Being on Hawaii Island, land of my birth, is always healing and nurturing for me. Hawaii Island provides a profusion of Nature in all her grandeur: open space, sweet smelling flowers, abundant green foliage, and the healing waters of the Pacific. My extended ʻohana (family) also nurture and embrace me with life-giving hugs.
I attended a wonderful 50th high school reunion plus a hula conference in Hilo, Hawaii last month. Iʻm focusing on the hula conference for this newsletter. It was the fifth and final in the series of Ka ʻAha Hula o Halauaola (a gathering dedicated to learning, teaching, dancing and sharing of knowledge related to hula) created in 2001.
This was my first ever hula conference. Planners did an amazing job of putting excellent presenters together for workshops and events. I felt enriched on many levels.
Beginning In 2001, the conference has been held every four years - first on Hawaii Island, then Maui, Oahu, and Kauai in subsequent years. It returned to Hawaii Island for the fifth and final conference in this series in 2018. The focus was the epic saga of Hiʻiaka, Peleʻs youngest and most dear sister, and her journeys to the different islands to fetch Lohiauipo, Peleʻs dream lover. In the process Hiʻiaka meets many challenges and learns from them.
It seemed especially fitting because this year Pele, our Volcano goddess, has been extremely active and such an amazing sight to behold. We saw her from Pepeekeo, a distance of twenty plus miles! She was an enormous, awe-inspiring red glow of shooting magma filling the sky and flowing strongly to the sea.
"Pele" is synonymous with the magma of the Volcano. She is hot, 2,000+ Fahrenheit degrees, and flows fast! Fissure 8 has been pumping 26,000 gallons of magma per second! Pele burns everything up in her path. Her purpose is the creation of new land - over 260 acres have been added to Hawaii Island since the May 3rd eruption.
Hiʻiaka symbolizes regeneration. When this new land has cooled, Hiʻiaka will bring the forest back to life on the rich lava. Destruction + Creation = Regeneration.
A few days before the conference, I stayed with dear friends Ricia and Nick Shema and experienced Hiʻiakaʻs ancient handiwork in the lush uplands of Volcanoʻs rainforests. In the early morning, I awoke to a deep quiet, the kind of quiet I feel after a long meditation. The mist rolled in slowly, without a sound, hiding everything in soft whiteness. Then it slowly lifted exposing a panorama of beauty: graceful tree ferns, and the shimmering leaves of a few ʻolapa trees among the tall, thin ohia lehua trees.
There were hundreds of earthquakes a day though I noticed just a few. They were gentle, not jolting, just mildly rocking. Once Ricia let out a little whoop of delight when an earthquake shook her out of her focus on the computer. I felt like a flea on the back of a giant who was slowly awakening from a deep slumber. Being excited or scared were possible emotional responses. I chose to open to excitement.
In the uplands of Volcano, at 4,000 feet elevation, Haumea (Earth Mother) enveloped and nurtured me. Her beauty was everywhere: in the abundant greens of the forest, the melodic voices and flitting reds of the apapane (Hawaiian honeycreeper), the feel of the cool moisture-laden air against my skin, the quiet of the soft and resilient moss that we walked upon.
How do we reciprocate? We do so through our hana (work) on and for the land, through experience and maopopo (understanding) of our deep interrelationship with Nature from which we are not separate. And of course through our hula with its intention, clarity and aloha. There is no need for words.
June Kaililani Ryushin Tanoue
Kumu Hula and Sensei