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Symbolizing Ourselves
by Jo Danieli

copyright by Jo Danieli 2000

Popstar Prince was clever. He suddenly changed his name into a symbol and from then on was known as "The Symbol" (he has probably changed his name again since then; it doesn't matter). By that he seems to have shown great understanding in a "huna" sense: We are the reflected image of our inner personality according to our opinions concerning ourselves and the circumstances we live in. Whatever we have thought in our life has brought us into our actual condition and situation. So we can say that we actually symbolize the myriads of thoughts we have thought throughout or life. As we know, the energetic power of our thoughts influences the circumstances we live in and our own appearance, our health and our success or failure. Whatever has our most attention shows up in our life to a greater extent than other aspects of our interest (intentional or not). Life is as we think it is. We symbolize what we think.

It is fun to learn to "see" symbols as they sometimes make us smile or be amazed on our own ideas of what we consider as being important in our existence.Getting accustomed to our "ku's" language provides deeper friendship with this part of our self, and this provides better cooperation, understanding, and insight into our own role in creating our future. Whoever is ready to deal with the emotions and underlying belief-patterns of life's symbols is doing a really big favour to himself. He offers himself the ability to become healthy and successful. He will see how things fit together much better than before, because he has made use of signs, due to his readiness to direct more attention to them once they pop up somewhere.

We take it for granted and consider it quite natural (mahalo to Mr. Freud!) that the symbols we see in our night dreams are contain information, and we do our best to discover their meaning. Huna offers some really nice techniques to do this. My "Ku" has been just delighted and really eager to communicate with me via dreams since I started to practice them. But I have discovered that the symbols I meet in my waking state are of no less importance and are not much different from my night dreams. The thought of myself dancing, for instance, always makes "Ku" "wake up," as it represents an intimate image of power between us.

"Lono" (the conscious mind) may give "Ku" (the subconscious) a symbol for anything worth achieving, and keep this in mind as kind of motivating force. Whoever declares a camera as a symbol for his future career as an actor enforces his intention each single time she or he draws the symbol into his thinking and furnishes it with enthusiastic emotions. The actor who becomes aware that he is meeting cameras everywhere tourists ask him to take a photograph of them, the word "camera" shows up as frequently, suddenly everybody seems to wear cameras as lockets, gets to know by those "coincidences" that his vision is being worked on as his inner motivation directs his attention to the symbols. If he finds out that the cameras he sees mostly are broken or that he always feels the need to scratch his face when seeing a camera, the message doesnÕt mean support of the plan, but may be a warning to clear something concerning the "becoming-an-actor"-idea. Symbols are perfect tools of communication between "Ku" and "Lono," depending on what you consider as a symbol.

To use symbols doesn't just mean to put on war-paint daily and place weird stickers on the car windows (but if you feel it could be of importance concerning your communication with yourself, you need not hesitate to do it). Some people instinctively use common symbols unconsciously. One day I painted a little butterfly on the leg of a friend whose greatest wish was to change his sad life to a happy one and stand on his own feet again, safely. The next day Serge King told us at a meeting in Princeville, Kaua'i, that butterflies were symbols for transformation. No, no one had asked him. He just stared onto the ceiling of the Hawaiian Art Museum within a talking-break and suddenly said the sentence about the butterfly. Great feeling as if he just had said it for me; at least this experience signified for me that I was doing right the way I dealt with my friend's problems. And I was motivated to talk with him more in a "huna"-sense, and yes, many things changed since then.

Once I chose an orange as a symbol for the successful fulfillment of a writing project. Suddenly I met oranges everywhere; in films, newspaper advertisments, on wrappings of sweets, as shop window decorations for bookshops and even as a bookmark subject! In my first year of studying Huna I used to find shoes everywhere. Maybe more than a hundred. They were placed as pairs on highways, in front of the door of the house I lived in, in the park, just in corners in town, in fields and woods, and of course they played several roles in my dreams ... That time I didn't "work" on them, just became aware of them. I never possessed many shoes, but I used to like those I do possess very much. Suddenly I found out that the shoes represented a new way of thinking I would be very fond of and that would bring me very far (like shoes, and like shoes I would have to change different opinions for new ones). Bingo! Some experiences with symbols are really breathtaking, for instance that the day I learned about the "piko-piko" breathing I met a car with the word "Piko" on the license plate in Vienna!

