Kahikilani: Chapter Four (marriage)
When Kana and Makakauali’i Ho’ao (marry) the Akua rejoice. Altogether, many of the Gods and Goddesses along with their semi-divine brethren are present at this Heiau Wahi Pana (sacred spot) close to the ocean at Kalalau. Sole and mighty intelligences of Po (cosmos), the holy triad — Hikapoloa — are there: comprised of Kane, prime originator; Ku, the architect and builder, Lord of contrasts and multiplicity; fair (blond) Lono, executor and director of weather and the elements. United in will this day to support their brother, the sea-god and Lord of Milu (underworld): Kanaloa Kumulipo Ka-he’e-hauna-wela (the strong smelling octopus) and his devoted wife (and daughter) Akua-naha,1 Na-maka-o-ka-ha’i: a graceful, shimmering sea-goddess who dwells in a cave at the bottom of the ocean, and often plays in the waves (as she did this morning with her daughter/sister Kana).
Makua Kane (father) of the bride: Kanaloa — proud, tall, fetid, and oho hakeaka (he is bearded and — don’t be surprised — also blond: melemele) — and Makuahine (mother) of the bride — smooth, viridescent Na-maka-o-ka-ha’i, whose name is loved by the Haku (poets) as much for its gentle sound as for the pleasant images and sensations evoked.2 Together again this day: divine spouses, sacred father and mother. Many other deities of land, sea, and air are there, too, He Miki Ole (active) participants in the Ho’au ceremony, drinking ‘awa-iku (their principal food) and uiuia (sugar cane beer) brewed by votaries of Kanaloa. The Mana is very strong.
Honored Akua: aunts, uncles, cousins — Ohana. Ancient Haumea, Earth-mother, a primordial mate of dignified Wakea (whom, some whisper, is human — not Akua). Visiting from their home in the sky, Nu’umealani, both are there, silver-haired accomplices, resplendent. Along with Papa, the bronzed creatrix (Wakea’s first wife) they are surrounded by their ke iki (children), among them one of the aged Haloa twins. So, too, Ku’s consort, silent, fair, moon-faced Mahina-i-ka-malama, or simply Hina, in the company of her companion and daughter: shining Hinakua, progenitor of those yet to be born, bright, smiling, visible from afar — and enjoying herself.
And there: cruel, volcanic, blazing Pele — creator and destroyer — up from Halemau’uma’u far south near Kilauea; today (for once) quiescent, restrained somewhat by her father’s ‘awa, neither violent nor angry in honor of her half-sister’s and niece’s wedding. Then again: everyone keeps their distance from Pele — except stubborn old ‘Aila’au, the “wood eater,” Akua of fire. They hold hands — smoldering.
The guardian of the sea and Mana Kai (spirit of the ocean): Akua of chimera and mirages, Kauai’s own Limaloa stands close to the water’s edge, serene. Just outside, lightly striped Ku-hai-moana, the Mano-Akua (shark god), brother of Pele and spouse of tiger-shark goddess Ka’ahu-pahau, glide swiftly back and forth in the surging shallows: tips of their ashen fins piercing, knife-like, the surface of the Kai.
Ha’inakolo, goddess of Kapa makers and bird catchers (who retrieve the choicest royal yellow feathers from the elusive mamo) seated on the Pohaku (lava-boulders) with her half-sister, Ka-‘alae-nui-a-hina, the great ‘alae bird (mudhen), an akua of spells, incantations, and thaumaturgy; and their father, the capricious bird god Ku-huluhulu-manu. There with ‘Ai’ai, son of Ku’ula, Akua of the lawai’a (fishermen) is Hinahele, slippery goddess of lawai’a — the ‘ohua and ‘ia (fish) beholden to her. Off by himself, dark, stocky, pig-faced, the shaggy son of fair Lono (melemele like Kanaloa) yet striking: Kamapua’a, whose unrequited love for Pele drew him reluctantly, stubbornly to this festivity.
Benevolent Ma’iola: vivacious god of healing and life, hard to see exactly (is he a tree? some kind of wood?); but he’s here — everywhere, all-surrounding, sublime. Visiting from Maui’s Haleakala (high-mountain home of the rising sun), yet also indistinct and ethereal, the misty Lilinoe, younger sister of Poliahu (the tropical snow-goddess; not here today — residing high on the slopes of frozen Mauna Kea — the tallest volcano in the islands) accompanies Makani-ke-oe, turbulent god of winds, invoked today for his strong Hana Aloha (love magic). And most blessed Papahanaumoku, Akua of Nature (there is no single word for its multiplicities) and Wao Nahele (sacred forest) and Wao Akua (wilderness). Her wild spirit is that of the life-giving, loving, forgiving Honua;omnipresent and omniscient, she nurtures life. You sense (feel) these Akua more than see them.
