Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Voyaging Canoes: Reconnecting with Turtle Island

"We have chosen a motto for the whole project, which reflects the spiritual thinking in Polynesian culture about the sea, which has the same life-force running through its water as runs through our bodies, and how to treat this precious resource to not disturb Tangaroa, the God of the Sea. The following saying is a poetic way to say "be respectful and gentle":

"Move your paddle silently through the water"

We are a group of Pacific Islanders who have come together from many nations, sailing as one across the Pacific Ocean. We are voyaging to strengthen our ties with the sea, renew our commitment to healthy ecosystems for future generations, and to honour our ancestors who have sailed before us. As we sail our Vaka across the Pacific, we are respectful and gentle, always remembering our voyage motto: “Move your paddle silently through the water."  The Ocean provides us with the air we breathe, the food we eat, life-sustaining medicines, and nourishment for our souls. Currently, our Ocean is in peril and these essential gifts are quickly disappearing."

-from the website of PACIFIC VOYAGERS

The waka coming into San Francisco bay.  Photo Copyright Duncan Morrison, 2011
Mahalo to Stacey Simpkin, of Pacific Voyagers for permission to publish this image here

Seven voyaging canoes have made the 20,000 mile crossing from the Southern Pacific Ocean to San Francisco on the California coast of North America.  Voyaging and reconnection is a theme of collective consciousness, moving the spirit of ancestral memory through the blood and body of modern kanaka.  The wa'a kaulua, waka, voyaging canoes arrived in San Francisco Bay, August 3, 2011.  The journey will be documented in a film "My Blue Canoe"  scheduled for release in 2013.

View the trailer to the documentary "Our Blue Canoe"

Joseph Strong oil, Waikiki in the early 1900's

The culture of the Pacific includes the value of connection and care of all that is, and malama i ke kai, caring for the sea is inseparable from the core of earth-connected peoples.  The waka and the voyagers who are making this trans-Pacific journey continue a legacy centuries old.  Metaphorically and physically way-finding is a seed never dead, always potent, and sustaining.  I remember reading about Nainoa Thompson's early days as young 20 year old man awakened to the seed of voyaging.  I had begun my own personal navigations and was living in the Pacific Northwest already.  Thompson grew up in Niu Valley, one small valley over from my own Kuliouou Valley home.  Decades later, I would use Nainoa Thompson's mana'o to fuel cyber-wa'a journeys to share Kaulana Mahina -- the tracking of time based on the Hawaiian Moon Calendar.  At whatever age, and in whatever stage we find ourselves the journey of way-finding is a vital connection to being in sync with All-that-is; neither expecting to tame nature nor possess it.  Here is an excerpt from a Nainoa Thompson story that vibes with me, reminding me to value the child-wisdom that is Akua's great gift to us all.

Nainoa grew up on his grandfather's dairy and chicken farm in Niu Valley-when the valley was still all country. It was Yoshio Kawano, the milkman, who introduced the ocean to Nainoa. Dawn would often find Nainoa sitting on Yoshi's doorstep, waiting for Yoshi to take him fishing. Yoshi would bundle Nainoa into the old car, and off they'd go to fish in the streams or on the reefs. He came to be at home with the ocean, feeling the wind, the rain, the spray against his body. To the five-year-old Nainoa, the ocean was huge, wild, free, and open. The ocean and the wind were always changing; this was so different from the serenity of the mountains and the farm. Nainoa came to sense and feel the tune of the ocean world, develop-ing a personal relationship with the sea. These early experiences, Nainoa thinks, were an essential preparation for becoming a navigator: "We learn differently when we are young; our understanding is intuitive and unencumbered."

If you are interested in joining us for the September on-line workshop/voyage of "Count on The Moon" ... Way-finding with Po Mahina, email us at ssvardoATgmailDOTcom and we will respond with the details.


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