Oahu, Hawaii. Kaneohe
At the Papahana Kualoa Waipao taro farm, I was invited to a public gathering of healers and hula dancers called the Pā I Ke Ola – Touched by Healing event. It began with a Hawaiian oli (chant) to open the honoring ceremony, followed by traditional Hula dancing. Each song that was sung and danced honored a different aspect of Hawaiian culture, including the beautiful land of Kaneohe where the event took place.
In the distance, a wonderful mist covered the tops of the Ko’olau mountains in Kaneohe. Participants crossed the nearby stream to view the taro patches that were fed by the fresh water. Taro, which is the staple traditional food of Hawaii, had been planted in traditional fashion and used to make poi (mashed taro).
There was a tent for people to receive lomi lomi, the Hawaiian bodywork that incorporates massage, bone/joint adjustment, as well as spiritual cleansing. Students of Kumu (teacher) Alva Andrews set up their stations, with some working on massage tables and other working on traditional Hawaiian mats. The traditional Hawaiian music gave way to more modern blues as a live band played in the background as they began to serve the delicious food.
In the past, I have received powerful lomi lomi sessions from Enrick Ortiz, one of Kumu Alva Andrew’s original students. After years of hearing about uncle Alva from Enrick, I finally had a chance to meet his mentor who was being honored at Pa I Ke Ola. Kumu Alva has studied with lomi lomi master Kumu John Kalua and also studied ho’oponopono (traditional Hawaiian counseling/mind healing) with Aunty Abbi Napeahi. His big hearted approach to healing lead him to also study outside of his own tradition with Hindu Master Gaush Supun. These trainings have melded together to craft his own unique style of healing which he shares openly with people of all backgrounds.
Under the Lomi tent at the conference, a mutual friend, Aunty Diane Stevens-Poire, introduced me to Kumu Alva. As we engaged in honi, the traditional Hawaiian greeting where our noses met and we breathed in each others’ breath, I felt a rush of care from Kumu Alva. The purpose of the honi is to have a pure exchange of each person’s Ha (breath of life), a moment to truly share each others essence.
We talked story, as I shared with him my training in the Iroquois healing arts that were transmitted to me through my uncle. He said, “your tradition is Native American, and mine is Native Hawaiian, but in the end it’s all the same spirit. We just have different vocabulary. All peoples come from the same source.” He smiled brightly, then invited me to gather with him again to talk more about how to build that bridge between our different approaches to healing. I felt honored by his respect.
It really warmed my heart to see these ancient practices in Hawaii continue on with the younger generations.