• Corina Ray Bogart

Invoking the Goddess: Celestial Reflections of Hawaiian Cultural Evolution

Archetypal astrology and the participatory Hawaiian worldview complement each other: both recognize the universe as a fundamentally interconnected matrix, intelligently informed and inherently creative, expressing itself in fractal patterns of deep meaning and coherency. Herein lies a portal to a cocreative relationship with an inherently intelligent universe. By utilizing an orb of 15º to delineate the start and end dates for conjunctions and oppositions, and a 10º orb for quadrature alignments, the cyclical periods of activated planetary archetypes are shown to be woven into the interplay of death and rebirth, destruction and metamorphosis, the sacred and the profane. Peering through the archetypal lens, the cyclical transformative principle of the cosmos threads its way through the history of the Hawaiian Kingdom, revealing an underlying current of dynamic evolutionary consciousness.

Deep lapis waters of the Pacific Ocean stretch into infinity, dramatically punctuated by onyx and rugged, razor-sharp rock. A lineage of extinct, dormant, and active volcanoes composes the archipelago of contrasts: home to the erosion of time and the birth of fresh land, verdant jungles comingle with deserts of mesquite, and opaline oceans turn into turbulent tides. The Hawaiian Islands are a geological testament to the diverse spectrum of the cosmos. Rooted in an ensouled understanding of the universe, traditional Hawaiian cosmology perceives reality as inherently sacred, where the landscape is deity, ancestor, and sustainer of life. There is no separation between the realm of the material and that of spirit. Archetypal astrology complements the participatory Hawaiian worldview, recognizing the universe as a fundamentally interconnected matrix, intelligently informed and inherently creative, expressing itself in fractal patterns of deep meaning and coherency (Tarnas, 2006). Herein lies a portal to a cocreative relationship with an inherently intelligent universe. Building upon the groundbreaking astrological research of Richard Tarnas, illuminated by his paramount work Cosmos and Psyche: Intimations of a New World View, this brief exploration of planetary transits in modern Hawaiian history attempts to demonstrate the significant archetypal patterns and defining characteristics diachronically elucidated in the past 200 years. By utilizing an orb of 15º to delineate the start and end dates for conjunctions and oppositions, and a 10º orb for quadrature alignments, the cyclical periods of activated planetary archetypes are shown to be woven into the interplay of death and rebirth, destruction and metamorphois, the sacred and the profane. Peering through the archetypal lens, the cyclical transformative principle of the cosmos threads its way through the history of the Hawaiian Kingdom, revealing an underlying current of dynamic evolutionary consciousness.

The End of an Era

Kamehameha the Great, the king who synchronistically conquered and united the historically warring Hawaiian Islands, died in 1819 (Haley, 2014)— a year marked by revolutionary changes for the entire Hawaiian Kingdom. The previous year, Saturn entered into a conjunction with Pluto, thereby, squaring the 1817 to 1827 Uranus-Neptune conjunction. The archetypal gestalt of the period is highly characteristic of Saturn-Pluto and Uranus-Neptune axial alignments, where the two conjunctions are multivalently activated by the square relationship. The Promethean principle associated with Uranus prominently manifests as sudden bursts of liberation, rebellion, and cultural breakthrough, creatively combining with the archetypal resonance of Neptune in radical spiritual awakening and the diffusion of culture. The Saturn-Pluto conjunction is discerned as oppositional, palpable tension, the end of an era that collapses in a dissolutive quality harbored by Uranus-Neptune as one culture bleeds into the other.

The dynamic of Saturn-Pluto squaring Uranus-Neptune constellates as a primordial descent into the underworld, a simultaneously spiritual and political act of freedom equally matched by a harrowing loss of sovereign power. The years following 1819 harbor a strong expression toward youthful rebellion against established order indicative of Uranus-Pluto, infused with the mystical quality of Neptune to liberate the population from orthodox structures that are no longer viable. The period is rife with Saturnian, static, hard limitations, boundaries, and rules that are overthrown by the emancipatory, Uranian impulse for change, resulting in a destabilizing dissolution of the traditional culture and religious-political foundation. The visceral archetypal interplay unfolds as the intimations of dialog between the Neptune-Pluto constellation— the dialectic between “Nature and Spirit” (Tarnas, 2006, p. 450), punctuating the beginning of a difficult 200-year cycle of planetary transits for the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi.

