Beloved Land

Aloha Aine- Beloved Land, watercolor and India ink illustrations on accordion-fold art journal.

One morning, I woke with the word “Kiluaea” on my lips. Unclear about why the word was so prominent in my thoughts, I decided to explore it artistically- hoping to get some meaning from the images that emerged.

Kiluaea is the most active volcano on the big island of Hawai’i.  I’ve walked the black sand beach and stood on a road where cooled lava was so deep that it almost covered a stop sign!  I saw the paths lava scorched on its way to the sea. I even hiked to the top of Kilauea where I saw cracked earth with plumes of smoke rising up… otherworldly! 

I thought about the volcano’s natural cycle of life, death, and rebirth.  There is no judgement around any part of the cycle.  It just is.

Those of us on a path of learning and growth recognize these phases in our own natural cycle.  Transformation always includes creation, destruction, and re-creation.

I reflected on Pele, goddess of fire, volcanoes, and the creator of the Hawaiian islands.  She traveled from island to island, chased by her jealous sister, Namakaokaha’i, a goddess of the sea.

Depending on what version of the story you hear, her sister’s justification for attacking Pele varies.  In the version I chose to explore, Pele builds a fire on an island, only to have Namakaokaha’i extinguish the flame. Some say this is how the islands formed, beginning with Kauai and ending when Pele finds the place she calls home.

Eventually, Pele settles on the island of Hawai’i (the last to be formed in the archipelago), making her home in the crater of Kiluaea.  Here, she has the freedom to build her fire in peace. Lava flows and eventually meets the sea.  And we know who is waiting there to quench the fiery flow!

But Namakaokaha’i fails to put out Pele’s fire.  Any attempt only cools the lava, creating more land where Pele and other beings can live, surrounded by beauty.

After a period of upheaval and destruction, new life forms.  And the cycle begins again.

I found this project meaningful on so many levels.  Ultimately, I walked away with three truths.

  1.  Don’t let anyone put out my fire.
  2.  Love all aspects of myself- even the less-than-perfect bits.
  3. Each of us is “the beloved land”.

May your fire burn ever bright, dear reader!