The Hawaiian "hei," the string figures (also known as "cat's cradle") belong to the most interesting symbolizing tools. They are known all over the world, and one meaning of "hei" is "to snare." To snare what? Thoughts? Although nobody knows exactly what they were used for (but it is obvious that they were not only children's toys), it is known that traditionally the making of a "hei" was accompanied by chants of different contents, and nowadays it is not known with certainty which parts of the meanings are orignal, which have been transformed to modern understanding and which have been just newly invented. Chanting raises the energy level of the chanter and helps bring about a state of contemplation, relaxation and calmness; a method of finding a path to the inner being.

Whoever has played with string figures knows how calming it is, too (combined with chanting wow!) and that special thoughts come up after a while due to the different forms of string pattern created by oneself. Now, what the player creates may not be accidental, and shamans point out the fact that the use of the string pattern may be seen as a message to "Ku" or the interpretation of the pattern as a message from "Ku"; or from any kind of being. To just look into the string and let the inner pictures flow may deliver answers, motivation or emotions connected with the underlying intention of why one looked into the figures. Some string symbols have definite names like "turtle" or "sunrise" and symbolize a natural form or a quality or a scenery, so that someone who understood those could establish good communication between his Ku and his Lono, between his human being and nature and between different aspects of his actual life. To show Ku the sunrise symbol may comfort worries or point to the new beginning within a newly-oriented period of life, for instance. String figures may have been used by people who were familiar with them to give information to others, as Samuel Kamakau wrote in "Ka po'e kahiko" concerning the death rituals in old Hawaii: "A person who is dying moves his hands as though making string figures (hei) ..." Lois Stokes, string figure expert among the "kupua" (shamans), tells that about 115 "hei" from Hawaii are still known, and you may, like her, study physics, mathematics, archeology, ethnology, comparative religions, healing arts and much more to be able to find out the meaning of string figures but you also can use them in the way you feel like. Lois says, "String figures are alive." They are ready to act as symbols for everybody, no matter whether they were used for divination in former times, for navigation, as a memory bank, as a means of communication, as energy devices or as means of letting the "inner spirits" talk out of their realms to the inhabitants of ordinary reality.

People always deal with symbols without being aware of it for instance, with money. Money symbolizes value, and value symbolizes judgement which implies criticism of what is considered not to be valuable ... so it might be a good idea to take money as movement of energy, nothing more, and bless it. The philosopher Ernst Cassirer from Marburg, who lived from 1874 to 1945, tried to give meaning to the idea of symbolism related to language. He said, people never can consume or provide anything without intervention of symbols and signs this is due to the fact, that as spiritual-energetic beings who build up a material body around them we had to develop tools of communication between materia and the other different forms of energy. There is no definite "reality" which we could conceive, and even "to conceive" is a speciality of only one aspect of our being.

A neighbour of mine had a dog, whose name was "Chili" and wow! This animal was really "hot!" To my big surprise the owner changed the dog's name to "Flocki" which in English might mean something like "Flaky," something very soft and sweet, to change the dog's character! I don't know, if it worked, but the day when I read Earl Stokes' article on "Life is in names" on the Huna International website, I passed (after two years of no contact) this ex-neighbour's car and saw "Flocki" sitting very, very calmly inside. If "Flocki" had become a more quiet dog, this might have had to do with the ownerÕs changed way of dealing with him and thinking of him. Her attention, encouraged by the symbolic value of the new name, was on him being calm and nice, and as energy flows where attention goes, the former wild beast might have changed slowly to a "flake."