A wave of upheaval succeeded the King’s death, destroying ancient laws and prohibitions that ultimately catalyzed mass Protestant conversion, provided the impetus for colonial-settler statehood, and white Christian ascendancy over the indigenous Hawaiian people. The axial alignments of Saturn-Pluto squaring Uranus-Neptune also established the first female claim to Hawaiian authority, marking the collapse of the autocracy and hierarchical religious-political kapu system. After King Kamehameha took his last breath, his most adored consort Kaʻahumanu proclaimed it was her husband’s will that she would jointly rule the kingdom as queen-regent with his son Liholiho (Haley, 2014; Seto Levin, 1968). The established Hawaiian autocracy forbade female leadership, nonetheless, Kaʻahumanu had long desired a position of authority, and she possessed the cunning and courage to revolutionize the religious and political structure. Gradually, Kaʻahumanu replaced the old king’s chiefs with her own compatriots, and swiftly abolished the religious-political system of kapu, paving the way for the first female ruler of the Hawaiian Kingdom as queen-regent. The kapu system was an ancient code of conduct composed of “legal proscriptions sanctioned by religious belief and enforced by the secular power of the political authority” (Seto Levin, 1968). The system’s command was sanctified by the Polynesian gods, universally governing every aspect of Hawaiian society from food consumption to gender roles, and law to spirituality (Seto Levin, 1968). The word kapu holds the multivalent meaning of prohibited, forbidden, taboo, sacred, or holy (Ulukau Hawaiian Electronic Library, n.d.). The kapu’s taboos restricted access— they provided prohibitions restraining behaviors that opposed the holy. Therefore, the kapu is sacred in its own right.

A large population of Native Hawaiians perceived that the influx of foreign traders to the islands illustrated a lack of consequences from the gods for breaking kapu prohibitions concerning the partaking of chiefly foods, and sleeping or eating in the same quarters as the opposite sex (Schulz, 2014). Embodying the Uranian trickster-rebel, Kaʻahumanu requested the late king’s son Liholiho formally to break the kapu by joining Kaʻahumanu and his mother in a mixed-gendered feast (Seto Levin, 1968). Indicating that he would not be participating in Kaʻahumanu’s desecration of the land’s law, Liholiho journeyed to nearby Honokōhau, stepping into his power as the new king by dedicating a new heiau (temple). However, the consecration of the heiau required the ritual recitation of a long and complex prayer without fault. Embodying the Neptunian archetype associated with intoxication and spirituality along with Saturnian negation, Liholiho failed to perform correctly the sacred rites due to an intense inebriation on the rum that flowed abundantly from foreign traders (Haley, 2014). After his unsuccessful attempt to consecrate the heiau, Liholiho continued to ignore Kaʻahumanu’s request to partake of the kapu feast by spending two days with his friends becoming drunk while cruising in a double-mast canoe on the waters outside Kailua. After the wind died down, Kaʻahumanu sent another canoe to tow Liholiho back to Kailua where he proceeded to the public banquet. The successor to the throne ate with the chieftainesses, thereby fracturing the long-held kapu and consenting to the dismantling of the traditional Hawaiian ideological and ritual system (Haley, 2014; Seto Levin, 1968).

The breaking of the kapu was highly contested, and ultimately led to a rebellion headed by Liholiho’s cousin Kekuaokalani. Although, Queen Kaʻahumanu and Liholiho made conciliatory efforts, Kekuaokalani refused to return to Kailua unless the kapu was reinstated, resulting in an armed conflict between the opposing groups. Both forces were approximately equal in number, but the supporters of the Queen were heavily equipped with firearms, and proceeded to victory, claiming the lives of both Kekuaokalani and his wife, and with them died the belief in the efficacy of the gods (Haley, 2014; Seto Levin, 1968). Queen Kaʻahumanu personified the unrelenting Saturn-Pluto drive for power and control, victoriously acquiring vast, and near-absolute authority over the Hawaiian Kingdom in a time of intensified polarity. The Uranus-Pluto square played an exceptionally catalyzing role in the swift uprising against traditional beliefs, utilizing the revolutionary technological acquisition of Western firearms, fused with the Neptunian quality of paradigmatic dissolution. The ancestral ways fell without a new cosmology to take its place— the king was dead, the kapu perforated, and the polarized Hawaiian Kingdom was left in a state of spiritual liminality, on the cusp of complete societal and political revolution.

In 1820, Saturn transitioned beyond the 15º orb of influence in conjunction to Pluto, leaving the Uranus-Neptune conjunction to square Pluto alone. The American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) left Boston in 1819 during the previous Saturn-Pluto conjunction with the intention of converting the polytheistic Polynesian society to the monotheistic faith in one supreme Lord. The ABCFM sent Protestant missionaries to the Hawaiian Islands from 1819 to 1848 and were wildly successful in their pursuit of evangelizing the indigenous peoples into the Christian church (Schulz, 2014). O’Neal (2009) describes the New England Puritan project as a “social utopian experiment intended and designed to foster proper religious attitudes, right beliefs, right practices, and most importantly, to nurture and midwife the all-important regeneration experience known as conversion” (p. 79). The Uranus-Neptune archetypal dynamic can be recognized as the Protestant evangelizing of the Hawaiian people: a sudden shift in perspective that ushered the Polynesian culture into a “new apprehension of divine reality and purpose” (O’Neal, 2009, p. 87). Within five years of arriving on the islands, a dozen chiefs sought Christian baptism and church membership, including Queen Kaʻahumanu (Schulz, 2014). In 1825, the year following her conversion to Protestantism, Kaʻahumanu took the name Elizabeth, derived from Hebrew Elishebha, meaning “God is an oath” (Haley, 2014; Online Etymology Dictionary, (n.d.).

