Our Divination of the moment I drew from The Hawaiian Oracle deck. I fanned the cards from left to right and drew a single card with my left hand signaling it’s origin from the right hemisphere or intuitive seat of the brain. Ka Pe’elua or The Caterpillar was the aumakua or spirit guide selected.
In Ancient Hawai’i, Ka Pe’elua would feast on the leaves of the ‘Uala or the Hawaiian Sweet Potato. This food staple was crucial to sustaining the Hawaiian population in health and prosperity. Ancient Hawaiians respected and understood the natural order of the Universe and did not seek to oppose the Pe’elua by killing it but rather they fostered conditions mutually beneficial by creating an area where the Pe’elua could feed on discarded ‘Uala leaves after removing the caterpillar from the plant. A supplication asked of the creature requested that it leave the tubers for human consumption in exchange for the delicious leaves, hoping that both species could be supported in life by the ‘Uala, in peaceful coexistence.
Pe’elua’s wisdom speaks to us about creating boundaries on a spiritual level, preventing ourselves from crossing into the realm of retaliation and revenge based on fear of lack, but instead seeking an outcome where there are no losers but winners on both sides. We must find balance in our understanding of perceived threats instead of moving automatically into opposition, squashing what we fear with a heavy hand of vengeful resistance. When we react with destructive fear, spurned on by our entitlements, we create an atmosphere ripe for suffering that ripples out into our environment only to return to us with devastating effects. The results compromise happiness and the natural order of the universe; potentially leading to more conflicts with unimaginable collateral costs.
In Western civilization the solution typically sought to preclude predators from competing for a limited resource calls for destroying the perceived threat. Multinational GMO corporations reap enormous profits from the sale of their patented genetically modified seed crops along with the highly toxic cocktail of proprietary chemicals required to sustain their seeds through maturation by the across the board killing of insects and weeds.
Whether we talk about the conflicts in the middle east; the justification for and the production of genetically modified organisms; or the politicians willing to up-end a fragile economy to get their way without compromise; the wisdom of Ka Pe’elua is clear. Find the common ground first and work for mutually beneficial outcomes that sustain life for all not just the the diabolical ego’s of the powerful.
This is the second post in our Hawaiian Hedge Plant series and we will be outlining the many marvelous uses for the sacred Hawaiian Ki or Ti Plant.
One of the most sacred and versatile plants introduced to Hawai’i by early Polynesian settlers was the Cordyline fruticosa, once considered a member of the Lily family botanists have reclassified the plant as an Agave. Known to Hawaiians as the Ki or Ti Plant, This tightly clustered plant with wide blade-shaped leaves 7 to 10 cm wide and 40 to 80 cm long is fast growing, reaching heights anywhere from 1 to 4 meters.
This popular and storied Hawaiian hedge plant is considered to bring good luck to those who plant it near their homes. The Ki was sacred to Lono, deity of fertility and music and his consort Laka goddess of the hula or dance. It was used as an emblem of the Ali’i and denoted elite rank, privilege, and divine power. The kahili, (feather standard of royalty and the nobility) in its earliest form, was a Ki stalk with its clustered foliage of glossy, green leaves at the top. The leaves were used by the Kahuna La’au Lapa’au or high priests and administers of the Kapu(ancient Hawaiian law) in many healing, religious, and ceremonial rituals.
Practical Applications for Ki, Ti, Si, La’i – Cordyline fruticosa
Some of it’s many practical uses included: food wrappings, cups, plates, rain capes, hula skirts, leis, cordage, footwear, hukilau nets, fishing lures, and thatching material.
Food and Beverage-
Ki root was baked to extract sugar and the baked Ki root itself was savored as a desert, used as a preferential emergency food in times of famine, and brewed into a beer during pre-contact times which has since evolved into a distilled spirit, known today as Okolehao (iron bottom). Once used as a treatment for scurvy, it is best described as a cross between rum and tequila.
Ki is most likely indigenous to Southeast Asia and was transported throughout the Pacific by Polynesians who used the relatively light weight, compact, starchy rhizome for food during long ocean voyages.
