Culture Education Environment featured — 10 February 2020

Lessons of Aloha and Connection With our Ancestors
When we look out at the vast reaches of space, our Planet Earth is indeed an island of life floating in an endless sea of stars. It is unlike anywhere else in the universe. It is so important in this modern time for us to have stories that connect us while stoking within us a sense of magic and wonder. As people everywhere begin to recognize the path our ancestors took to lead us to this day, a global narrative is emerging. As those awakened to this odyssey begin embodying the perennial wisdom of their ancestors, others are awakening to this journey of discovery. When you continue down this path you will discover that a piece of your own ancestry is woven into this unfolding global narrative. The people of Hawai’i have a very special piece to this story that gives a greater context to our significant place in history right now.

“We need myths that will identify the individual not with his local group but with the planet.” ― Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth

A traditional double-hulled Hawaiian voyaging canoe sales towards a newly formed island
photo courtesy: Paaponomilolii

At the End of the Circle Comes a New Beginning: Hōkūle’a is the story of a modern epic voyage that retraces humanity’s invisible steps across the ocean and  throughout history to bring the healing wisdom of aloha, love, and sustainability. This message of unity is shared through a traditional double-hulled Hawaiian voyaging canoe and her crew using only traditional navigation techniques as they sail the oceans of the world. The story is alive and you are part of it. This is where the ancient meets the future, where endings find new beginnings, and the mythic becomes reality.

The story of Hōkūle’a comes from the Hawaiian Islands but it belongs to the whole world, that’s why its’ significance has been recognised by leaders like Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, Barack Obama, Richard Branson, and others. When we consider human migrations across the planet over millennia, these islands are some of the last places discovered. Far away from Africa where archaeologists believe humans first originated, these islands also represent some of the newest, most recently created land on Mother Earth. (Big Island of Hawaii is still growing every year as hot lava pours from active volcanic vents.)

Jeremiah Taleni, right, gives a Shaka, a Hawaiian greeting gesture, as he shares a laugh with the Dalai Lama photo courtesy of Pillars of Peace Hawaii via AP

Historically, migrations were initiated by the desire to explore but also forced by drought, unsustainable agricultural practices that brought famine, conquests, and war that pushed people off of their homeland. As science has shown us, our memories have been passed through our DNA for many lifetimes. That means that every one of us has a piece of the collective memory of our ancestors who were oppressed as well as our ancestors who were the oppressor.  We all have this shared history… the good, the bad, and the ugly right in our blood. This tumultuous history made us strong, it made us survivors, but it is not a history that we need to repeat anymore. That’s why the Hōkūle’a message of aloha is so important as we look at our history and into our future.

Hokulea in Capetown South Africa.
Photo: copyright and courtesy of Kamehameha Schools Kapālama and Hālau Kū Māna Charter School

Unanswered Questions: The discovery of this remote island chain in the Pacific is shrouded in unanswered questions. How did the original Hawaiians find it? What made them know this land was here? Some say that shamanic dreams or intelligent sea creatures like dolphins, whales, and sharks (Kamohoali’i) guided early navigators to this place surrounded by a thousand miles of ocean. Sailing a thousand miles to find a small string of islands is as technologically profound for ancient mariners as it is for modern astronauts to land on the moon.

These are the children of the living breath (Aloha)…They go out to the deep ocean to find out what the original song was… We’re not lost. We’re going home.– Sam Kaai, a true son of Maui and noted scholar of Hawaiian cultural practices.

Island lifestyle in Hawai’i is filled with potent wisdom that is universal though it has been forgotten in many places around the world. Living on an island teaches one that resources are finite, and that we can’t run too far from what we create (good or bad). Hōkūle’a invites us to re-awaken, remember, and live consciously as we begin to recognise Planet Earth as an island of life floating through a vast galaxy of stars.

