The real meaning of Alo'ha

In my last blog post, I said “Alo'ha—greetings from Hawai'i.” Today the word Alo'ha is used by the state’s tourist industry as a greeting: “hello and good by.” The indigenous Hawaiians, however, say it really means “presence in front of” (Alo) and breathing each other’s air ('ha). In other words similar to the Lakota saying O’mitkuye Oasin (we are all related) or the Mayan In-lak’ech (you are the other me). They are words of connection, love for each other’s humanity, the intrinsic laws that says our lives, our destinies, our futures, are bound together.

I’ve learned so much at the Kalani Oceanside Retreat at this conference of indigenous elders, teachers, shamans, students, activist, dreamers, and soul keepers. We are now in our fourth day. Yesterday an intense healing process was initiated after an affront to a Hawaiian family during a presentation the day before (as one of the family members was teaching, chanting, dancing, this person was rudely interrupted to move the agenda along). I can’t write here the deep healing that eventually happened for all of us during this process. But I will say that it proves spirit has its own “agenda.” Many deep moments of remorse and true sorrow eventually occurred despite counters and semi-counters. In the end we observed a compelling Polynesian (Hawaiians are also rooted in Polynesian cultures) forgiveness ceremony from an elder/teacher originally from Samoa and now teaching at the University of Honolulu that everyone respectfully calls Dr. Tusi.

From what I’ve learned, the Polynesian rooted people are similar to the Mexikas (so-called Aztecs), Mayas, and other indigenous peoples of Mexico, Central America, South America, and North America (we are all related). In fact, there are many who say there was interactions between the boat-making Polynesians and various tribes on the continent called “The Americas”—although there really is only one continent, not many, as US historians and officials have had us believe for rather racist and colonial reasons.

I’ve had great opportunities to teach what we know about our traditions, values, rites. For example, I did a presentation on the 2012 Mayan prophecies. Although I felt it wasn’t enough time to truly present a more complex and nuanced presentation, what I did say resonated with all the indigenous people in the room. Even the white academics of “time shifts” and the galactic alignments took what I said with respect—I usually have to add more to the pieces of puzzles they think they have (and I am only a student of these prophecies, not a master).

We also took an amazing ride to the end of a lava flow. I’ve seen this on TV and never imagined I would actually witness one of these. Lava flows have been happening here for millions of years. Most recently, people have lost homes and lives living near these spontaneous and powerful deep earth eruptions. While they don’t explode like one imagines a volcano would do, the lava does follow many miles from a source to the ocean that creates a large sulfur cloud and red-glowing smoke. Many people were there standing on old sulfite lava rocks from past flows (they cool rapidly and over time can be stood on) taking pictures, singing songs, talking, or just taking in the once-in-a-lifetime scene.

Hawai'i has the world’s largest mountain—deep in the ocean like 27,000 feet with another 15,000 feet above the sea—and is constantly churning new lava-blood and land.

The most valuable aspect of this conference so far remains the teachings and sharing from the various cultures represented here—including, to add from my last post, people from Portugal, Brazil, France, South Africa, West Africa, and many mixed heritages (I met a man who has links to the royal family in Hawaii and Scotland’s William Wallace; another has Hawaiian, Japanese, European heritages in his ancestry, and there was also a Hawaiian with a Puerto Rican father).

I hope today proves as fulfilling and actively energized with healing and sharing as yesterday.


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