Also in attendance: Haulili, eloquent, precise, and clear: Akua of speech and language, he who points, identifies, and gives things their name, one of Kauai’s favorites; Lie, lofty goddess of the Mauka (mountains) and Wao Nahele (like her twin sister Papahanaumoku), braider of the most beautiful ohia-blossom leis (flowered garlands) adorning both bride and groom — and their parents — this day; and Kaula, the trickster, with his brother, the wily, verdant, vegetable-like ‘Opelu-nui-kau-ha’alilo, Akua of healing plants and, among other things, thievery. He always finds and gets what he wants.
Muscular, lithe, playful Pa’ani, still wet and stoked from a morning of he’e nalu (surf-riding) with Limaloa, beams next to his striking companion: vibrant, ravishing, fearsome, sliver-raven-tressed Uli, unforgiving goddess of ‘ana ‘ana (sorcery) — at once feared and beloved by the Kilo (sorcerers & readers of omens), she is also known to restore life and convey health to all. As today she does — everyone, everything vital and vibrant.
The eel-fish akua Niuloahiki stands tall and silent, like a Niu (coconut) tree aside nubile, voluptuous and ample-bosomed Nu’akea, Akua of nursing mothers everywhere. Hui ‘ia (joined together) in Hiwahiwa (esteemed celebration), the Akua convene near the pristine shoreline of Kalalau to witness Kana and Makakauali’i Ho’au. Above it all: Ka-ono-hi’o-ka-La (the eyeball of the sun) blazes. It’s quite a party.
§ § §
Pahu (drum) beat deep and steady as the muses sing the epithalamium.3 Righteous Laka (akua of dance & love) leads the sacred Hula Ku’i Kauai (dance prayer for the verdant, northernmost isle) — consisting of hundreds of beautiful Wahine and Kane ‘olapa (dancers), among them the Akua Hi’iaka (expert hula dancer, healer, and guardian), dazzling, naked, and proud.
Along with the blessings of Makakauali’i’s stoic parents — the patrician blue-blood Alapa’i-nui Pilikaeae-Kuaiwa,4 probity incarnate, and regal, Kupua Makuahine Ekena Paumakua5 — attended by presiding Kahuna Nui, supreme high-priests Pa’ao and Pili, each and every one of the lesser Ali’i and Maka’ainana (behold the polity of the entire ahupua’a) exult in this divine matrimony. The wild Kaula (female prophets that roam & dwell high in the Mauka Wao Nahele of Na Pali) herald the coupling as the Ao (dawn) of a new era in Kalalau.
The ‘Aumakua — deified ancestral spirits and protectors that assume myriad forms of natural flora and fauna — delight in the nuptials, as well. Soaring overhead, the shrewd, snowy-white, and distant pueo (owl) and gallant, vermilion, eager ‘io (hawk); the dragon-like mo’o (lizard), grunting pua’a (pig), barking ‘ilio (dog), and muroid ‘iole (rat) — each and all scurry about the festivity here and there; the ‘loi and kalo flourishing in never-failing growth amidst scores of terraced gardens throughout the valley; the regal pinao (dragonfly) in erratic, playful flight; the waddling, hoary, blaring nene goose; the almighty kohala (whale), placid honu (sea turtle), la’a(sacred) and mahi (energetic & strong) ahi (tuna), ‘au (swordfish), opelu (mackeral), and the menacing mano (tiger shark) swimming deep in the ocean — these are ‘aumakua — so, too, the trees, rocks, and forces of nature: all divine, sacrosanct.
These natural, related extensions of both Ohana and Ahupua’a Kalalau are invoked and relied upon to provide support, guidance, and assistance. They watch over everything, everyone, everywhere. A part of everyday life — and great Ho’olaulea (celebrations) like this — the ‘Aumakua are loved, powerful, wise, revered and respected just like Ohana precisely because they are Ohana.
Even the mysterious, magical Menehune, enterprising, obliging “little people,” are there: near the boundaries of the Heiau (which they helped to build), but in attendance nonetheless.6 These diminutive, pug-faced trolls, led by their dwarfish-stout king — Mohikia — wouldn’t miss a party like this one. They know well enough that the poi (cooked & pounded lo’i) and ‘opae (shrimp) served today would be the most delicious in all Hawaii Nei. The ‘ia and ‘ohua (fish) jump and froth the kai with excited amusement at their presence. The jolly menehune (hundreds of them) are welcome Malihini Kipa (guests).
The pounding of Pahu ceases. The Hula stops. Silence. Kane — Kane-huna-moku, Kane the water of life, Kane who creates, Kane of thunder, Kane who shakes and moves the Earth, Kane who lives and moves in the bodies of men and women, Kane of a thousand names — steps forth. Kane. Everyone is still, quiet, attentive to him. Greatest Akua of them all — dark, curly-haired, thick-lipped Kane — provider of sunlight, wai (fresh water), of the life-force itself (after all he created the first kane [man] & wahine [woman] — even before lo’i), rules over procreation and fertility. He laughs! The “giver of life” there to sanctify the marriage of his brother’s and best friend’s daughter’s union with a mortal. Kane proclaims thus:
Aloha ka Po’e! Aloha!
