Pacifica Journal


 

 

This extensive watery realm of the Pacific, so influenced by the fluctuations and rhythms of the moon is the primordial Womb of the World.

 

Report from Hawai'i 

by Van James, Chair, Anthroposophical Society in Hawai`i This is an abridged version of an oral report given at the first Asia-Pacific Initiative Group Meeting in Manila, Philippines, 1996 

From Pacifica Journal, Number 1, 4th Quarter 1996

Geographic Background

Hawai`i is a chain of more than a dozen islands, seven of which are inhabited, in the mid-Pacific, 21° north of the equator. It is the most distant archipelago from continental land, boasting the highest sea cliffs, the most continually active volcano, the greatest annual rainfall, and the most endangered species of any place in the world. The islands sit on a volcanic "hot-spot" and not along the edge of a tectonic plate as is the case with the Pacific rim, known as the Ring of Fire. The elements of fire, air, and water are all powerful. Earth and its firmness are rare and cherished commodities. No large land animals are endemic to Hawai`i thus affecting the astral significantly. Small self-contained ecosystems exist throughout the islands and are home to rare plant and animal species that often don't exist beyond their own particular valley, let alone anywhere else in the world. For this reason, more plants and animals have become extinct in recent years in Hawai`i than in any other place on earth. 

The population of Hawai`i is one million people, nine tenths of whom live in Honolulu, the capital, on the island of O`ahu. One third of the population is Hawaiian, Polynesian and mixed races, one third is Asian, mostly people of Japanese ancestry, and one third is Caucasian, mostly of American-European background. The major industries are tourism (half a million visitors descend on Hawai`i every month), military, pineapple and sugar production. Ninety-five percent of all resources are imported and the cost of living is the highest in the United States. 

Historic Background

It was in this region of the Pacific that the moon separated off from the earth in order that the planet might achieve its full development unhindered by the denser lunar matter. This extensive watery realm of the Pacific, so influenced by the fluctuations and rhythms of the moon is the primordial Womb of the World. It was to this region that certain Atlantic basin peoples migrated via South-East Asia. Under the ancient planetary influence of the Venus Oracle, these dark-eyed, brown-skinned people became known as the Polynesians for the "many islands" they settled. Hawai`i was probably inhabited shortly before the time of Christ. The earliest carbon dates show signs of settlement around 300 AD. The early Polynesian migrations to Hawai`i came from the south Pacific. Non-instrument, long-distance navigation skills brought the first peaceful settlers to the Hawaiian Islands. Later Hawaiians spoke of the Menehune, a short, dark, curly haired people that built the ancient earthworks and stone-lined irrigation ditches. Such legends may refer to the first inhabitants, although the Menehune tradition also seems to allude to elemental beings. 

Between the tenth and thirteenth centuries a second wave of migrations brought a more aggressive and war-like group that introduced a harsh kapu or taboo system as well as human sacrifice. Whenever human sacrifice was introduced, whether in Europe, America or the Pacific, it was primarily through decadent cult practices of small elite groups to maintain spiritual and political power. The elite line of ali`i (royalty) and kahuna (priests) was maintained by the strict laws of the kapu system, based on the principle of mana (spiritual power). 

Rudolf Steiner Library and Society house in Manoa valley in Honolulu, Hawai`i.

 

 

 

 
When the early consciousness soul explorers, such as Bougainville and Cook, encountered these last and longest-traveled descendants of the Atlantean mystery centers, they used the imaginations of "Venus, beauty, love, and paradise" to characterize the people and their habitats. Oddly enough, Captain James Cook's first voyage to the Pacific was to observe for the sake of British science, the transit of the planet Venus. On his third and final voyage in 1779, in search of the fabled Northwest Passage, Cook stumbled upon what he considered to be his "most important discovery," the Hawaiian Islands. Revered at first by the Hawaiians as Lono, the god of peace and prosperity, Cook was killed in a scuffle at the end of the annual Lono festival. Within a few years, the ancient religious practices, based on the kapu system, were discarded by the Hawaiians themselves. Soon after, Western missionaries and whalers arrived and had a strong, often negative, influence on the islanders. Disease reduced the native population to a fraction of its pre-contact numbers. 