Tarnas (2006) describes Jupiter and Uranus axial alignments as a “punctuation in the continuing cycle” of planetary transits (p. 349). The addition of Jupiter in opposition to Uranus-Neptune forming a tension-filled T-square to Pluto emphasized the utopian, religious movement, the “epochal shift of cosmological vision,” and accentuated the “descent of the Holy Spirit’s Promethean fire” (p. 360 & 375). Recorded in his published account on his twenty-year period “rescuing heathen nations” by the teachings of Christ, Hiram Bingham (1848) recounts the 19th century spiritual fertility of the Hawaiian Islands: “Rarely has a missionary a more favorable opportunity to exert an influence on a whole nation, than was here afforded in the circle of the highest chiefs of these islands” (p. 149). The Protestant missionaries’ fruitful conversion of the Hawaiian people is characteristic of the grandiose Jupitarian expansion, resulting in the successful acceptance of new spiritual frontiers associated with the Uranus-Neptune archetypal complex.

Within the same year of Queen Kaʻahumanu’s conversion to Protestantism from the ancient Hawaiian nature-based spirituality, Kapiʻolani was the first high chieftainess to sponsor a Christian church (Haley, 2014). The Plutonic principle impels and empowers the archetypal phenomenon of Uranus-Neptune elucidated in Kapiʻolani’s dramatic demonstration of her new faith in Christianity. In November 1824, the chieftainess made an arduous 60-mile pilgrimage to the active volcano Kīlauea. In front of an enormous entourage, Kapiʻolani challenged the primordial forces of Pele, the goddess of the volcano, of wrath and fury, destruction and regeneration, who consumed the “offerings of her worshippers and devised destruction to those who long neglected her or failed to respect her prerogatives” (Kalakua, 1888). In the Polynesian pantheon, Pele is the creator of new land by means of her fiery outpourings of molten rock and is therefore recognized as an incarnation of Papahānaumoku, the Earth Mother. She represents the destructive and equally positive evolutionary qualities of the Plutonic archetype through the revegetation of the land after being violently devoured and simultaneously created by Pele (Hoʻomanawanui, 2014).

Kapiʻolani stood at the edge of Halema’uma’u, a deep gouge in the Earth’s black crust, overlooking a lake of boiling lava, spitting fumes of sulfurous gas, rising and roiling, the formidable home of Pele, the fire goddess. In her hand she held the sacred ‘ōhelo berries which one must first humbly make an offering to Pele before consumption. In a grand Uranus-Pluto gesture of rebellion in the name of her newfound Christian God (Neptune), Kapiʻolani defiled Pele and broke the kapu (prohibition) by eating the ōhelo berries. “Jehovah is my God,” she proclaimed. “He kindled these fires. I fear not Pele” (Hawaiʻi Volcanoes & Haleakala National Parks, 1953). She then proceeded to climb barefoot, over the sharp, uneven terrain, 500-feet down into the caldera where she stood at Pele’s lake of fire, taunting the vengeful goddess to smite her. Much to everyone’s surprise, Kapiʻolani climbed out from Halemaʻumaʻu unscathed (Haley, 2014). The word pele is not only the name of the volcanic Hawaiian goddess, but also denotes lava flow, the volcano, and the eruption process (Ulukau Hawaiian Electronic Library, n.d.). There is no delineation between Pele the entity and pele the geological processes: the landscape is a physical manifestation of the divine. The worship of departed ancestors and the continued, ever-present evidence of the volcanic deity’s power was no match for Kapiʻolani’s insurgence against the Hawaiian orthodox (Kalakua, 1888). Standing on the edge of Pele’s virulent and scathing pit of churning lava, Kapiʻolani elucidated that she could break the laws of the land without consequence: the sacred was not of the volcano, but resided in the heavens. The Hawaiian deities were not, in fact, all powerful— they no longer held the titanic and numinous powers of the spiritual landscape.

