Monday, March 14, 2011

Feel the heartbeart of the Culture ... Personal Retreats during the 'Ole Cycle of Mahina

The practice of Counting on the Moon

What is an 'Ole Cycle?

'Ole is the Hawaiian word, pronounced OH-LAY with the emphasis on the OH, meaning 'without or empty.' In the context of this article 'Ole Cycle' refers to the the 'empty cycles' of the moon's near thirty-day appearance and relationship with planet Earth. We see the moon appear smaller or larger in the sky because of her reflection of light from the Sun. Ancient peoples, as are the Kanaka Maoli, my ancestors the Hawaiians, have long been observant and in tune with the Moon, Mahina, and her affect on life on Earth and beings living on Earth. Mahina affects the tides, Mahina affects the tide and water both on our planet and in our bodies. Fisher folk and farmers tend to their lives with awareness of Mahina.

The 'Ole Cycle(s) are the non-productive times of planting and fishing times when the seas, and the soil are left to replenish and as well, the kanaka rests from new projects/work. Hawaiians like my ancestors and now, Hawaiians like myself, make time to s l o w down and reconnect with nature especially during the two 'Ole Cycles within a thirty-day cycle. There are two 'Ole Cycles, one cycle is four-days/nights long and happens seven nights after any New Moon. The other 'Ole Cycle is three-days/nights long and begins twenty-one days after any New Moon. The four-days/nights of 'Ole have just passed.

The wisdom that has grown from my personal practice of non-production during the 'Ole Cycle began that winter of 2007, when all possibilities of returning to the way things used to be went up in a toxic drift. My husband and I have suffered and survived loss upon loss since that pesticide poisoning in Ka`aawa. We are worn from the turn of tides that wiped friendships, family connection and pre-conceived entitlements. Life compressed, relief and then remedy came because we were called -- shouted at, to live intimately with the Earth. With nothing to count on, we came to count on the Moon. My son's focused remark "Do no new projects during the 'Ole," gave me a talisman of time upon which I could begin to 'be like nature.'

Given all the uncontrollable events, choices and outcomes of our nomadic life, there were seven days and nights in any thirty days and nights when we could tap into the energy of something more powerful than loss. Four times following an empty sky (New Moon) we became 'ole, emptied of fear, emptied of deciding, emptied of trying to make things different. Again later in the journey of the Moon on her way to becoming empty, we had three times (day and night) when we became 'ole, emptied of fear, emptied of deciding, emptied of trying to make things different. This three 'ole cycle was also an especially auspicious time, and a time to offer pule (prayers) to the Akua of planting and nourishment. I began to be more conscious of these prayer times, and called particularly on those Akua. At first, I forgot to pray, and lost track of Mahina. She minded not. Next cycle she was there, wherever we were parked, the Moon was present. Slowly, month by month the cycles became more a part of us. We noticed. I felt the cycles, and knew when it was time to empty and be with the 'ole.

The practice now

Personal Retreat, Powerful Emptying

This four-days and nights of 'Ole just passed were a powerful time of emptying. Conscious and compassionate, I made time for Retreating, drawing in to listen intuitively and quieted the clamber of external shouts and demands.


Life with MCS is difficult. With time and attending the symptoms of this illness calm and improve, but my experience is the symptoms persist or change. Much like life itself, this illness changes and because we live on the fringe of society in nearly every definition, our well-being is not guaranteed by a health care provider or insurance co-payment. We have long since been able to pay for or use the services of doctor or dentist. Instead, our well-being is most dependent upon our being able to rest and sleep deeply, encouraging body-mind and spirit to restore itself natively. It is more difficult for my husband, who continues to enter and return from society earning money and recognition as a dependable and skillful worker. His work involves contact with contaminated sources: fragranced environments and people. He is affected, and the scents then need to be washed off using eight cups of hot water at a time. The process is intentive, and the steps multiple.

During the 'Ole Cycle our bodies empty, and we rest deeply, and heal a little bit more.


My life is compressed if one looks at it from the outside. I travel little, walk from our vardo to this Quonset, take walks in the woods and see few people. On the inside, my life is immense, my connection with the Divine intimate and the avenues of expression grow from that internal life. Writing, as I am now, is the exchange of energy that comes from my daily practices: prayers, reading of Al-Anon literature, astrology and the casting of Runes. All these make for a full day. Life Navigation is an art, the course set last week may well require correction because of course, I sail not alone. I tune in, ask for clarification an during 'Ole I write less, make even fewer contacts than my minimal usual, and I listen more.


