I recently returned to Maui, the land where many Indigenous Mind residencies took place. During residencies in Maui, we were immersed in the spiritual power of the Hawaiian land and were blessed to participate in Hawaiian cultural ceremonies.
Maui was also the place where we received teachings from esteemed Hawaiian elders, including Auntie Mahealani Poe Poe and Mr. Hale Makua. Auntie Poe Poe and Mr. Makua generously shared their cultural wisdom to encourage the recovery of our own indigenous minds and to support our personal journeys of ancestral remembrance.
When I arrived in Maui last month, I took some time to go to the ocean to cleanse myself to prepare for ceremony. At this time I also made offerings to the spirits of the land, asking permission to once again walk upon this sacred and beautiful landscape. I gave thanks to the ocean and to the whales, the gentle giants of the sea, who were at this moment breeding in the warm waters right off the Maui coast.
Years ago, when I first began my biannual trips to Maui, whales began to frequently appear in my dreams. Not only were whales a big part of the Hawaiian landscape, but also they were the aumakua or ancestral guardian of the family of Mr. Makua. I often believed that the whale visitations in my dreams were also messages from Mr. Makua himself, especially after he died unexpectedly in a car accident in 2004.
My first night in Maui, to my surprise and delight, I dreamed of whales. In my dream, I was on a cliff overlooking the ocean, watching gigantic whales swim by. I was struck by their magnificent presence and was overwhelmed with emotion. I was not only joyful but deeply moved to be close to such sacred and wise beings.
The next day, I woke early and headed to the beach. I sprinkled my tobacco offering to the ocean and gave thanks for such a meaningful dream. I thanked the whales and Mr. Makua for welcoming me on my very first night back in Maui.
The waking world is the dream world
Auntie Poe Poe taught us much about dreams. She would talk about how the seemingly solid boundaries between the waking world and the dream world were only created by our minds. In reality, the boundaries between these two states of being were much more fluid and permeable than we have been taught in western culture.
On one of my last days in Maui I went on a whale watch with four friends. The day was beautiful, sunny and warm. As our raft sailed to the open ocean we could see pods of whales splashing in the distance. As we journeyed out to sea , we silently voiced our prayers and gave our offerings to the great mother ocean and to the humpback whales swimming near us.
About thirty minutes later, our captain had spotted a pod of whales and parked the boat about one hundred yards away. The law states that no boat can intentionally move closer than one hundred yards to a whale. However, as we sat there, to our surprise the whales swam up to our raft.
For about twenty minutes, the pod of about four whales surrounded our boat. They circled the boat, swam beneath us and rose magnificently to the surface. Only a few feet away from us we saw enormous tails, waving fins and even their whale eyes and faces. We were greeted by their celestial song as they rose to the surface of the water and released air through their spouts.
During the entire encounter, exactly as I had dreamed less than a week before, I was flooded with emotion. I wept with awe and joy to be so physically close to these magnificent beings. The random assortment of human beings on the boat that day were also united in collective joy.
Later we were told by the first mate that what we had experienced with the whales that day was very rare and unusual. He said that he himself had been out on the water hundreds of times and encounters like this took place very infrequently.
I am grateful for the embodied encounter in waking reality of my whale dream. I am thankful to have experienced the universe being intelligent, alive and communicating with me in both dreaming and waking states. This experience is the state of indigenous mind, and when you’re in it, it is, as my mentor Apela Colroado states, “is both peaceful and electrifyingly alive.”
All My Relations.
Colorado, Apela, “Nine Distinctions of Indigenous Science”