A full moon at Waihe’e Coastal Dunes & Wetlands Refuge is magical. Maybe it’s because the spirit world becomes seamless with the temporal world. Maybe it is always special because of everything that has happened there. Or maybe it’s just me and the times I’ve been there. The moonlight is bright, so everything seems more alive, more real. Scott Fisher of the Hawaiian Islands Land Trust is an extraordinary storyteller. On a recent visit there with my family he told “chicken skin” stories about the spirits that are attached to this place. My nephew really felt the stories.
I’ve been to this place a few times, once as a volunteer with Scott when he was doing a walk with ecology students from the University of Hawaii, once for a Kupu dinner and again for this Full Moon Hike.
The early Hawaiians believed that during a full moon the membrane between the spirit world and ours was thinned or more permeable. Movement from world to world was easier, so spirits could pass into our world. Night marchers with lights in the distance were seen more frequently on nights with a full moon. This site has many Heiau, sacred sites or places for worship. The Ali’i or royalty lived here and the people produced food in managed fish ponds and kalo or taro fields. This place was full of life and apparently is still full of spirits.
I have spent a lot of my life protecting places like this on the mainland with nonprofits and local governments. Our hike in Waihe’e refuge reminds me why.
I am grateful for organizations like the Hawaiian Islands Land Trust for protecting lands like this so that we can get out in nature, get close to historic and sacred sites to feel that connection that sustains us. The connections that fill our hearts.
The Ohi’a tree is a twisted and not overly attractive tree except for the blossoms. The Lehua blossom on the Ohi’a tree has a legend to go with it. The goddess Pele was attracted to the man Ohi’a. He told Pele he was in love with Lehua, so she turned him into a tree. The other gods feeling sad for Lehua because she loved Ohi’a turned her into a beautiful blossom and placed this blossom on the Ohi’a tree. Now the two lovers would always be together. Legend continues that if you pick a Lehua blossom it will rain the tears of the separated lovers.
In the Chinese Five Element System fire makes earth. There is nowhere that this is more evident than on the island of Hawai’i (Big Island) in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. The power of the fire in the earth is very apparent.
Steam is visible everywhere. At night the glow of fire from the caldera at Kilauea is visible from many points around the crater and frequently lava is visible flowing down the mountain to the sea.
As we drove towards the water in the daylight the stark landscape of lava spread out before us as far as the eye could see. This is where fire creates earth.
Regrowth is visible in the crevices. Tiny plants grab whatever nutrients they can along with the abundant water, and grow.
Some places that were missed by the lava flow are verdant with plants. It rains a lot so the recovery is quick – in geologic time. The earth begins to return to what we might think of as normal. Almost. Steam appears as the rain seeps into the hot ground and the fire in the earth is evident again.
The Garden of the Gods on Lanai is eerie and beautiful. But when I took this photo I didn’t realize that it was going to be so eerie. The bleached wood looks so like a skull making this sort of like a Georgia O’Keeffe painting. Click on the image to see it full size to get the full effect.