Aloha Keali’i Kana!
U’a kapu ke ola na Kane!
(“Life is sacred to Kane!”)
The marriage is consecrated to create something greater still. Kane declares that Makakauali’i and Kana should “build beyond yourselves — you are creators, too!” He goes on:
You two must build beyond yourselves. First, you should
be built yourself — square-built, strong in body and soul!
‘Uhane — But I have seen to that!
You must propagate yourselves not only forward, but
upward! May the garden of your marriage help you to create a
higher body! Kino! Ho’okino!
Marriage: that I call the Kauoha (will) of two to create the one who
is more than those who created it. Mana’o Ho’o Ihi’ihi!
Reverence before one another, as before willers of such a will
— that I call this marriage! Aloha! Aloha Nui!
Bid by Kane: Makakauali’i and Kana, bride and bridegroom, come close together, face to face, noses touching, and exchange Ha (breath). They embrace. Akua rejoice and hail the Ho’ao! The Po’e (people) — Ali’i, Kahuna, Maka’ainana, and Menehune alike — roar with adoring approval: Aloha! Profuse amounts of ‘awa-iku and uiuia flow in abundance. The Pahu and Hula resume immediately: sound and movement; everything in organic, dynamic flux. Yet before the ‘aha’aina lu’au (feast) begins, makana (gifts) are presented to those pledged in marriage.7
Among the gifts bestowed is a long, narrow, and extremely elegant Olo Papa He’e Nalu (surf board) made of darkest Koa wood — the largest, strongest, and most valuable of native Hawaiian trees. This, the finest, hand-crafted precision surf-riding vehicle in all of Polynesia: 16 feet in length, pahe’e (slippery smooth), ‘ele ‘ele (deep black — the color of their eyes), and polished with kukui nut oil. Shaped by divine Pa’ani himself — Akua of sport, recreation, and he’e nalu (surfing). Both Kana and Makakauali’i are avid and renowned surfers; the best in Kalalau. Pa’ani chants a special blessing: A Pule Ho’onalu (a prayer to summon the waves) when he gives them this Makana Ho’ao. Auspice of good things to come, the marriage is a divine success!
To be continued . . .
As related, everything is connected by Mana — even and especially amongst the Akua and Ali’i. The concentrated potency of Mana is preserved and transferred most effectively within the same lines of descent. Thus, brother and sister; father and daughter; mother and son; cousins, aunts and uncles, and so forth commonly bred together and married, a custom true of both Akua and Ali’i. The most sacred alliance is the Akua-niaupio or Ali’i-niaupio (off-spring of brother and sister); next, in descending order, the Akua-pio or Ali’i pio (off-spring of uncle and niece); next, Akua-naha or Ali’i-naha(off-spring of father and daughter), which is the case here re: Kanaloa and Na-maka-o-ka-ha’i; next, and rather more ubiquitous, the Akua-wohi or Ali’i wohi (off-spring of any of the foregoing with another divine or chiefly pedigree); and, finally, Lo-Akua or Lo-Ali’i (Akua or Ali’i of some certain, identifiable — via genealogy — divine or royal descent).
A reason why the Haku call her: “wave-swift, the great swimmer, bringer of fulfillment and good counsel, she of good gifts.”
A mele celebrating marriage.
Cf. Aeacus — father of Peleus.
Cf. Endeïs — mother of Peleus.
Legends of the Menehune abound in Hawaiian history and mythology, although they are best remembered and otherwise closely associated with Kauai. Examples of their extraordinary stonework can be found all over the garden isle, such as at the loko i’a (fishpond) at Lihue and the ‘auwai Kika-a-Ola (irrigation ditch) near Waimea — its smooth-shaped, wisely-placed pohaku (lava rocks) can still be seen to this day. Indeed, from ancient times until today, Menehune are thought to supervise all construction sites throughout the Hawaiian archipelago.
Also given, amongst the hundreds of makana, is a beautiful looking sled, a kepie: gift of Lie — goddess of mountains and the Wao Akua (wilderness). This fine hewed sledge, almost 20 feet long and constructed of the most intricate and sturdy wood-work, is necessary for the noble sport of Holua — or mountain sliding — whereupon such splendid-craft the Ali’i (and some Akua) ascend the highest Mauka peaks and then slide down stone-bordered, grass-covered courses (made by Menehune) at dangerous, breath-taking speeds toward the ocean. Frequently this pa’ani (sport or contest) is a way for rival Ali’i princes to test (and prove) their Mana in such active, daring Manawale’a (leisure time).