In the Hawaiian culture the Kahunas were priest, doctors and masters of black magic among other functions. They practiced their rituals in sacred areas called Heiaus. The last remaining vestige  of the first Heiau constructed in ancient Hawaii can be seen at Bishop Museum.

The heiau Waha Ula , or as it was known in ancient times, Ahaʻula, is a luakine. This was reserved for the High Chief and his god of war Ku. Among the rituals performed would be that of human sacrifice.

Two orders of kahuna would be, first, Ku and next Lono. Ku was the god of war. Every service performed to Ku was elaborate and exacting. The priest who served Ku would have to have an excellent memory as he would be performing elaborate rituals and long involved prayers. One mistake or misspoken word could mean disaster.

Lono was the god of agriculture and peace among other things. His kahuna, though performing long prayers and rituals, did not have the heavy responsibility of the god of war.

Waha Ula was used right up until 1819. That year saw the ancient Kapu system (a system of laws) overthrown by Queen Kaahumanu.

Ku is on the left, Lono is in the middle and the god Kane (or another depiction of Ku as it has not been confirmed) is on the right. (you can check my earlier post concerning Ku in his wrappings http://wp.me/p1ai0c-2Z

There are three floors of displays as you enter the museum. Each floor is a realm. The third floor is called Wao Lani or The Realm of the Heavens. The second floor is Wao Kanaka, The Realm of  Man, and the first floor is Wai Kea, The realm of the Ocean. It is on this floor that you see above where you will see all of the gods including the heiau which is towards the front where the two people are standing

This replica of Waha Ula was as exact as the archeologist John Stokes could make in the year 1902. The actual stones from the heiau were put into this reproduction. He placed the kiʻi or images as near as he could figure out according to what pieces of carvings were left in place. The hale or house to the right might have been where images were stored when not needed.

Looking at images from the front.

This hale would have been where the priest had slept.

The photograph that is displayed with the exhibit shows the 1989 lava flow that had destroyed the visitors center at Waha Ula, but the heiau in front is still intact. The 1997 lava flow completely destroyed everything making the replica at the Bishop Museum the only connection to that ancient temple.

an aerial view of the heiau before destruction located in Puna, Hawaii

There is an excerpt of an old movie called Bird Of Paradise depicting what Hollywood thought a Kahuna should look like ( way off base) and who would be sacrificed (hmm) that will give you a laugh. (if You want to see a summary of the movie within ten minutes go to this site)

Hawaiian Winter, Toughing it out

It’s the season of Ku . Lono has had his time and now is fading away for the year. (Lono Arrives) As he leaves with just a few more months of winter left I look at all of the dark clouds and mango trees being blown in the winds. I mourn as the blossoms fall to the ground. It means there may not be a big crop this year.

As I drive Nico to school in the early morning, the clouds cover the sky and the sun just barely breaks through. Our winter, the time of Lono, barely seemed to be a winter at all. And though Lono no longer presides over the season, it seems that he has left some cold reminders as Ku ushers in what will soon be our summer. But not to quickly as, hopefully, we will have some rain to help with the very dry winter.

Now it may not seem like a winter to those of you who do not live in Hawaii. It is to us who are used to the temperatures that normally  hang in the high eighties with humidity that can get to be  brow wiping higher . As I sit here in my tee-shirt and jeans my feet are cold. I’m wearing a sweater and drinking a very hot cup of coffee trying to warm up. My feet are cold because I don’t have slippers.

Here in Hawaii you don’t wear shoes in the house. It is part of the Hawaiian custom. My slippers were, well, getting too slippery so they went the way of the trash can.

Our winter has become my favorite time of the year though. The colors become more intense in the sky and rainbows are in abundance. And the snow! well actually it’s the shower trees. The winter winds blow the flowers from the tree looking to me like tufts of snow. But of course you don’t need a snow plow, salt to keep the roads ice-free or mounds of clothes when the thermometer drops to the single digits. You just have to stop and smell the flowers.

I had to pull over and take out my trusty camera to capture the beauty of this winter day.

Yellow Shower Tree

The flowers, like snow, lay on the ground

During the evening I drove over to the other side of the island. I took the the H-3 Highway. If you ever get to Hawaii, you must, I can’t emphasis this enough, take a drive through the H3. The mountains cut like diamonds from the volcano’s that once erupted on this island are covered with green that often looks like velvet. Palms, rubber trees, mangoes and every form of ground coverseems to spring up as you drive from one side of the island to the other.

As I pulled over to the scenic point that was at the end of the highway it was with much disappointment. It was still winter after all and the hoped for sunset was nowhere to be photographed. But, after all, this is a blog about Hawaiian Winter. No sun straining through the clouds, just gray mass shrouding the mountains and darkening the sea.

