In response to my blog post asking about the most important issues facing Hawaii today, one respondent asked me the following:
"Can you get a group of women and talk among yourselves about "Hawaiian Sexuality"? What I want to hear is the old kupuna and see how they have kept themselves healthy, or not. If, so what happen over the years."
So yes I have started gathering info and stories from some of our kupuna here on Maui, more to come in following blogs... but FIRST I offer up to you all the following stories. Thank you Kaohi for asking the question and for giving the 'assignment'... I am sure it will be fruitful soon. More to follow soon about Women's Sacred Space, the Hale Pe'a, and other indigenous models of respecting sexuality...but first...
Here, for a start, is a post from my "lomilomi" blog on blogger.com... it is about one of my favorite kupuna wahine here on Maui. I am writing about her anonymously in this blog. It is written for all audiences, so please pardon my over-explanation of Hawaiian terms. Enjoy!
From LOMILOMI blog:
Many of the more important lessons I've learned from practicing lomilomi have been from working directly with people, especially Hawaiian people and most especially Hawaiian kupuna or elders.
One such elder is a friend's mother, a seventy-ish woman who has basically been a housewife her whole adult life, caring for her family while traveling with her husband to various military bases around the world. She is very quiet and humble, and most people would pass her by without thinking. Her mother was mana leo, spoke fluent Hawaiian, which she kept Auntie and her siblings from learning.
This Auntie was born and raised on the island of O'ahu, at a time when the image of what Hawaiian meant was almost completely dictated by the tourist industry. Auntie danced to such tourist-attracting songs as 'Little Grass Shack', 'Little Brown Gal', and other songs genrally designed to belittle her culture. Although at the time, as she said, no one really thought about it that way, they just did it. The modern day revival of Hula Kahiko was new to her.
As a physical case with in my practice of lomilomi, Auntie is very interesting. She was born with tendency toward Scoliosis, which at her age has turned her spine into the twisting shape of the whithered old trees she still climbs, chasing after her great-grandson. She is amazingly healthy and reports little pain most of the time. She does, however, get tired out from physical exertion, mostly because the structure of her body isn't very ergonomic at this point! So, about once a month, I travel to her home and offer her a session in a Hawaiian traditional modality of healing, lomilomi, which I learned from another 'ohana or Hawaiian family. After our sessions, she reports a spike in energy, and relief from the 'aches' and 'soreness' she sometimes feels. She also experiences greatly increased functionality for a period of usually 2 weeks after each session.
In talking with Auntie, she shared that there was a traditional lomilomi practitioner in her 'ohana, a man who had passed many years ago. Auntie's daughter, a very good friend and heart sister of mine, further elaborated that this 'Uncle' had a unique style of lomi (as did most families), and shared the basic mana'o with me, which I then incorporated into working with her and her whole family, and eventually into my work with others. This Uncle passed away without passing on his knowledge, so as far as I can tell, my friend's child-like memories, expressed sometimes through her or my hands, are the only remnant of his hana no'eau of lomilomi.
Auntie reports that as a child her Uncle would lomi her very often, and that it was not exactly a painful experience but not exactly comfortable either. She reports that the reason for his work with her so often in childhood was because of the Scoliosis. He would just work her body over, twisting this way and that. After he worked on her, then as now, she would experience a reduction of pain (which was more pronounced at the time) as well as an increase in functionality.
I began to think about Auntie's lifetime of experience as a recipient of lomilomi, both as a cultural practice of her 'ohana and as treatment for her specific condition. What I realized after much pondering and meditation, and after many hours with my hands on her body, is that the groundwork was laid by her uncle for her to live a basically pain-free, functional life, regardless of the actual shape of her spine. And this is something I find frequently repeated in indigenous thinking: we don't change the 'ano, or the nature of something. We instead encourage the potential to come forth.
Before working with Auntie, it was easy for me to look at a Scoliosis case, and think, "Oh, I can help this person by making his/her spine a little bit straighter, by assisting to correct vertebral rotations and by delaying progression of this condition, with massage and lomilomi". Which would have been true. But actually this is not the most helpful thinking in this case. What is most helpful to he person would be to see the potential of the overall end result: pain-free, functional life, and go from there. Really the intuition is the tool and the potential arises from within the person.