My own dog alway reacts to my moods, I need not even look at him, he knows when he has to be patient if our walks have to be postponed for a little while because of certain reasons. We lived together already before I started my orientation on the Huna principles, and I could get very angry out of old disappointments and hurts, as I had a real hard life with drug abusers and stuff. My dog always knew when it was better not even to move when I passed by, and not even to look at me when I didn't like to be stared at, but he also knew when he could jump around and tease me even when my voice was loud, as he felt the difference between my dangerous and my just stinky moods. Dogs can feel bad only because of a loud voice, and I had to apologize a lot. My reaching for the door key symbolizes "street! smells! running!" for my dog, and his presence and behaviour symbolizes natural genuine egoism for me.

One day I became aware of double numbers. I didn't have anything to do with numbers at all, but suddenly everywhere those double numbers appeared, 44, 99, 66 and combinations. During a long car ride I found myself talking with myself aloud "Okay, Ku, I see. I am to be cautious. Okay, I am attentive." Suddenly I sat like on a lava rock in my car but relaxed as good as I could. After a while a building site showed up some hundreds of meters in front of me on the highway which was full of curves, and at the same time I saw a car approaching behind me in extreme high speed. The driver possibly couldn't see the building site yet and the fact that the two road lanes would merge to one in a short distance ahead made my heart jump. One of us would have to push the brakes or we would arrive at the obstacle at the same time, but if we both pushed the brakes, this might happen, too! I gave myself another two seconds to look into the mirror and I saw the number "44" on the license plate and I pushed the brakes immediately as much as I could without skidding. The other one managed it to pass my car and slip in to the one lane that was left within a distance of some centimeters from touchdown with my car without reducing his speed much. If I had hesitated longer ... okay. I have not. The hot feeling while driving was over, and I didn't encounter double numbers any more.

In old Hawaii, told Mary Kawena Pukui in the book "Nana i ke kumu" ("Look to the source"), goosebumps and sudden shivers were considered serious signs of something unusual being "in the air," and people immediately put their attention on the symbols around them. Old HawaiÕi was full of symbols: the way the birds flew, the poi boiled, the clouds build up, the dog barked, the "kahuna" coughed, grandmother's mole changed colour ... The tingling feeling in love affairs was considered to be a special valuable sign especially when it was missing. Concerning the wide diversity of cases when symbols were seen the family members of course didn't always agree in interpreting the signs, and a "kahuna" was asked for advice. Probably the "kahuna" only taught the people how to understand themselves what they symbols told them, as in a Huna sense it is always the person's own "Ku" who needs the opportunity to express a message and only one's own "Lono" is able to interpret what is of concern for oneself. Of course the "kahuna" or a modern shaman may rely on her or his own intuition in finding the right interpretation for another person's view of symbols, based on an understanding of the interconnectedness and oneness of all existent forms. Especially "kahuna" were able to make use of the invisible "aka" threads between all energy forms to visit the "dreams" of other beings. In old times the "kahuna" mostly knew a lot about the family circumstances and the personÕs condition, which was very useful for interpreting symbols.

Stones were very often used for symbol work and are still. For example, they may be loaded with something one wants to get rid of, or they may be empowered with healing "mana." Of course you can use anything you want, even the contents of the dustbin, and have them symbolize a past relationship you want to bring out of your life. Modern psychology idly talks of satisfaction due to the feeling of "controlling" something; this may describe the satisfaction on finding means to enforce one's own intentions of clearing conflict areas, healing or achieving something else. All spiritualism in the world is based on using rites and symbols which originally were meant to harmonize the relationships between mother earth and all her creatures and the humans. Heike Owusu describes in her book "Symbole der Indianer Nordamerikas" ("Symbols of the Indians of Northern America") like many other authors how delicate and spiritual the handling of symbols in so called "uncivilized" peoples were. The geometric forms the Indians of North America used express konwledge of the hidden powers they witnessed in their existence: The straight line symbolizes direct power of the mind, signifiying the raising tendency of a spiritual being; the horizontal line symbolizes the power of will; two diagonal lines stand for a person who gains the power to rule by his or her acting in an idealistic way. A "U"-form symbolizes healing by spiritual growth, whereas a "U" the other way around stands for the power of influence. A wavy line symbolizes the forming of matter by psychic and spiritual energy. Those examples may show that not only the shamans of Hawaii knew about Huna, the secret of how a human being works in connection with all other energy-patterns, as man is like Deepak Chopra says - just a "local disturbance in the Quantum field." To live a holy life meant for the Indian peoples as a whole to be able to make positive use of the power of spirit and to develop creative ideas, efforts symbolized by a "V." The "victory" finger sign reminds us of that. Triangles are connected with conscious being, self trust and wisdom, and the big triangle in the shape of the sides of the Great pyramid in Cairo signifiies the union of all opinions and experiences to the greatest harmony in the highest point (makes me think of "Kanaloa") due to inner wisdom, sensibility and equality. A turned triangle of that kind significates that we all are the cause for everything that happens to us seems like the Indian wise people were Huna teachers! The circle, by the way, symbolizes the mind with all its aspects as such. The Indian knew exactly that people are very different concerning their inner qualities, the six-pointed star stood for a great personality, whereas no human was considered to be wise before the age of 36.

