Tuesday, August 21, 2012

"History is no mystery to me"

The Hawaiian band Kupa'aina plays their brand of evolutionary revolutionary music. This video is not the greatest quality, but the sounds are. Linking to their website will give you much more about this band and its kuleana.

The heat of summer has come to the Pacific Northwest, a slight breeze tickles the tips of the trees. Their fingers are sensitive to the company of makani the wind and we who share this place need only notice the relationship to be part of it. My son is with us this summer and like the wind (he is Libra, the Cardinal Air sign) he often brings experiences we would otherwise miss. Yesterday we sat to have toasted cheese sandwiches in the shade of the Quonset and the Tall Ones that grow around us. On his ipod was the music of the band Kupa'aina his favorite Hawaiian band. Except for knowledge of one of the band's members, "Uncle Stan" (Stan Tibayan) I did not know about Kupa'aina.While I munched my slightly over-done cheese sandwich I listened to the song "Night Marchers" and before the four minute mele was done tears ran down my face salting the already salty raw cheddar lunch. The title of this post is a nod to the refrain that repeats and haunts the listener in the lyrics drawing from me the kaona, the hidden meanings which are the interwoven strands of memory ancient people embed in language. "History is no mystery to me" is both a revolutionary affirmation and a sad awareness that for some with the blood of Kanaka and those unaware of Kanaka knowing neither history (real or fabricated) mute the ability to attune or worse, history does not beckon for the calling for mystery to resolve is unimportant.

The band's trans-generational membership and the music that each member contributes to the whole is an empowering and sustaining sample of how an ancient people evolves. Two articles-blogposts entitled "Animal Stories" and "Animal Stories, continued" from writer Terri Windling have stimulated me to call on the winds to speak of language and history from the world of the Pacific's ancient people. In each of Terri Windling's posts extensive quotations from Writer in residence for the Chickasaw Nation Linda Hogan expand the readers world. The following quotes are from Linda Hogan's essay "First Peoples", the whole of Hogan's quotes are included on Windling's posts. They are beautifully assembled with photos and quotations from other writers as well as thoughtful comments from readers and writers who attune to the relationship with All. I've included my thoughts about Hogan's messages in this blog post and draw from my experiences as a maturing adult and elder with roots deep and widely influenced.

 "I've found, too, that the ancient intellectual traditions are not merely about belief, as some would say. Belief is not a strong enough word. They are more than that: They are part of lived experience, the on-going experience of people rooted in centuries-old knowledge that is held deep and strong, knowledge about the natural laws of Earth, from the beginning of creation, and the magnificent terrestrial intelligence still at work, an intelligence now newly called ecology by the Western science that tells us what our oldest tribal stories maintain--the human animal is a relatively new creation here; animal and plant presences were here before us; and we are truly the younger sisters and brothers of the other animal species, not quite as well developed as we thought we were..."
"[The] ancient intellectual traditions are not merely about belief ... Belief is not a strong enough word...rooted in centuries-old knowledge ... the human animal is a relatively new creation here." My experience with ancient intelligence stems from my earthly connection as a daughter born to Pacific Islands, and the even more ancient links to China whose culture melted early into the voyages of both my Hawaiian-Chinese mother and her Filipino husband, my father. The thing that tweaks the practical and spiritual lives of someone like me born into a society and culture so heavily burdened by 'occupation' is the bridges that must be built to live with voices and roots that 'speak' in languages so covered with dust and illusion. Difficult to maintain that deep knowing with such layers of illusion? That is an understatement.

Here's an example of how dust and illusion and the influences of the universe do spiritual and psychic house-keeping. When I turned 60, I was living in my car with my beloved partner and husband. My physical health was at a lifetime low. We had no 'home' as most would define it; all semblance of connection with the people and values of Hawaii as I'd know it were steadily eroding. I could not live inside a house and could not be near most people. Sensitivities to chemicals of any kind enveloped me in a tight shell. The invisible, the unspeakables, the homeless, the traumatized. All of those tags could and did apply to us. Attachment to the recent past was an impossible reality. Hawaii 2008 wasn't working for us. I will be 65 this coming November, and we survived and dare to thrive. How did it happen?

The dust and illusion cleared when we began to count on the moon for wisdom and a more ancient reckoning of time. Parked inches from the beach on the southeastern shore of O'ahu at a place we just call The Tidepools, we parked my Subaru. Only after dark would be find a space to back our place of refuge for one night at a time. A newly printed Hawaiian Moon Calendar became our anchor to ancient and applicable wisdom that spoke the language of kuleana, responsibility. We had nothing more to lose, and had everything to rebuild. Night after night, the darkness and the progression of light from Mahina, the moon fed us hope one night at a time. Necessity began clear: a place to sleep in peace, food to eat, clean air to breath. At first most people would not understand what or why we were living from a car. Explanations didn't work for the most part. From November through March, we learned to live with the essentials of a being on the planet. A handful of people understood enough to shelter us and offer us what they could. Counting on the phases and influences of ancient Hawaiian wisdom about moon time, we let Mahina guide us. My dreams and my tap root of wisdom strengthened. I saw that there would be separation necessary for me to survive and hope to recovery. What had worked as a place of shelter and home would need to be released. The island home I was experiencing would not nurture me. But, it is the ancient voices and the dust-covered values of time keeping and tuning to the darkness that has led to the recovery and bridge-building today. It is my present, this present life.
 "It seems we have always found our way across unknown lands, physical and spiritual, with the assistance of the animals. Our cultures are shaped around them and we are judged by the ways in which we treat them. For us, the animals are understood to be our equals. They are still our teachers. They are our helpers and healers. They have been our guardians and we have been theirs. We have asked for, and sometimes been given, if we've lived well enough, carefully enough, their extraordinary powers of endurance and vision, which we have added to our own knowledge, powers and gifts when we are not strong enough for the tasks required of us. We have deep obligations to them. Without other animals, we are made less."
Before we left O'ahu and while we slept near the ocean near the Tidepools, Honu and Palaoa, Turtle and Whale visited us often. Their ease with the tides both the shallow ones which offered Honu abundant feeding ground; and the depths of ocean needed for Palaoa to continue long and deep voyages planted seeds for our future, our present. Time is the keeper of progressions, while we learned and practiced making sense of our journey of loss, the culture that develops for us is filled with the assistance of the animals. Here in the woods thousands of miles from the O'ahu Tidepools the animals: squirrel, coyote, owl, chipmunk, frog, the Bird Ones cat, dog, all of them have something to teach. Our third solar cycle here in the woods and the hundreds of moon phases teach us patience and allowing. The mystery of history continues with a layer of something other than dust and illusion. In place of the illusion of 'loss' or 'homelessness' the mystery of living as human catapults us into place. "Oh, there are other ways to be." Into the root of our being, I believe the mystery is what goes beyond explanation and human life can become more equally extraordinary as Linda Hogan described in the second quotation above. We do have deep, and personal, obligation to animals. We are animals, though too often we separate ourselves and live with the illusion that we are not.

Our gifts come over bridges that are build from investments much like Spider invests in her web-building. All around me here in the woods, evidence of her intricate work dangles between Huckleberry arms, off of a porch ceiling. She invests in web-building because its in her nature to do so. We have that nature as well, and after explanations and words such as 'loss' cycle through, there is the present and it is then history. Tonight Mahina closes into the final phase of Ku, a new cycle of light and dark progresses. Ku phases are times of upright growth; and then there will be rest and reconciliation. The elegance of time increases when you can feel the effect of the heavens when she shouts. The mystery is in learning to hear the many languages, and the kaona the many meanings.

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