Extraordinarily similar to Kaʻahumanu’s radical break of the gender-specific food kapu, Kapiʻolani’s religious and political rebellion was simultaneously liberatory for numerous individuals constrained by the law’s copious restrictions, and also fostered the upheaval of the traditional lifestyle, forging a path for white-Christian ascendancy and the development of the settler-state of Hawaiʻi. When Kapiʻolani exiled the goddess in the Halemaʻumaʻu caldera, she metaphorically banished the feminine spirit of nature, plunging ancestral and embodied wisdom into the Plutonic underworld. The gravity of Kapiʻolani’s historic act of defiance toward the traditional kapu system was chronicled by Alfred Lord Tennyson (1891) in his poem (written during the 1880 to 1905 Neptune-Pluto conjunction) titled Kapiolani:

When from the terrors of Nature a people have fashion'd and worship a Spirit of Evil, Blest be the Voice of the Teacher who calls to them, ʻSet yourselves free!’ … Island heroine, Kapiolani, Clomb the mountain, and flung the berries, and dared the Goddess, and freed the people Of Hawa-i-ee! … Kapiolani ascended her mountain, Baffled her priesthood, Broke the Taboo, Dipt to the crater, Called on the Power adored by the Christian, and crying, “I dare her, let Peelé avenge herself”! Into the flame-billow dash’d the berries, and drove the demon from Hawa-i-ee (p. 889-90)

The instinctual, libidinal realm of Pluto was cast into exile as “the terrors of Nature.” The goddess of land and fire was reduced to a “demon” and vilified as a “Spirit of Evil,” a force that must be eradicated and replaced by the purity of the Christian faith in the one true God. Tennyson describes an exorcism: the Plutonic forces of nature concomitantly fueled the Promethean impulse to rise from autocratic traditions while banishing the very ancient and primal forces that propelled the spiritual emancipation. The Uranus-Pluto archetype constellates in Tennyson’s poem in the lines “Set yourselves free,” and “Broke the Taboo,” where the Uranian emancipatory compulsion is fueled by Pluto, and breaks the Saturnian kapu (law). However, the Plutonic archetype also inhabits the very realm of the kapu (taboo), thereby, Pluto fueled its own repression.

Kapiʻolani descended down into Pele’s volcanic subterranean lair, (Neptune-Pluto) driving the “demon from Hawa-i-ee” in an act of spiritual liberation (Uranus-Neptune-Pluto), and obtained the quality of spiritual heights promised by Christianity (Uranus-Neptune). By desiring to actualize her most grand spiritual pursuits, Kapiʻolani cast away the primordial fires of the nature-based worship of Pele, turning away from revering the goddess in order to worship the patriarchal god of the Christian West. The Judeo-Christian worldview fortified the spiritual revolution, collapsing the indigenous worship of the goddess into a definition of defilement, of the taboo, sacrilegious, savage, and unholy. A new kapu (restriction/taboo) is delineated: a kapu placed upon the aboriginal, ensouled cosmology.

The Hawaiian Kingdom witnessed the highest heights and the lowest lows, the deepest instinctual depths opposed to the loftiest aspirations of the spirit during the period coinciding within the 1818 to 1821 Saturn-Pluto conjunction squared to the Uranus-Neptune conjunction, and that of the 1814 to 1829 Uranus-Neptune conjunction squaring Pluto. The Uranus-Neptune-Saturn-Pluto complex laid the groundwork for the development of a colonial settler mindset toward the Hawaiian Islands, a colonial mentality that has had a long-lasting impact upon the nation’s indigenous culture and political sovereignty (Schulz, 2014). As elucidated by Rick Tarnas (2006), “Each new alignment of a cycle appears to correlate with a highly specific sense of resonance with earlier eras, historical phenomena, and cultural figures informed by the same archetypal gestalt” (p. 399). The Hawaiian Nation underwent epochal cultural reformation that continued diachronistically to unfold in succeeding planetary transits of the same archetypal proclivity. There was an evident Uranian revolution of traditional female roles that ironically, led to the acceptance of the Senex masculine patriarchy, severing the spiritual connection to the powerful, Plutonic, female deity. The Hawaiian perception of reality radically metamorphosed: Protestant values that suppressed the goddess and Plutonic libido acquired dominance in the form of monogamy in leu of polyamory, “modest” Western clothing replaced the traditional malō (loincloth) or pāʻū (skirt), the Hawaiian language shifted into the English tongue, generations of orality to the written word, and the sensual pleasures joyously celebrated by Hawaiians were shamed, denigrated, and repressed. Neptunian idealism dawned a new spiritual horizon of Christianity and the cultural boundaries between Native Hawaiians and Protestants blurred into dissolution.