In 1893, the Hawaiian monarchy, based on a model of British government, was overthrown by a small but wealthy group of mostly American businessmen. The bloodless coup that deposed Queen Lili`uokalani and brought to an end the centuries old control of royal blood lineage, had the backing of certain parties in the United States government. By 1898, during the Spanish-American War, when US imperialism had found its stride in the idea of "manifest destiny," Hawai`i was annexed as a territory of the United States. Pearl Harbor, a large, natural harbor, sufficient in size to berth an entire navy, was reason enough for annexation. In 1941 it would be the outer reason for America's entrance into the Second World War. Hawaiians thought that one day the great United States would return Hawai`i's sovereignty, as Great Britain had done once before in the nineteenth century after an arrogant Royal Navy captain sailed into Honolulu Harbor and declared the islands the property of the British empire. But in 1959, with the power of the sugar industry behind it, Hawai`i was declared the 50th state in the union of the USA. 

Following generations of discrimination, including the banning of the Hawaiian language and other cultural traditions, native Hawaiians are now participating in a cultural renaissance. By the year 2000 there will probably be some form of Hawaiian government and self-rule, perhaps similar to the Native American Indians and Eskimo tribal governments. Whether this will take the form of reservations or "nation within a nation" models is not known, but some native groups have proposed plans analogous with the threefold social order. 

Anthroposophical Background and Activities

In February 1894, the first Hawaiian Theosophical study group, the "Aloha Branch," was established. Soon after, the Hawai`i and Lotus branches were founded by prominent business and community leaders, as well as political figures. Although the groups remained small they had a definite influence on the acceptance of Asian religious ideas, particularly Buddhism, in the Protestant-dominated society of Honolulu. Lectures sponsored by the groups often drew large crowds and press attention. When Henry Steel Olcott, co-founder with H.P. Blavatsky, of the international Theosophical Society, came to Honolulu in 1901, four hundred people attended his lectures which were reviewed by the local newspapers. 

  As manuscripts of Rudolf Steiner's lectures arrived in Hawai`i, they were studied by those who would later found the "Honolulu Group" of the Anthroposophical Society. Many of these early typed manuscripts have been preserved in the Rudolf Steiner Library in Honolulu. Charlotte Ferreri represented the Honolulu Group at the Christmas Foundation Meeting of 1923 in Dornach. She helped co-found the Group, along with well-known Honolulu names such as Campbell, Carter, Castle, Galt, Holt, and Swanzy. Later members, among them Chu, Cristy, Lee, Schuman, Stone, Whitlow, Wakefield and Wild, brought the Group through the trying thirties and forties. 

It was during the Second World War that Alfred Meebold, an adventurous Austrian pupil of Steiner's, was forced by the war to remain in Hawai`i, and in exchange for his room and board he lectured and led studies for the Honolulu Group. Dornach received significant financial aid from the Group during these war years. 

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of Rudolf Steiner's birth, the Honolulu Waldorf School or Kula Ho`omohala Pua ("school of the unfolding child") was founded in 1961. Now in its 35th year, the school has 280 students in grades K-11. The school has been healthy and stable thanks to an endowment set up by Eric Wakefield that jointly benefits the Goetheanum and the school. Mr. Wakefield also established the Rudolf Steiner Foundation in Hawai`i, which supports Anthroposophical initiatives in Hawai`i. Other Waldorf schools are the Haleakala School on Maui, and the pioneering initiatives Lokahi School in Kona, and Malamalama School near Hilo on Hawai`i island. Crater Hill School is another small effort on the island of Kaua`i. The Honolulu and Maui schools are full-members of the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America (AWSNA). Under the wing of the Honolulu Waldorf School for more than a decade, Kula Makua, the adult education program and in-service Waldorf teacher training course, has recently become incorporated as an independent institute. Its programs work closely--often dovetailing with--the 
Society's activities. 

