World of the spirits

You cannot see me, because I’m hidden behind a vale of green. I live inside the womb of Mother Earth, I drink her waters and my pores fill with loam. You cannot see what you do not believe to be real, none of us can.

And yet, in my visions and in dreams, I glimpse these beings. Here on Hawaii island, they live in lava rock – not the verdigris microcosm of wild mountain lichens nor the velvet chartreuse draped over spring hills. Wrapped in the twisted burnt umber bark of kiawe, well concealed from those who might disrespect, here they embed themselves into memory.

I recently shared conversation with an elderly Filipino lady raised on Maui, one who is likewise privy to the so-called invisible realms. She too has communed with the huaka’i po, the spirits. We have both encountered ali’i, kings of old decked in saffron capes made from the feathers of the mamo, birds driven extinct through desire and fashion. Brilliant crimson helmets, kahili trimmed in ‘apapane and ‘i‘iwi feathers. No accounting for species back then. To what purpose arrive these apparitions? What might they convey, embedded in rocks, coiled in the trunks of trees? Hair-raising presences mutely standing guard, biding time.

Invisible heralds of the sky convey messages. Those of the earth seem desirous only to root themselves, as if to remind us we stand on hallowed, sacred ground. Or do they speak an ancient language we are not attuned to hear? I once dreamed three fairies Brian Froud has yet to capture in brushstroke. Beyond aged, they sang me a song in a tongue so foreign yet familiar I awoke wet with tears of longing. More powerful love exits than in our wildest imagining.

The consequences of our actions close in with rapid inevitability. Witnesses to our fate, helpers or simply fragments of earthly existence brought forth from time immemorial? Those of us born without blinders are, like Cassandra of Greek myth, bound to speak the truth confronting us, though few might bother to heed.


forest crowning the Mana Rd., Hawaii Island

2 thoughts on “World of the spirits

  1. Morning to you. Interesting post worthy of some reflection. I once encountered some of those folks early 1965 during a longish stay alone in the barrancas between Waiapio Valley and Wiamano on the Big Island. One, I decided afterward, must have been Pali’s dog though I was never confident of it. The time was my first experience with protracted solitude and a lot of things ran together. I’d never had a shred of belief in the wee people until then.

    Toward the end of my stay most others vanished and what replaced them didn’t leave a lot of room for misunderstanding nor personal interpretation.

    Thanks for the post. Deja vu all over again, in a sense.

  2. Aloha Jules: thanks for your comment. When we lived on Moloka’i 20 years ago, we stayed for a short time in a house where the doors ‘lined up’ – which, in local lore, provided a gateway for the menehune. My father, the word’s biggest skeptic, came to visit from the mainland (he hadn’t been to Hawaii since Pearl Harbor). One morning he pulled me into the huddle of conversation, and, with the weary-eyed expression of a dog, said he had been up all night due to the patter of little feet – when he opened his eyes, he had seen little people running to and fro.

    Interestingly enough, neither my husband nor I ever saw those menehune. Actually to this day I have never seen them, though I’ve witnessed, as I said, ali’i and many other nature spirits all of my life.

    One for the books, I guess! Glad you got to see Waimanu and Waipi’o back in the day. My husband and daughter and her friend hiked into Waimanu from Wapi’o, only to arrive at a luscious waterfall and pool. Immediately after jumping in, the axe sound of helicopter blades greeted them, and came in so close they thought it was going to crash. So much for escaping civilization … apparently this is the norm, these days.

    Take care, Jules.

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