Disintegrating into the Imperial Empire

The spiritual revolution that coincided within the previous Uranus-Neptune-Pluto square continued to ripple into the highly charged turning of the 20th century. A tidal wave of dissolution overtook the sovereignty of the Pacific Islands; between the years of 1893 to 1902, during the 1880 to 1904 Neptune-Pluto square, the United States of America seized Hawaiʻi, Guam, the Philippines, and American Samoa (Smith, 2019). Pacific Island sovereignty disintegrated into a radically growing American imperialist empire, enacting the Plutonic and Neptunian biological and instinctual drive for territorial takeover. Neptune transitioned from its conjunction with Uranus to form a conjunction with Pluto from 1880 to 1904. The previous Pluto-Neptune square’s dialectic between Nature and Spirit manifests as the conversion from an embodied, place-based spirituality into the monotheistic Christian faith. Contrastingly, the Pluto-Neptune conjunction illustrates a gradual migration away from a harmonic self-subsistence society into an extractive, capitalist economy.

Under the rule of King Kamehameha, the Hawaiian people began trading highly equitable sandalwood for foreign goods, albeit it was not long before crippling debt caused the sandalwood forests to be decimated in a fervent act of clearcutting. The whaling industry quickly filled the economic void and it too exceeded its sustainable bounds. The traditional Hawaiian land tenure system ahupuaʻa was eradicated, private ownership of property followed, and sugar cultivation was able to flourish, rapidly becoming important for the islands’ economic viability (Banner, 2005; Rhodes, 1993; Schulz, 2014). The land used for sugarcane agriculture significantly increased, and susequently, the white businessmen who dominated the industry desired more power and control in the Hawaiian government (Borch, 2016). The Protestant missionaries also grew desirous of political influence as they unexpectedly started raising their families on the islands. Their new aim was to assure the best lives possible for their minority children (Schulz, 2014).

In 1887, after King David Kalākaua attempted further to dilute the impinging power of the businessmen and Christian missionaries, the foreigners took action against the King (Borch, 2016). American statesman and Protestant Sanford B. Dole lead the newly formed Hawaiian League, forcing King Kalākaua to sign a new constitution that concurrently reduced his powers as a sovereign monarch while increasing the authority of the white, foreign legislature. The new “Bayonet Constitution,” named by its threat of violence to the King if not signed, expanded the right to vote, and the right to be elected into the legislature to wealthy, educated, non-citizens living in Hawaiʻi, while simultaneously disenfranchising many resident Asian populations and Native Hawaiians by requiring land ownership and literacy. After King Kalākaua passed away in 1891, his sister, Liliʻuokalani succeeded him on the thrown, becoming Hawaiʻi’s last ruling monarch. Passionate about reinstating her people’s rights, the Queen proposed a revision to the Bayonet Constitution in order to restore her powers as a monarch and extend voting rights to Native Hawaiians. In response to Queen Liliʻuokalani’s steadfast revolt against the impinging influence of foreigners in her nation’s political milieu, thirteen American businessmen and sugar plantation owners formed a “Committee of Safety” to counteract the Queen’s efforts by organizing a coup, and overthrowing the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi (Borch, 2016).

The Saturn-Neptune archetype amplified with the sudden, destabilizing, upheaving Uranian-Plutonic energies, creating a dynamic polarization. Contradictory to the Uranus-Pluto inclination for liberation and emancipation, Saturn opposing Pluto presented a serious gravity to the astrological atmosphere, imposing limitation and constriction. Political and social revolution characteristic to the Uranus-Pluto archetype amalgamized with the Saturn-Pluto motif of “organized violence and oppression” (Tarnas, 2006, p. 209). It was a hard, sober reality pitted against the idealized dream. On January 17, 1893, the United States Marines assembled at Queen Liliʻuokalani’s ʻIolani Palace in Honolulu to support a small militia of sugar businessmen. Wanting to avoid violence, Liliʻuokalani peacefully surrendered her democratically elected, independent government of Hawaiʻi (Goodyear-Kaʻopua, 2014; Borch, 2016). The Committee of Safety swiftly established a provisional government, electing Sanford Dole as president. However, United States President Grover Cleveland rejected the legitimacy of the Dole government, and insisted Queen Liliʻuokalani be restored as the rightful ruler of Hawaiʻi. Nevertheless, Dole and his compatriots refused to relinquish their newfound power, and alternatively pronounced the Hawaiian Islands as the Republic of Hawaiʻi.

Six months later, a failed counter-coup of loyalists to the Hawaiian throne created the impetus for a year-long imprisonment of Queen Liliʻuokalani. Eventually, Liliʻuokalani was cohersed into signing a formal declaration abdicating her throne, and recognizing the foreign rule of the Republic of Hawaiʻi as the nation’s legitimate government. Although highly contested by Native Hawaiians and their Queen, due to the archipelago’s highly strategic military position, Hawaiʻi was illegally annexed by the United States. A joint resolution for the annexation of the Hawaiian Islands was signed into law by President William McKinley on July 7, 1898, and a ceremony declared as “Annexation Day” was held on August 12, 1898: the Hawaiian flag was lowered at the royal palace in Honolulu, and the American flag was raised in its place (Borch, 2016; Haley, 2014). Thereafter, roughly 1.8 million acres of Hawaiian national land were seized by the U.S.; today, not a single acre has been returned to the Hawaiian Kingdom’s sovereign control. The land of the indigenous people was stolen, their culture almost irradicated, and their histories were white-washed and fabricated through the American imperialist lens (Goodyear-KaʻOpua, 2014). Hawaiʻi is a prolonged, illegal military occupation and continues to be an on-going dispute concerning indigenous soveriegnty.

