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Kahikilani: Chapter Three (family)
Long ago came Lo’i (taro), first-born son to Wakea (Mother Earth) and Papa (Father Sky). But the child was deformed (without arms or legs), stillborn: make (dead). The bereaved parents buried (or, one could, say: planted) the child’s body in the ‘aina. Like a root, there sprouted a hearty, verdant, leafy plant — Lo’i (taro). There was Ola (life) — that which lives and gives life. The mourning couple was thrilled! Immediately they had more children: twins — both boys, both named Haloa, one a Kalo plant (another form of taro, the dry kind), the other a Kanaka (human), ancestor to all Hawaiian people.
Lo’i is essential to life and history in Hawaii. It forms the foundation staple of their culture and diet. Lo’i provides sustenance, nourishment, health, strength. And because of this lineage, all Hawaiians are linked (by koko —blood —, ‘aina, wai, & mana) to the Lo’i. Indeed, the Hawaiian word ohana (family, including all relatives) derives from the ‘oha, the primordial Lo’i shoot.
Thus, the people — Ali’i, Kahuna, Maka’ainana — look upon Ao (world) as one Ohana — however intricate and complex its composition — with a steady gaze that does not see — or feel — any part of it as separate or cut off from the rest, but always as an essential piece in a living whole: Noho’ana. Theirs is an organic perspective because it sees — and feels — individual things as elements within vital, holistic totality. This primal, collective, interconnected, inexorable sense of all things as one is Hawaiian. Attuned to nature, they understand that the mature, original, and organic structure of life is closely connected with their instinct to enhance every sphere and aspect of life (all life — not just human) in thought, prayer, speech, and action, especially including all art and recreation.
The characteristic Hawaiian attitude is first and foremost aesthetic, attended by an overwhelming sense of Ho’omaika’i (gratitude). They see — and feel — beauty everywhere. The world is beautiful! Life is beautiful! Makana ka Ho’i (what a gift!) Makana ka Aloha! from the Akua. And for that they are deeply grateful. “Mahalo!” the Hawaiian exclaims each and every day for each and every thing. Sight and sensation blend with Mana’o(intellect) and Mana in physical and aesthetic acts; accordingly, the Hawaiians strive daily to cultivate themselves in the image of natural wonder and majesty. They will Ola (life). They will Olakino (health and things necessary for life) with praise and gratitude for Mauli-ola (Akua of health).
Theirs is a reverent power that seeks to overflow. “Aloha!” “Mahalo!” the Hawaiian says to all that makes life possible. Such willing and striving, love and thanks, belong to the essence of what lives. Just as the ‘oha of the Lo’i teaches: this primordial fact is a basic organic function.
The greatest work of art they have is displayed in the formation and enhancement of the rarest and most valuable exemplars of human possibility among them, thereby they demonstrate their Ho’omaika’i. The one possessed of great Mana reveres him and her self — indeed the Ali’i ought to love and have faith in themselves since they must always act nobly as a complement to nature in its most affirmative aspects: pride, joy, health, love of the sexes, enmity and war, reverence, beautiful gestures, manners, and a pathos of distance. Behold a strong will, a discipline of high spirituality, the will to power, and gratitude toward the Honua (Earth) and Ola (life). Everything that is over-full, fruitful, and desires to bestow; that replenishes and gilds and immortalizes and deifies life — the whole of transfiguring virtues, everything that declares good and affirms word and deed: that is Ali’i.1 They chant:
Aloha ka aina! Aloha ke kai! Malama Pono (care for what is the
best) demands sacrifice of self in favor of the best of kanaka
(humankind); the lahui (species) can survive only through a love
of humanity that demands self-sacrifice for the sake of the highest
as the evolution of ho’oana (design) from manawa (chance). Show
your strength to create beyond — to create what is beautiful! Aloha!
