The Way of Pōnō | The Concept of Pō

This lesson comes from the teachings of Kumu Hula Mark Keali’i Ho’omalu, a well known and innovative Hula master whose Halau is located in Oakland, California. This lesson is taught in mo’olelo, a sacred learning circle, and is usually accompanied to the beat of traditional Pahu drums. It is a soulful experience to be in his presence … his Mana is extraordinary!

Q: What is Pō?

A: Pō is described as Light or Darkness. In the early times of Hawai’i, the people measured time on a lunar cycle. The Hawaiian day actually began at Midnight. Hence, the days of the week were named Pō’akahi (Monday, or first day), Pō’alua (Tuesday, or second day), and so on.

Q: What does Pō beyond the horizon mean?

A: Pō also means obscurity, or things not understood. Mythically, it was a time of the Divide, a time of the Gods. For some, it is a sacred period for ancestral connections.

Q: Where is Pō?

A:  Pō is beyond the horizon. It is the last step to destiny. It is a tangled web of mystery no one can escape. It is the realm of the unconscious mind.  Āʻo means Light, and that which belongs to the living. Pō and Āʻo are just two sides of the same coin, a coin we all carry. Neither exists without the other … and that’s a fact!

Q: What does “beyond the horizon” mean?

A: It means the limits to one’s own understanding. Many people think I push the boundaries, which also defines one’s horizons. What do you think? I don’t think so … but it may be that I am on the other side of another person’s boundaries. I would rather not limit myself to another’s beliefs and fears.

Q: Where do Hawaiian spirits live?

A: Hawaiian spirits live in those of us that are Hawaiian. It is a mindset. It is the idea of being Hawaiian and identifying with things Hawaiian. It is the Hawaiian consciousness. It does not matter where we call Home … Hawai’i is enough when it is in the heart … and being conscious of that keeps the spirit of Hawai’i alive.

Q: If you’re not in Hawai’i, how do you mālāma ʻāina?

A:  Mālāma ʻāina refers to the caring for the ancestral lands. It means to tend and maintain its well-being. However, our ancestral grounds does not necessarily mean the ground, or Earth we walk on. It also means your Self, what we consider the living land. You can trace your ancestry through genealogical records and now, thanks to science, you can trace your lineage through your DNA. It now seems that in your bones lies the traces of your ancestors. You, the living Earth … it is this ʻĀina that you should care for most vigilantly because … if you mālāma your ʻāina your ʻĀina will take care of you.

Q: As a Hawaiian, where do you go after life?

A: I go to Pō. With so many cultural beliefs, the obvious is overlooked. Hope, Faith and Trust are all factors of belief and it all takes consciousness. They seem to be the ideals of comfort, thoughtful ways to accept the inevitable. You can change your religious beliefs, but you cannot change who you are … you are the descendant of your ancestors, and the ancestor of your descendants. Hawaiian spirits go to Pō. When you sleep, your unconscious mind is allowed to venture with your ancestors. It is then that you are most capable of connecting with yourself. But, even then, we sometimes become afraid of what we dream, yet we are the creators of our dreams … so why be afraid?

These are the obscurities of Pō!

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