In the previous section, the emancipatory Promethean impulse subverted the old Saturnian kapu system while Uranus-Neptune squared the Saturn-Pluto conjunction, providing a sense of Uranian liberatory celebration to the awakening of a new spiritual, cultural, and political era for the Hawaiian Kingdom. As the planetary alignment cycle progressed, Neptune-Pluto in opposition to Saturn-Uranus, the hard aspects associated with Saturn transits were propelled by the power of Pluto, and exacerbated by Uranian tension. The matriarch-led and indigenous sovereign Hawaiian Nation was illegally overthrown by an imposing, patriarchial outside force. The period is wrought with dark, militant, social and political contraction; a profound transformation toward conservativism, capitalism, and anthropocentrically ascendant ideology. The Uranus-Pluto compulsion for freedom is apparent in the Hawaiian countercoup intending to liberate themselves from the impinging forgein rule, however, Saturn terminates their valiant efforts. The Hawaiian people were met with failure: the Saturn-Neptune complex was expressed in the tragedy of the foreign coup staged against the last Hawaiian Queen, and the kingdom succumed to an organized militant oppression.

Invoking the Goddess

On the island of Hawaiʻi, the towering dormant shield volcano Mauna Kea is a physical representation of the connection between the material world and that of the heavens (Goodyear-Kaʻopua, 2017). Mauna Kea is the epitome of the Hawaiian worldview, a natural temple far beyond human authority to that of the gods embedded in the Hawaiian people’s very genealogy. The Hawaiian Creation Chant, the epic Kumulipo, is an example of an ancient genealogical prayer linking the royal family to distant relatives, primary gods, plants, and animals, to the landscape and the very stars illuminating the heavens (Beckwith, 1951). The mountain Mauna Kea is the puka (umbilical cord) connecting the Earth Mother Papahanauoku to the heavens Sky Father Wakea, the maternal to the paternal, the volcanic creative force of Pele to that of the Cosmos. The cinder cones, mist, snow, and stone are all regarded as divine deities, physical renderings of nonhuman ancestors coalescing to describe an interwoven nature-based cosmology (Goodyear-Kaʻopua, 2017). Rising nearly 14,000 feet above the ocean’s surface, Mauna Kea has been proclaimed the ideal location for the 1.4 billion dollar internationally sponsored Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT), the largest proposed optical system to probe the universe for knowledge, discovery, and understanding (Goodyear-Kaʻopua, 2017). Years of contestation has exploded into a highly charged standoff: indigenous land, cultural rights, and ecological wellbeing against the ritual of modern hegemonic science derivative of entrenched colonial patterning.

Mauna Kea is part of the corpus of lands seized from the Hawaiian Kingdom in the illegal 1898 annexation of Hawaiʻi during the 1896 to 1907 Saturn-Uranus planetary conjunction opposite the Neptune-Pluto conjunction. On August 21, 1959, Hawaiʻi became a U.S. state, one year before the 15º orb of the 1960 to 1972 Uranus-Pluto conjunction. As Uranus and Pluto moved into alignment, cultural and environmental displacement of the sacred mountain commenced when the summit cluster cones Puʻu o Kuka Hauʻula were developed for the first modern observatory in 1964 (Maly & Maly, 2005). Shortly thereafter, in 1965, NASA and the University of Hawaiʻi initiated their astronomy program “to exploit the exciting potentialities of the Mauna Kea site for astronomical purposes” (Newell, 1964, p. 1). The University of Hawaiʻi Institute for Astronomy was founded in 1967 and by the assistance of the 1968 Board of Land and Natural Resources, the University aquired a lease to the entire Mauna Kea summit. The landscape of the mountain was significantly and rapidly altered in the name of scientific discovery by a synergistic network of state and scientific institutions. Consequently, today, the revered Mauna Kea is home to 13 telescope complexes (Maly & Maly, 2005).