Plant and fish, weed and mend nets

'Ole Cycles happen regularly, twice in a calendar month and with that natural structure I live my life in smaller chunks. The years of living on the road, presented us with the gift of wisdom wrapped with the moon. Time has offered us opportunities to become fisher folk and farmers of our personal sea, our personal garden. In no some way with no hold or ownership of sea or land, we plant seeds or fish where we are. Today, as the clocks jump ahead an hour in Northwestern USA, we plant ourselves lightly on portable homes no bigger than a closet. We share ourselves and our resources with two kind women and their animals. They share space in exchange for a minimal rent and our survival skills. We nurture this relationship, and restore the value of being together.

What, how and when I write changes and during 'Ole I stop writing on the blogs, and tend to the writing already begun editing and listening to the melody of stories written to hear them again. My decisions to close down access to the blogs written during the years of diaspora and building our vardo home are the right ones for me. The 'Ole time confirmed that choice, new energy comes when weeding is efficient and timely. There is room for the unexpected and the unknown. The newly created writers group rested this past long weekend, and soon we will come together to find what is next.


The Earth is experiencing huge changes. To deny that is a choice that will bring with it consequences unique to the chooser. Just as this planet and her inhabitants experience the changing relationship between humankind and place, we will experience changes in our personal relationships. I am aware of the change in me, as I recognize and am affirmed that "This is not a rehearsal. This is IT!" The sky is falling, and we are all affected. 

Astrology and faith reinforce the course of my life. With each loss and resurrection, I am learning to know all my 'cards' so to speak. With each loss I find out who this person is, and who I am not. The relationships I have whittle the facades I have worn, and I learn to deal more squarely with my real self. The self that wears a mask because toxic drift is real. The self that loves, yet knows their are limits. The self that knows some (or all) of my choices might end a friendship, relationship. And then, there are the 'Ole cycles when unexpected reconnections lead me to kindle a passion thought lost. Storytelling is that passion. Oh yes, the story told through words stretching across the page continues to flow, and change, as here I write. But it is the telling story that I love that has been left to seed. Yesterday I reconnected with a friend and master of the tale who did re-ignite my love for the oral tradition. To him, I end this winding tale, with a smile as broad as bowls. Emptied, there was room for Jeff Gere, and what a genie, showing up across the waves.

The Makana (the give-away)

An MCS Gypsy Remedy: Personal Retreat during the 'Ole Cycle of the Moon

First, a couple definitions.

This remedy is not a cure, but may aid, assist or support your personal well-being and health related choices; and it will surely do you no harm.

Gypsy. In all respects and manner, I humbly acknowledge the Romani Nation, the people who are called 'Gypsy' in countries across Planet Earth. To these ancient and respected travellers I mean no disrespect as I link myself as "MCS Gypsy." I experienced a life without settlement, and diaspora and know the Roma or Romani history with diaspora. Only with the highest regard for "Gypsies" do I call myself a wanderer and traveller.

Undeniably those who live with chronic illnesses like I do with Multiple Chemical Sensitivities benefit from the support of understanding people and practices for well-being as unique as each of us. My experiences with loss and recovery, hope and resilience has benefited from my relationship with nature and in particular my relationship to Mahina. Whatever your personal well-ness practices are here is one that is portable, practical and inexpensive. The Moon is there wherever you are. The practice of Personal Retreat during the 'Ole Cycle of the Moon" as adaptable as you find yourself, and inexpensive for it only costs you willingness and seven-days in a calendar month.

Try this:

Look at a calendar, or go on-line and find out when the New Moon is for the up-coming month.

Once you know when the New Moon is, count it as "1" and then go forward counting to "7". Day "7" is the first 'OLE DAY/NIGHT. There will be FOUR 'Ole days and nights in this cycle, "7",8", "9" and "10."

Days and Nights "7" through "10" are 'OLE.

  • DO NO NEW PROJECTS During the 'Ole
This may take some practice, some of us will find rest, weed and restore difficult. Start with awareness, and let the practice happen with time. Be easy.

  • There's a second set of 'Ole Days later in the month
Days and Nights counted "21" through "23" are the second cycle of 'Ole.

Three days and nights of the moon are 'Ole, a second time for resting and DO NO NEW PROJECTS within any calendar month.

I live a Gypsy-like life and know first-hand the harshness, and the wisdom that can come from a life of wandering. I suspect there will be more of us on this road, due the physical and economic shifts that are happening throughout the Planet.  We will need to draw on courage we have never known before, and may find our dreams, our homes and the life you know lost like sandcastles at a high tide.  If there are times when you can not count on a thing, try counting on the Moon.

Do you take time for personal retreats?

If you would like to learn more about the 'Ole Cycle, or consult with Mokihana e-mail me at ssvardoATgmailDOTcom.

Imagine Credit:  Copyright, Mokihana Calizar and Pete Little

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