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Kahuna o Maka Hawaiian Awa Ceremonies

The Root of Happiness

By Jessica U’ilani Brazil, LCSW, RYT

Awa [also known as kava] is a plant that is called the “root of happiness” according to Hawaiian culture and has commonly been found in sacred ceremonies and for purposes such easing tension and pain reduction due to its gentle sedative, anesthetic, and euphoriant properties. In ceremony, it is mindfully and delicately prepared by a Kahuna, which is similar to a Shaman or Medicine Man/Woman for the purpose of creating an open-heart space.

Shamanism and ceremony have become quite popularized in recent years. You may have noticed a wave among studios and temples announcing sound baths, ceremonies, and special events with Shamans or Spiritual Teachers guiding participants into a spiritual experience. What is this all about? Is it different from religion? Why are so many people gravitating toward these experiences? Let’s begin by defining some terminology.

Shamanism is a relationship-based practice that may also be considered a form of medicine that involves a practitioner’s engagement in reaching an altered state of consciousness in order to perceive and interact with [what is widely believed to be, or is regarded as,] the spirit world, the unseen, the immaterial world and her intuition. A shaman’s role is to repair the tears in the fabric of existence and channel these energies into the human conscious world, fulfilling their role as a medium for our conscious environment and the perceived spirit world; for a purpose.

A ceremony is a formal activity that is performed by a Kahu which means caretaker, honored attendant, Shaman, or Leader for an important private, public or religious purpose that is completed with respect, order, and ritual. Analogous examples may include a wedding, blessing, baptism, graduation, etc. Ritual is a series of actions performed according to a prescribed order and is important for ceremony. When these come together with a common intention, a powerful energy is created.

Hawaiian culture is rich and alive with ceremony, ritual, and sacred teachings that are designed to cultivate a healthy relationship between people and their environment. Some of those teachings are held in high regard not meant to be freely shared while others are brought about through the Kahuna which means expert in any field or discipline, a person highly regarded in their art form, which may be loosely interpreted as a form of Shamanism.

Ceremony can bring people back in touch with their sacredness and their sovereignty. This is important for all cultures and communities as it cultivates healing, accesses higher purposes, and has historically been a medium for bridging communities from conflict into harmony. This can be seen in many indigenous cultures prior to the establishment of external regulatory bodies. These ceremonies empower people to take ownership of their own journeys through recognizing their limitations and possibilities, and in doing so, become actualized to a greater purpose. A collective purpose. This creates harmony. This builds cooperative communities. This bridges our diversity. What a powerful way of solving differences and in creating healing experiences! Back into the Root of Happiness.

The Mindful Living Group hosts Hawaiian Awa & Shamanic Sound Ceremonies each new and full moon with Kale Kaalekahi & Jess U’ilani Brazil to invite harmony and healing with The Root of Happiness into our local and global community through our shared gifts of presence and the wisdom and guidance of the Aloha spirit.

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