Clearly evident in the contested battle between the preservation and astronomical development of Mauna Kea is the Promethean compulsion for radical upheaval, innovation, technological breakthrough, and uncharted astronomical heights impelled by an unbridled Dionysian-driven nature. Proponents of the TMT seem to be charged by insurmountable Plutonic forces to fulfill the Promethean urge for new technological advancement in astronomy, aspiring to unleash the secrets of the universe. Conversely, the Plutonic forces also impel the Uranian inclination for revolutionary emancipation and “spiritually inspired political activism” (p. 363). June 24, 2015, during the exact alignment of the 2007 to 2020 Uranus-Pluto square, 750 cultural protectors obstructed the Thirty Meter Telescope groundbreaking ceremony by occupying the Mauna Kea Access Road, a road constructed by the University of Hawaiʻi in 1968 (during the Uranus-Pluto conjunction opposite Saturn) without authorizaion from the landowner the Hawaiian Homeland Lands (Maile, 2009; Halealoha Ayau, 2019). Throughout the protest, the protectors chanted “aloha ‘āina” and “aole TMT,” standing in love for the land to stop the Thirty Meter Telescope (Maile, 2009). Hawaiʻi State Governor David Ige labeled the activists as an “imminent peril to the public health” and “natural resources,” and shortly thereafter, the Governor signed an emergency declaration restricting Mauna Kea access to the public (Lincoln, 2015). Hawaiʻi County Police and the Division of Conservation and Resource Enforcement were deployed to escort TMT construction crews up Mauna Kea’s northern plateau, only to be met by multiple blockade lines of Native Hawaiians protecting the sacred summit. The standoff resulted in the arrest of 12 protectors, and the remission of the titanic telescope’s construction. Between April and September of 2015, the State of Hawaiʻi continued to make 59 arrests, criminalizing peaceful demonstrations of resistance (Maile, 2009).

In a dominating display of Saturn-Pluto political action, Governor Ige declared the Thirty Meter Telescope's immanent construction during the Saturn-Pluto conjunction on July 15, 2019 dispite years of contestation. A great societal upheaval in the form of large-scale protests immediately ensued. Native Hawaiians physically obstructed the TMT groundbreaking ceremony, peacefully rising up against a lineage of oppression and land desecration that began in the Uranus-Neptune-Saturn-Pluto archetypal constellation of the early 1800s. In a Uranian expression of rebellious disturbance enlivened by Plutonic forces, Native Hawaiians blocked developmental access to the mountain and inter-island protests erupted. Indigenous and non-indigenous allies traveled from the mainland United States and across the globe to support the preservation of sacred lands and indigenous culture in peaceful solidarity. Protesters were subsequently met with electrified tensions between the police officers and the state’s line of blockades, resulting in the unlawful arrests of kūpuna (elders), and the defilement of the Hawaiian Kingdom’s flag (Brestovansky, 2019; “Crews bulldoze unpermitted”, 2019).

The threat of further destruction of the sacred served as an impetus for the renewal of ancestral knowledge and the ancient imagination, beckoning Native Hawaiians to resurrect their traditions: ‘oli (chant), mo’okū’auhau (genealogy), pule (prayer), and hula (dance) have all experienced a resurgence on and off Mauna Kea (Arista, 2018). The revival of a spirited connection to the Earth and ancestral ways has evoked a novel expression of Hawaiian tradition that was forsaken in the early 1800s Saturn-Pluto conjunction squaring Uranus-Neptune. As a law traditionally enacted by aliʻi (chiefs), the kapu system was a sacred prohibition restraining one’s actions for what was perceived to be righteous. Today, the words kapu aloha is chanted in the crowds protecting the Mauna Kea summit, and can be seen plastered across picket signs, T-shirts, and social media feeds. When aloha (love) is added to the kapu, the meaning transforms into a multifaceted discipline informing a person how to act with respect, reciprocity, and focused reverence for all those involved (Goodyear-Kaʻopua, 2017; Maile, 2009; “Kapu aloha,” 2019). Cultural leader Lanakila Manguail emphasizes the inclusivity of kapu aloha in a speech made during the 2015 TMT blockade:

We are not here just to stand up for Hawaiians. We are here to stand up for the Hanua (Earth), and every child of this Hanua. We speak to all hearts, any hearts. Even those who come up here who drive the machines that would rip up our sacred place. We speak to them with the utmost respect, and aloha, and compassion. (0:05:00-0:05:51)

Kapu aloha is being in service to the greater good of society and the entire Earth community, extending love and compassion to all living beings and the animate landscape. The modern kapu is evident when Native Hawaiians nonviolently work with foreigners to dismantle imperialistic colonialism through direct action and compassionate engagement with the settler-state law enforcement and astronomical institutions. Arrests of peaceful demonstrators on Mauna Kea are responded to with diplomacy. The philosophy of kapu aloha is evident in the community services offered at the frontlines of the Mauna Kea Access Road occupation: free hot meals, emergency medical care, donated clothing, ride shares, cultural workshops, teachings of ‘oli (chanting) and hula, garbage pickup, and the general care for all people who come to Mauna Kea. Law enforcement are welcomed with open arms, plates full of hot food, and the traditional greeting of honi honi— pressing noses together­­ in a sharing of breath. Additionally, astronomers and technicians are permitted to pass the Access Road blockades and continue their work on Mauna Kea’s 13 observatories. Despite state efforts to remove the protectors from their firm position in peaceful resistance and expedite construction of the TMT, the defenders of Mauna Kea celebrated their one-year anniversary occupying the illegal Access Road on July 19, 2020.

