Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Kumulipo

At  the time that turned the heat of the earth 
At the time that the heavens turned and changed 
At the time that the light of the sun was subdued 
To cause light to break forth 
At the time of the night of Makali'i  (winter)   
Then began the slime which established the earth 
The source of deepest darkness 
Of the depths of darkness, of the depths of darkness 
Of the darkness of the sun, in the depth of night, It is night
So night is born.

The chant above is the beginning of a two thousand line creation chant called the KumulipoThe Kumulipo or source of life is an ancient Hawaiian chant, consisting of 2,077 lines traditionally chanted by one person over six hours. The Kumulipo chant records the sequence of creation of the aumakua (ancestral-family spirits) - and the Kumulipo symbol shows the sequence of the creation of the universe, leading to what physicists now call the "Big Bang". It reflects the theories about the origins of the cosmos and life on this planet and provides a concept of world order...reminding all of us about the core relationship people have with earth and how to live harmoniously.

The Kumulipo not only follows the evolutionary progression of living creatures from the oceans to the land, but also illustrates how the oceans are an integral part of air, land, weather, and of plants and animals found everywhere. In addition, the Kumulipo reminds us that the oceans are a source for many things beyond those of economic or transportation value. The Kumulipo describes how the oceans are also a source of health, providing a variety of medicines for physical and emotional well being, as well as serving as a source for cleansing, healing and nourishing the spirit, and for learning the ways of nature. 

The Kumulipo is divided into two different time periods. The first of these is called "po"; this is the age of the spirit world. Everything is still in darkness, and it is not clear if the earth exists or if the events described occur in some other, transcendental place. During this age, the lower life forms come to be, and the chant depicts the concept of life going through stages similar to the development of a new-born child. One form of matter changes into another leading to the existence of early mammals. 

The second time period, called "ao", begins with the coming of light and  the gods who husband the changing of animals into humans. Evolution is now of one form of life into another. Beginning with the image of a god (tiki), the world of living men and women explodes on a living earth. This is also the time when the light of reason dawns. Life can now cope on its own, and, in the complex form of humans, it begins to act otherwise than from impulse. Then the genealogy of people continues on into the late 1700's when the chant is spoken to the last divine child born who can be traced back to the very beginning, to a time when gods were still on earth and the first human was born. 

The last time the full Kumulipo is known to have been solemnly recited, was in 1789. This was in honor of Captain Cook, who was thought to be the god Lono returning to Hawaii. 

(I don't know if Maukie will do it on your computer, but on mine, he sits and listens to every word as if he understands.)


  1. Wow, that's neat! And Maukie is such an intelligent cyber-cat!

  2. Beautiful...absolutely beautiful chanting...

    Unfortunately, we western cultures tend to be a bit pompous in this regard...if I remember correctly, we did it to the Native Americans also...

  3. this is wonderful and sometimes i'm amazed at how correct the ancient people where, i wish i could be this close to nature again

  4. Judy took the words right out of my mouth. :)

  5. I feel like an idjut.
    Can't figure out how to shut your music off so I can hear the chant.
    My brain is fried. :0)