Thoughts About Hina
Many Hawaiian enthusiasts know that ancient oli (chants), mele (song/dance), mo'o'olelo (historical stories), and ka'ao (fanciful stories) are written on many levels. How often though, do we take the chance to learn more about ourselves and life from a look at these various meanings? I recently attended a Talk Story in Volcano, Hawaii led by Serge Kahili King where I got just such a chance.
The topic was Meditation, Hawaiian Style, and as usual, Serge began with a legend that gave insight to the topic. The legend was one which I was not unfamiliar with. It was about Hina, a famous woman who made the finest kapa cloth (bark clothing) for her large family. After years of working diligently, Hina became tired of the drudgery and the lack of support or appreciation from her family. Therefore, she decided to leave. Using a magical rainbow ladder, Hina fled to the sun, but there it was too hot. Eventually, she took refuge on the moon, which was cooler and nearer.
I have learned a hula from my hula teacher, Loea Kawaikapuokalani Hewett, that speaks about a place on O'ahu, Pu'u Ma'eli'eli, from where Hina traveled to the moon after her loud beating of the kapa cloth disturbed the sleep of her husband. He awoke in anger and the two spoke unkind words, resulting in Hina being chased, so she fled up the hill (Pu'u Ma'elieli) and leaped to the moon. Her husband caught her leg which broke as Hina struggled to continue and that is why she only made it to the moon!
Even through many years of dancing this hula, I never thought about the possible deeper meanings to be found, beyond preserving the story of the place. And that is why choosing good teachers is such an important gift we can give ourselves. They will teach us their wisdom over and over again from many perspectives , and never give up on us or criticize us when we don't get it. And when the time is right, the seeds they planted will grow and we will "get it"!
In 1986, as I was about to be ordained as an Alakai of Aloha International, I was given a sacred name by Serge to connect me to my Hawaiian-at-Heart self. Translated, it is " Hina of food plants dancing in the forest." For many years I have enjoyed knowing I have a special connection to Hina. Yet, until now it was only a good feeling. The more I learn about her, the more I relate and the more I can use the gifts of who she was/is.
Hina was a powerful being, renowned throughout Polynesia. She was the daughter of Uli, who was herself a skilled sorcerer. One of Hina's sons was Maui, the first Hawaiian kupua, or shaman as we might call him. She taught her son well and he used what he learned to help her and his people in many ways. Assuming Hina's talents were not only those of the physical realm gives her stories a different look. She made the best kapa, the softest and strongest. Clothing protects and warms humans. So can positive thinking. The best clothing can protect the best and so Hina excelled, both at kapa making and good thinking. She probably was very close to being an enlightened being. However, she could only do so much in the earthly life she chose. Even with the sun's journey slowed down there still wasn't enough time in a day to do all she wanted to do. Does this ring a bell for any one? It does for me!
I love what I do each day of my life. I am blessed to care for my 87 year young mom and my 20 cats. I work from sunup until well after sundown. And at the end of the day, as happy as I am, there is a lot left undone. I feel like I have been running in place. Going nowhere fast. And it seems my passions for personal development are what get neglected.
I may feel overwhelmed but not enough to want to leave this life though, and that is where I can learn from another interpretation of Hina's journey. In choosing to follow her life's passions, Hina didn't leave entirely. If she did she would be in the awesome light of creation and far from the vibrations of this earthly plane. The story says her husband grabbed her leg and broke a piece off so she only made it to the moon. But what if that was no accident, what if it was what she wanted? What if her own love for her family and her desire not to leave them entirely brought her to the moon? Living on the moon could give her space for herself and at the same time a view of what the family was doing so she could send them inspiration and healing. Malama is one word for the moon (more often used is mahina) Malama also means to take care of, to tend to, to protect and preserve. The roots, ma, ma'a, lama, lamalama and la'a indicate moving towards a thorough knowing of the sacred light or moving towards enlightenment. Food for thought or thoughts for food?
"Going to the moon" is a technique Serge taught many years ago from his Kahili family traditions that I have used when things got too intense in my life. Issues were a lot clearer when seen from the perspective of the moon. Now I am more at peace, but I can see potential benefits from regular inner journeys to the moon, toward the light. Ready for the ride? Let's go!
Susan Pa'iniu Floyd is an Alakai of Huna International, Director of Training, and Kumu Hula (Hula Teacher) of Aloha International's hula group on Kauai - Halau Na Lei Kupua O Kauai.