So as this boat sails off into the clouds I wish you hot chocolate and snugly blankets. Unless you live in Hawaii and if you do then maybe I will see you at the beach tomorrow! Hey somebody has to live here.

Hawaiian Rainbows

It’s winter and the temperatures have dropped. Here in Hawaii, despite what many think, it can get pretty cold. Witness the snow on Mauna Kea.

This time of year also means that the weather is wet and for the ancient Hawaiians it meant work came to a stop and the time of Lono began. If you would like to read about that I posted it in a previous blog on the Rise of Pleiades and Lono

But for me it means rainbows. I am almost guaranteed a rainbow where ever I go. I thought for those who are suffering in a much colder climate, grayer skies, and maybe sloshing through the snow you might enjoy seeing rainbows. Of course, I’m taking chances here, you just may get upset and never look at my blog again. Honestly, I’m not rubbing it in.

Rainbows are so beautiful against such vividly blue overcast skies that when I see them I am always reminded that life can be so beautiful and that something so exquisite is free for everyone to look at and maybe be inspired.

This is the field right up the street from my house and most evenings this is what I see

If I’m walking out my front door I see rainbows over the neighbor’s house

Taking Nico to school there are always rainbows over his classes.

On my way to coffee at Starbucks I’m struck by the red of the awnings and the truck sitting on the wet pavement in front of the Jack in the Box. All are under the arch of the rainbow

Even the evil creators of the Frankenseeds, Monsanto, have a rainbow ending in their fields. I guess you can say, with all the farmers Monsanto has sued for growing their seeds that flew into the poor farmers fields, indeed there is a pot of stolen gold.

And as many of you know I love to picnic in  Waikiki. I always arrive around 5:30 AM. I never know what is going to greet me. Be it a stunning purple and pink sunrise, or a beautiful rainbow.

And I am sure many of you have seen this my favorite rainbow of all. My son was under the umbrella. It had rained all morning and we weren’t sure what kind of picnic it would turn out to be when the rainbow came out followed by a bright, Hawaiian sun. A promise of a wonderful day.

The Pleiades Rises and Lono Arrives Update

Star Merope (23 Tau) in Pleiades (M45)

Image via Wikipedia

Ku on the left and the Akua Loa (representation of the god Lono) is on the right

Lono is the god of the winter season and Ku is the god of summer. Ku will now be draped as it is not his time.

The winds are beginning to blow and the rain is coming down and storms are on the horizon. The rain that falls gives life to the plants, herbs and medicinal plants.These particular plants are a part of the god Lono who, among his other responsibilities is the God of Medicine.  In the winter sky the constellation Pleiades  has risen. Many different events have come together marking the beginning of the winter or Hoʻoilo.

In the distance traveling clockwise around the island of Hawaii, a 16 foot pole with a strip of white Kapa cloth can be seen. As it gets closer the carving of a human head sits at the top of the pole and long strips of yellow  feathers hang on the sides. In the middle of the pole can be seen the kaʻupu (albatross) hanging. The Kapa cloth, pole and image is the representation of the god Lono or what is called The Akua Loa.

The entourage of priest approach each of the ahupuaʻa (land divisions) to collect the offerings. The farmers with their best crops, people offering the best of what they have made, all greet the Akua Loa.

Once all of the offerings have been collected and deemed worthy ,the Makahiki games will begin. The kapu has gone out. There are to be no wars, work, or fishing. All the crops will have been picked and only hand work such as finishing gourds for containers or fishnets etc. will be done by the fires in the hales (huts)

Late October or November were the months when this took place. Many a warrior participated in the games of the season to show off their abilities. The games were such that would suit the soldier and show what his worth was.

I know that living here in Hawaii and having lived in San Francisco for the first 20 years of my life, I would say their is only one season on the island of Oahu. Hot, or sunny. Then of course there is the rain but itʻs still hot. I guess I consider it winter when I have to sleep with a heavy blanket on my bed. I really consider it a cold night when I donʻt kick the blanket off before morning.

In this type of climate you can just about say “let the games begin” any time of year. But for us at Bishop Museum it is a special time when we see the god Ku covered and the Akua Loa appear. It is a special event that the docents wait for. The visitors will have plenty of questions and we will enjoy talking about this time in ancient Hawaiian history


The Albatross (Kaʻupu) hang from the top of the pole

My aunt asked me to update this blog for those of you who may have never been to Hawaii. Yes it does get very cold on these islands. We do have a winter. That’s if you live on the big island of Hawaii. In fact it snows and people go skiing on the mountain of Mauna Kea. This is where all of the worlds observatories are.

The temperatures can drop down in to the 40’s during the day on that mountain. I’ve been on the Big Island when it has been in the low 60’s. It just depends on which side of the island you are on because the temperatures are very diverse.