Genital Chants of Hawai'i
I'm in the Puna district of Hawai'i island—and all night long the neighbors were having noisy sex. Group sex. Lots and lots of sex in the fitful humid night. So here I am, sleep deprived at dawn, typing by the small lap pool, looking through palm trees at the ocean as the sound of the waves mingles with the mourning doves. Glowing pink clouds announce the presence of the goddess, Hi'iaka, Pele's favorite little sister.
Last night, we visited "big sister" too—hiked a mile in to view lava glowing in the dark, a landscape also lit by flares of burning ‘ohia lehua trees. In the last week, the lava has approached a few solitary homes built in these harsh fields of ropey pahoehoe lava and the harsh, jagged ‘a'a lava. One home was evacuated when the flow came within a hundred yards. No one knows what will happen next. Will Tutu Pele reclaim this land, or will she let the settlers be? I was touched by viewing the lit windows of the vulnerable homesteads.
I'd won two days at this "Castle in Hawai'i" through a raffle, so I'm in Puna living like the other half until I head back to Waimea, where I don't. After my long hike I wanted nothing more than a good night's sleep (and then some) on a better mattress than I will ever own. Of course, I should have remembered about the frogs, the ultimate noisy neighbors. The mating songs of the male Coqui frogs are ear piercing. These frogs are an invasive species, now ubiquitous in this part of the island. I even heard them on the lava fields—a place no sane amphibian would want to be caught in daylight.
The Coqui are out of control, one more thoughtless stressor upsetting the state of balance known as pono (uprightness, appropriateness) which is the guiding principal of Hawaiian culture. Of all the botanical and animal imports to these fragile islands, there aren't many that haven't damaged Hawai'i's fragile ecosystem. Stuff runs wild once it gets here. (And that's as true for resort developers as it is for GMO crops and the Coqui.)
Speaking of pono, we're hearing more about ecosexuals and sexecology these days and I am glad of it. However, it's hardly a new idea. In the old days the ali'i, the chiefly men and women of Hawai'i, ruled with a sacred purpose. They did not exist solely to rule the maka'ainana (commoners). What was more important was the fact that the mana (power) of their genealogy enabled them to function in a pivotal role. The ali'i were charged with dynamically interacting with the forces of spirit and the cycles of the earth—in order to maintain the proper balance between human needs and nature.
Fishing, aquaculture, gathering, hunting, agriculture—all depended on the role and rule of the ali'i as they conscientiously upheld kapu (spiritual guidelines), responded to changing conditions, and maintained the traditional system of land management, called ahupua'a, which was a meticulous system which promoted sustainability and an abundance of nourishment as well as free time and pleasure. It was so efficient that many people today are calling for a return to ahupua'a as a way to re-establish a sustainable culture and counteract the ecological degradation of the islands.