This nature-complementing aesthetic is the essential, defining characteristic of their high, healthy culture, for the Ali’i instinctively experience themselves as the meaning and justification of nature.2 The rest (maka’ainana) submit to this way of things — for it is the way of nature — because they understand and experience themselves as the foundation and scaffolding upon which the choice type of being is able to raise itself to its higher tasks, toward a heightened state of existence at the crown of cultural struggle: a living, embodied ideal that speaks of the meaning of Honua.3
§ § §
Kahikilani’s mother is Keali’i Kana: a divinity of the ocean. A sea nymph, she is the most favored daughter of powerful, volatile, pungent Kanaloa — otherwise known as Milu — the great he’e (octopus): Akua ke Kai and lord of the underworld. Kana, as she is called, a ravishing sea goddess; her mighty father: God of the Ocean. They are immortal, although not omnipotent. They, too, abide the Kapu. Indeed, she embodies Kapu. She is Kapu.
Kana comes from the Kai (salt-sea water) and is made of it. Her eyes: ‘ele ‘ele — deep black as midnight. Moreover, she has the Kupua power of Kinolau, in that Kana can assume the form of many other bodies and disguises: nalu (wave), i’a (fish), la’au (tree), ‘iwa (frigate bird), mano (tiger shark), limu (seaweed), makani (wind), pohaku (stone), hu’a (foam), uila (lightening), and more . . . As wahine (woman in human form), separate and distinct in exotic, stunning, perfect yet imperfect shape, Kana enjoys ola (life) more . . . She swims, dives, rides, loves, flies, and plays in and upon the ocean. Kana is altogether complete: completely happy and confident as human (for the most part), in love with a mortal man.
The father: Makakauali’i. Courageous Ali’i chief, Moi and sovereign ruler of Kalalau, he is a warrior, hunter, fisherman, diver, and daring, graceful wave-rider — the best in Kalalau. Royal descendent of Ku, war god and Akua of fishing, forests, rain, canoes, and many forms of sorcery: Kuka’ilimoku (“Ku the snatcher of the land”) closely linked with Hina (or Mahina-i-ka-malama) — great ancestral goddess of the Moon who presides over all female divinities; Akua of corals and other spiny creatures of the sea. (Hina’opuhala-ko’a: all corals are female.)
Makakauali’i is also descended from Pa’ao — a demigod Kahuna, Ali’i Akua (God King), and great navigator from Kahiki Nui (Tahiti) who sailed in great double-hulled Wa’a (voyaging canoes) to the Hawaiian archipelago many centuries before and built sacred Heiau throughout the islands. Mo’olelo (mythology) teaches that Pa’ao introduced Mohai Ola Kanaka (human sacrifice as an offering to Akua), Pa Pohaku Heiau (walled temples), Kihei ‘ahu ‘kipuka koloka ‘ahu’ula (red-feather capes) as a sign of rank, and the strictest forms, expression, and enforcement of the Kapu. Makakauali’i’s divine, distant forbears can be traced back to Haloa and the beginning of time itself: Kumuhonua in the Kumulipo (the mele — chant — of the origin of all creation).
Makakauali’i father’s fathers: all fearsome, heroic, champion Ali’i chiefs; all make (dead) now. Like them, he is mortal. With ‘ele ‘ele eyes comparable to his betrothed, this glowing, vigorous Moi (Chief) of Kalalau wants for nothing. Nowhere else on Honua but here in Kalalau among his people and with his ohana does Makakauali’i desire to exist.
To be continued . . .
Cf. Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics § 1169a, re: megalopsuchia (greatness of soul).
This attitude, a personal ethic of honor and pride, is anything but egotistical however. J.J. Chambliss elucidates the point here with a view to the archaic Greeks: “This love of self . . . is not the love of ego but of the Self [ousia = substance or existence], the Absolute Beauty, the Perfect Valor, that the hero longs to express in one Great Deed that will utterly astonish the great envious company of his equals” (Nobility, Tragedy, & Naturalism: Education in Ancient Greece, 1971, p. 35).
Hawaiian Noe’au (wisdom) regarding the fundamental, comprehensive relationship of human beings to nature reveals a perspective at once cosmic, evolutionary, and enlightened, such that combines philosophy, religion, and art — and enlarges or otherwise expands the sense of self. Thus, we gain deeper insight into how and in what way Noho’ana grounds a deep ecology that affirms, emulates, protects, and enhances natural systems: an ecology of body, culture and Earth in ecocentric euphony.