Topical Medicinal Uses-
The natural shape of the Ki leaf lends itself well to creating hot packs, poultices, and herbal wraps packed with other medicinal hedge plants. Here are some simple and effective traditional Hawaiian la’au applications for Ki leaf.
Aches & Pains: For muscle pain and stiffness in joints snugly wrap one large Ki leaf around the joint or muscle area overnight. Repeat for 5 days or as needed.
Back Pain: Wrap heated river stones in Ki leaf and apply to sore muscles for inflammation and pain relief.
Fever: Place the Ki leaf in cool water, and then apply the leaf as a compress directly on the effective areas to help reduce fever. Cover the patient with a light sheet, to avoid chilling.
Decongestant: Steam from boiled young green Ki shoots and leaves can be used as an effective decongestant and the fragrant Ki flowers reduces asthma symptoms.
Stress Relief: Young green Ki shoots can be boiled and chilled to make a muscle relaxant and nerve calming beverage.
Magical or Metaphysical Uses-
Ki stalk was used as a diving rod in the practice of Huli Honua which is akin to the Taoist tradition of Feung Shui. The intuitive understanding of the movement of earths energy fields or Geomancy as practiced by the ancient Hawaiians, was the process of aligning oneself with the mana or energy of the ’aina or the land. Understanding the flow of that mana could be determined with the Ki stalk. The proper alignment of all man-made structures with-in the flow of the earth’s energy fields was essential for harmonious and successful living in ancient Hawai’i.
Today the Ki leaf is used in ritual cleansings and blessings. Dipped in a mix of Hawaiian sea salt with fresh water and accompanied with a pule or prayer, the Ki Leaf is used to sprinkle the holy water over it’s recipient(s); offering divine protection from evil and an invitation for the presence of good.
Aloha nui & Happy Gardening!
Tarot Card of the Day: The Seven of Pentacles:
As we prepare to reap what we have sown, and collect the object of our labors the opportunity to examine our true intentions and our current situation is at hand. The Seven of Pentacles reveals to us that through hard work and determination we can nurture our thoughts into material fruit, however, in the moment we are not quite ready to collect the harvest as our labors have not fully ripened. It is often in this moment of re-evaluation that our true intent becomes realized and the pesky pests that lie in our past attachments emerge from the subconscious to gnaw on our potential. Fear of success, is a vague and elusive rat. To the unrealized mind this is the moment when things mysteriously begin to fall apart, right before the harvest, when our burgeoning ideas and self-confidence begins to falter and the weeds of doubt and the vermin of fear destroy our co-creative efforts. Onipa’a, be steadfast for the harvest is at hand! The Seven of Pentacles asks us to stop and pause to re-examine your reasons for working so hard and whether it’s the path you truly should be following. Re-affirm your commitment to your own happiness and take the next step as the pay off is right around the corner. Be weary of letting your fears stop you from receiving what you have worked so hard to achieve.
Leaning upon his hoe, a farmer pauses to regard his efforts which are flowering abundantly on the vine, soon the flowers or The Seven Pentacles will transform into fruit and the time of reaping will begin. To the Ancient Hawaiians the vine growing Ipu was tended to with great care and skill. Flies and maggots would often overwhelm the blossoms impeding pollination and the slightest jostling or bruising of the young gourds would cause the fruit to rot. The vigilant gardener keeps the pests at bay so that verdant ideas may bear fruit.
- The first grouping will consist of Coastal plants. Vegetation that voyagers might have seen upon reaching the Hawaiian shoreline, plants such as ‘ilima and hinahina.
- The second grouping will focus on Canoe Plants that were brought to Hawai’i by the islands’ first settlers, such as hala, ‘ulu, coconut, and kalo.
- And the lastly the Native Dry Forest Plants; recreating theoretically, how Hawai’i’s forests might have looked like, in ancient times.
From a hedge witch perspective it will be interesting to see what medicinal plants will be included in the exhibit and I’m particularly interested in the Native Dry Forest Plants.