Hawaiians can awaken to Demeter-certified Kona coffee from the Big Island. Biodynamic gardens on O`ahu, Maui and Hawai`i have provided nutritious food in limited amounts to islanders for many years. Peppertree Farm was very successful in the 1980's and helped train BD gardeners in sub-tropical agriculture. It now awaits the arrival of a new gardener. The Kahumana ("guardians of the spirit") Community, an hour outside of Honolulu has also had a productive gardening program that awaits a replacement farmer. Kahumana is an independent, though state supported, curative community that has two programs: one for single mothers and another for troubled adults. It is a unique community cooperatively run by Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox Christians and Anthroposophists. The community also provides rooms for vacationers who want a non-tourist atmosphere for their Hawaiian holiday. It is to Kahumana that the English speech artist Virginia Brett retired before her death.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anthroposophical Society meeting room at the center in Honolulu Hawai`i.
Another internationally known artist who retired to Hawai`i was Josef Gunzinger. The composer of music for Rudolf Steiner's Mystery Dramas became the conductor of the Maui Symphony and Chairman of the Anthroposophical Society in Hawai`i, as he continued to pen original scores and raise a family. In his last years he produced festival programs that involved concert audiences in singing verses by Rudolf Steiner set to music as part of an original Michaelmas symphony. The arts are especially important to Hawai`i, this place that has a particular relationship with Venus. There are some half dozen Flow Form fountains installed at hospitals, schools, and communities throughout the islands. Several Anthroposophically inspired artists exhibit regularly in Honolulu through the Hawaii Watercolor Society. And a Goetheanistic approach to architecture has been successfully explored in building projects at the Honolulu Waldorf School and Kahumana Community. 

The Anthroposophical Society in Hawai`i maintains a small house in the university area of Honolulu which contains the Rudolf Steiner Library, bookstore, shop and meeting rooms. The Society has a Council of seven members approved by the membership at a general meeting held around Easter each year. Since its inception as the Honolulu Group in 1923, the Anthroposophical Society in Hawai`i has been independent of the Anthroposophical Society in America. (Hawai`i is further away from the American Society headquarters than is Dornach.) However, in recent years the two Societies have been in more direct communication with regular exchanges of representatives. Arthur Zajonc, General Secretary of the American Society, has given a meditation retreat, class lesson, and lectures in Hawai`i as has Penelope Roberts, a General Section representative for North America. The Chair of the Hawaiian Society attends the American Annual General Meetings as well as the newly formed Interim Collegium of North America. There are two Class Holders in Hawai`i and lessons in the School of Spiritual Science occur every two weeks. Section work is linked with North America through the Hawaiian Waldorf schools connection with AWSNA and the Pedagogical Section in America. Many visiting artists and lecturers come through Hawai`i to give workshops, talks and conferences. And there are about seven on-going study groups that meet at the Society or in private homes throughout the state. The first international Pacific Region Conference held here in the summer of 1995 was an important event in the life of anthroposophy in Hawai`i. With Dr. Michaela Glockler from Dornach and representatives from all around the Pacific, the conference, as its theme indicates, was an historic "Meeting the Future." 

The forming of an Initiative Group by Asia and Pacific General Secretaries and country Representatives in Manila, Philippines in 1996--of which Hawai`i was a part--will now carry a certain responsibility for the conscious development and sharing of Anthroposophical initiatives in this region of the earth so distant from the birth place of anthroposophy in Europe.

How can we on a Spiritual Scientific path in the Pacific effectively take hold of these forces for the benefit of humanity and the earth as a whole? 

World commerce has now shifted from the Atlantic region to the Pacific basin. The three most populous countries in the world (China, India and Indonesia) have contributed to this Pacific shift. What is the place of Anthroposophy in the Asia-Pacific region? 

What also, is Hawai`i's place in the Pacific Century, the twenty-first century? How shall Hawai`i, at the hub of the Pacific, meet its neighbors along the rim--not only on an external level but inwardly as well? How do the forces of destiny work through our lives, our location, and our time? And, how can we on a Spiritual Scientific path in the Pacific effectively take hold of these forces for the benefit of humanity and the earth as a whole? These are some of the crucial questions we are asking as members of the Anthroposophical Society in Hawai`i.


Published by the Anthroposophical Society in Hawai' i  -- Updated 6/27/05
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