According to legend, the 16th navigator Paka’a could not only predict the wind and weather, he could actually control them with a wind gourd bequeathed to him by his kupunawahine La’amaomao, the wind goddess, whose name ‘Distant Sacredness’ suggests the divine breath which emerges from holes in the far horizon.– Dennis Kawaharada, No NāMamo

A view of the ocean across newly hardened lava

It’s in the Stars: Hōkūle’a and her sister Hikianalia are full scale replicas of a waʻa kaulua (polynesian double hulled canoes) operated by crews that only uses traditional indigenous technology (no GPS, no Google Maps) to navigate long distances. By studying the wave patterns, behaviour of dolphins and other fish, one can find their way across vast distances in the oceans. By noticing where stars rise and set along the horizon one is able to navigate the Star Path to their destination. The Mālama Honua journey saw Hōkūleʻa travel 42,000 nautical miles in 3 years to visit 150 ports in over 20 countries. The theme of the journey was Lei Kaʻapuni Honua, which means, “A Lei Around The World”. This lei of aloha and love symbolically connects all people throughout the world and across the millennia as we enter a new chapter of life on earth.

Our Hawaiian voyaging canoes, Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia, are on a five year, 60,000 nautical mile voyage to discover how local communities around the world are navigating toward a sustainable future. Mālama Honua, caring for our island earth, is the guiding value of our voyage and it is inspiring learners of all ages to join us as we discover stories of hope from cultures around the globe. – www.hokulea.com

A Journey of the Heart:

Aloha is a lifestyle that is closely connected to nature with a great love for the land and it’s inhabitants. Bill Mollison, an influential visionary in the global permaculture and sustainability movement, says that Hawaiians are some of the most prolific gardeners in the world. 1,700 years ago the first Hawaiians brought 25 plants known as canoe plants, to grow on these volcanic islands that originally had no vegetation.

We live in times of epic proportion facing environmental issues for the first time as a global community. Love, kindness, and compassion are central to any response we will take in order to heal our planet as well as ourselves. Though the journey ahead may look impossible at times, we can draw from the strength and wisdom of our ancestors to create a truly beautiful future for all.

We can draw from the strength and wisdom of our ancestors to create a truly beautiful future for all

Voyage as a Way of Life: This is a real-life story rich with metaphors that are relevant to all of us as our global heritage awakens. The best part is that you can follow along, participate, and learn with the crew about diverse cultures, and sustainable practices to make a better world. If you have kids or grandkids, you can explore canoe to classroom or a thorough list of resources for anyone who wants to share this journey of learning with their loved ones. There are plenty of videos, photos, and blog entries on their website, TwitterInstagram, and Facebook where you can read blog entries and see pictures from crew members. These historical and contemporary cultural stories are full of hope and inspiration.

Mālama Honua (caring for our Island Earth) is becoming a Global Movement: The Hōkūle’a Crew has a pledge that they share with everyone they cross paths with which forms a great foundation for creating a beautiful future, together on this planet.

I recognise that Earth is a blue planet. Our ocean is the cornerstone of life, and our planet’s life-support system.
No matter where on Island Earth I live, the ocean produces the air I breathe and helps to regulate the climate.
I recognise that our ocean and Island Earth is changing because of the habits and choices of human beings.
I recognise that with supporters like me, and the community I reach out to around me, the future of our oceans and our Island Earth can improve.
The difference will start with me and spread to others. I pledge to support our oceans and Island Earth, and inspire people of all ages to do the same. – One Ocean, One Island Earth Pledge

Take some time to breathe in the Aloha knowing that we all come from a long lineage of survivors and we all share the same breath of life. Gaze at the stars and imagine just how beautiful it is to be in the middle of this great and mysterious cosmic ocean. It is a blessing beyond measure and with this blessing comes a great responsibility to respect all of life.

We have a story for our times that is made of all the stories of our past and it is rising like a Phoenix to bring a great change across the land and sea. Though we are diverse and we have been through a lot collectively as a people, we share one planet and must learn to live together as one family. The journey of Hōkūle’a represents a very special moment for all of us, the end of a circle always brings new beginnings. Our ancestors are with us and this is our moment to make all of them proud as we navigate towards a beautiful future!

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About Author

Jacob blogs for Huffington Post and others in addition to Culture Collective. He specializes in social media, and cross-platform (or trans-media) content and campaigns. Meditation, playing piano, exploring nature, seeing live music, and going to Hopi Dances are some of his passions. As a co-founder of unify.org, Jacob lives for community and believes that we are all interconnected with our own special gift to offer the world.

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