If a symbol itself is believed to radiate certain power, a person can sense and make use of that energy depending on the opinions he or she has concerning "mana" and the related phenomena. Serge King describes in his book "Earth Energies" a variety of "energy forms" that are not acknowledged by official science but are to be felt and worked with by certain people. Many people can feel if somebody looks at them from behind, some don't. Some enjoy the tingling feeling when placing the hand near the symbol "Eye of Kanaloa" and the relaxing or motivating effect of looking at it, others just feel dizzy when staring at it and don't feel energy at all. On the other hand those may travel to the Great Pyramid three times like being addicted to the kind of charismatic radiation of that building whereas the others find it being just a collection of big stones with brown-eyed little Egyptians resting on their camels in their shadow. We develop patterns; like Reiki symbols, "The Eye of Kanaloa" or just alphabet, hieroglyphs or runes, according to our understanding of what we experience and our intentions. A star pattern may have to do with the observation of the skies, a circle with watching waves spreading on a pond after throwing a stone in all experiences with special effects on the human mind and later on turned into symbols of special meaning which are used individually. Whoever uses symbols uses those which fit certain subjects as they "feel good" for him due to his beliefs. Whoever isn't interested in calligraphic beauty may not be able to work with Reiki symbols, whoever considers stones being dead and cold can place tons of them in his home because Feng Shui teaches that, and it won't improve the atmosphere. Whoever considers singing aloud as being embarrassing and may feel strange having to hold a talking stick in a Huna seminar may lose his motivaton to contribute to the conversation instead of being encouraged.

As relicts of the people of old Hawaii many petroglyphs, stonecarvings, are found on the islands. Those figures often are to be identified as human shapes, the most famous is the so called "Rainbowman," a figure with a kind of halo over his head. One may interpret it as symbolizing "mana" and charisma, but in fact nobody knows what the Hawaiians of old meant by doing their carvings and as nobody knew the artist who made the "rainbowman" petroglyph nobody even knows if it was an artist, a "kahuna" or just a bored child on his duty to watch out for whales. I saw carvings in the Namib desert and was stunned by their impact on me, but I immediately found out that my Ku has her own ideas of what the meanings could be, and I stopped reading the given meanings, not seeing any use in competing against other people's opinions. If you cover telephone book pages with line drawings while chatting on the phone, your partner may interpret this as sign of you being excited, but he or she doesn't know that the little sketch of a werewolf is not a sign of your beginning transformation but symbolizing your plan to watch the film "Wolf" with Michele Pfeiffer and Jack Nicholson in the cinema.

On a sunny sunday in Princeville, at "talk story" again, an enthusiastic Hawaii fan asked Serge King who had talked about the "Rainbowman" what the little stone heap on the road from X to Y would stand for. Serge laughed and answered that it could be interpreted that someone had just wanted to place one stone on top of the other, and he wouldn't comment any more on that. But I would like to add something for that enthusiastic lady: If the stones have given wings to your mind and let you feel an even closer connection to Hawaii than you already felt in all your joy with your discoveries and adventures, so that you considered the stone heap being a symbol that the trip would be a full success, then just take it the way you would like to see it: as a greeting from the People of Old.

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Copyright by Aloha International 2001
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