April 20, 2011 2 Comments
On Monday morning I woke a little before 6 a.m. to find this ample moon not yet set before the sunrise. A full moon like this one in its sixteenth day is what Hawaiians call Mahealani. While Western culture typically sees the moon through the four quarters of the synodic month, the Hawaiian Moon Calendar assigns 30 unique names to each of the phases of the moon. Mahealani, the third night of fullness following Akua and Hoku, signifies a good time for planting and fishing.
Not only was it the basis of time keeping, but the moon was also essential to scheduling the daily lives of ancient Hawaiians. Each of the 30 phases guided daily activities in determining when and what to plant, what to fish, who to worship and when to rest. Much like the Farmer’s Almanac of old, the Hawaiian Moon Calendar guided the success or failure of planting particular crops. It also served as an ancient Department of Natural Resources by protecting certain species of fish when they were spawning. The wisdom and teachings of the lunar calendar, essential to the survival of the Hawaiian people, reflect observations made over generations. The Hawaiian Moon Calendar not only describes the cycle of the moon as observed in the night sky, but also the correlating patterns identified in the land, sea and among living things on Earth.
Even today, many local farmers plant by the phases of the moon, believing certain days favor growing conditions for particular crops. No doubt, under the glow of Monday’s Mahealani morning moon, some on this island were waking to a day of planting root vegetables such as taro and sweet potatoes.
Is it possible that while living in an age of expansive information and interconnectivity, we have grown less informed and less connected to our world’s natural cycles? Somewhere between the ancient and modern, there is much to be learned.