Although kapu aloha has been used within Hawaiian cultural contexts and demonstrations for social change since the 1970s, the evolving philosophical practice gained momentum when the imminent construction of the TMT on Mauna Kea was announced by Governor Ige during the 2007 to 2020 Uranus-Pluto square and the 2018 to 2021 Saturn-Pluto conjunction. The conflict between the Promethean impulse for unhindered technological progress and that of indigenous ecological consciousness, compounded to monumental proportions July 19, 2019, fueling the development of kapu aloha in response to a long history of indigenous colonial oppression. The dominating force of the colonial settler-state (Saturn-Pluto) was met with radical indigenous revolution (Uranus-Pluto), while the old kapu system (Saturn) was excavated from the past (Saturn-Pluto) and reconfigured into a liberatory and novel expression (Uranus) of kapu aloha (Saturn-Uranus).


A long stream of breath blown through the pūʻolēʻolē (conch shell horn) cuts the silence seperating night and dawn along the illegal Access Road lying at the foot of Mauna Kea. The morning religious protocol commences beneath the towering summit of the mountain, where the sacred mists fill the lungs with breath that will soon be transfigured into prayer. The last hula has no kapu, it is unrestricted and open to participation from everyone: ʻAi Kumumu Keke is an invocation of the sensorial experience and essence of magma rising in Halemaʻumaʻu, the crater in the Kīlauea caldera, the home of Pele. The hula not only expresses the power of Pele erupting her volcanic might, but embodies the ferocious goddess, utilizing tight, stiff, and intentional body movements: fingers contort into claws, and voices emanate ferocity as they recite the mele (chant) through barred teeth:

‘Ai kamumu keke Nā keke pahoehoe ke Wela i luno o Halemaʻumaʻu ke Crunching cinder consumed by fire Smooth unbroken lava rendered to cinder The fire rises of Halemaʻumaʻu (Pualani Louis, 2017, p. 162)

The dancer becomes the destructive, creationary, and transformative liquid fire of Pele. Arms raise upwards and the magma rises, steady and expansively ascending. Clawed fingers tear apart the surface crust of semi-cooled basalt, seeking deliverance from the fiery depths where the goddess was submereged so many years ago.

The overthrow of the traditional kapu system of the aliʻi (chiefs) in 1819 under the Uranus-Neptune conjunction squaring the Saturn-Pluto conjunction, instigated a rise in feminine political power, while inadvertantly blazing the way for a patriarchial settler-state occupancy. As Saturn shifted out of the 15º orb of influence, the old ways were heaved into the scorching inferno of Halemaʻumaʻu in Kapiʻolani’s grandiose declaration of Protestant conversion, imprisoning the Plutonic deity in her own home of molten Earth. The illegal 1893 coup led by foreign Christian businessmen and the subsequent annexation of the Hawaiian Kingdom coincided with the Neptune-Pluto conjunction opposed to the conjunction of Saturn-Uranus. Rapid ecological and cultural desecration ensued: native lands were seized and in the archetypal pattern of Uranus-Pluto alignments, the technological impulse for revelatory knowledge and progress ravaged the sacred mountaintops of Hawaiʻi. Atop Mauna Kea the Promethean impulse yearns to be liberated by its Earth-bound nature on a sacred landscape cosmologically connecting the heavens to the Earth. The oppression of the indigenous understanding of an interconnected, intelligent matrix of reality percolates from the terrestrial substratum as the colonial-state perpetuates acts of imperialist-settler mentality by proposing to build a 14th telescope on illegally acquisitioned land.

Forged from the volcanic fires, the Hawaiian religious-political kapu system plunged back into the earthen womb, reemerging in modernity as an elevated and embodied kapu of respect, responsibility, and love. Representative in the cyclical transits of the heavenly bodies, the archetypal tides have turned, unleashing the evolutionary forces of the chthonic. Pele awakens. Evoked by those who chant ‘Ai kamumu keke, the goddess rises from the Dionysian inferno. Concurrently, the ancient prayer transfigures the chanter: as one utters the words of the ancestors, moving their body to the pulse of the Earth’s molten geological current, the boundary between magma and deity, dance and eruption, archetype and individual disintegrates and becomes whole. Entrained within the spiral of cosmic evolution, human consciousness awakens to the interpenetrating embodiment of the cosmos.


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