places we visit. The next Initial Level training is at the end of the month – October 27-30 (Thursday evening through Sunday). You can find details at www.kealakahiko.com. We hope you can join us at the training!
I Ke Kea Kahi (In the One Light),
~ Pono and Ha’awi