Transformative Festivals: MANAFEST, Big Island
All festivals are transformative: they bring people together with a similar motivation and from this cultivate an experience, a certain way of being, a space that becomes a living entity in itself. When I saw posters on the Big Island of Hawaii for a festival concerned with renewing and regenerating the planet called Manafest, I knew I would be there.So, there it was, under the full moon, at the feet of Mauna Kea and in the lap of Goddess Pele on January 26th was Manafest, a festival held to celebrate abundance and creativity, to raise the collective consciousness through honouring the Sacred Feminine with music, educational workshops, the healing arts, nutritional food as well as yoga and dance. Manafest stands apart from many festivals in that it was a holistic, spiritual, intention powered festival, manifested by seven women’s vision who together are the Sisters of the Tribe. The educational workshops took place during the day, everything from a soul striptease workshop to how to honour honeybee consciousness, on the sacredness of water to how to monetize your health and wellness business. There was such a luscious variety of topics to learn from, I was wishing I had a clone, or multiple, so I could make it to every workshop and absorb every ounce of knowledge being shared so generously. I just had to remember no matter what my decision was, every workshop speaks to unity in diversity; all workshops are a reflection of the same greater purpose. Like any festival, there was merchandise and services offered, but they were all rooted in holistic wellness. There was conscious coconut water, honey made from a bee activist and educator, healing tents that offered aromatherapy, massage, acupuncture, all local vegan and vegetarian food, tarot and palm reading, a clothing optional spa for women in the day, with all gender welcome at night. Between workshops I wandered and wondered among this beautiful reality, the festival even served water that was from water catchment treated with UV light and charcoal. Again, so thoughtful, showing that every detail is important as the other, right down to the last drop of water.
To Goddess Pele ~ “But there is an even deeper, and somewhat darker, side to our forgetfulness of the sacred within creation. When our monotheistic religions placed God in heaven they banished the many gods and goddesses of the earth, of its rivers and mountains. We forgot the ancient wisdom contained in our understanding of the sacred in creation – its rhythms, its meaningful magic.”
I have always had a love for plants, and as time goes on, increasingly for the knowledge and wisdom they embody. So, the first workshop I went to was on the uses of Hawaiin herbs and plants with Aunty Lynda, called ‘Ke Ala La’au Lapa’au – The Path of Hawaiian Herbal Medicine. The group walked around the aina (Hawaiian word for land) festival grounds, led by the teacher, going from plant to plant discussing the many hidden talents they carry. The teacher of the workshop told us how in Hawaiin all plants are regarded as relatives, they are ana akea’s, which means aunty. And with the many ways they are able to heal, mend, feed, and inspire us – they are like the best kind of family member that you can depend on for everything. It seems many of us have forgotten this, and in turn, have lost how to reciprocate this care for a kingdom that has, and continues to, nurture every part of our being. While at this festival I was so lucky to become closer with noni, holy basil, guava, tea leaf, banana, lavendar, lemongrass, green papaya, moringa, turmeric, among many other plants and herbs! Let the fruits of knowledge grow in abundance! Then dance for the fruit’s abundance!
The dance of abundance
A super memorable space of the festival was the Red Tent, and the intention of the Red Tent was to both honour the goddess of fire in Hawaii, Pele, as well as the community of women at the festival. Throughout the day, the Red Tent was a celebration of the various stages of growth in women’s bodies. There was the Maiden Ceremony for girls entering into puberty, as well as a Crone Crowning Ceremony for women in the later stages of life, post menopause. Throughout the day there was time to tell stories, laugh, cry, heal, and share wisdom. I was super lucky to meet and befriend Chloe Bee, a facilitator of the Red Tent, who I talked to about the lessons learned from that powerful space (check her site out at http://www.rbbotanicals.com). She told me how she learned about the importance of moving emotion; when we have a space to express the deep emotions inside of us, we can then focus more clearly on our passions, and become activated by our passions more effortlessly. Its like all water, it is meant to move fluidly, to circulate, transform. When it is stagnant, it loses the qualities associated with health and vitality. Chloe also articulated how the menstrual cycle is marginalized; we hear this term applied to groups of people but never to a bodily process. Yet its so true, menstrual cycles are such a taboo subject in many societies – its treated as something to be hidden and silenced instead of treating as the sacred cycle that it is.
The Red Tent in the dark. Mystery glows from candlelight ~
Chloe and I talked this out on the stunning black sand beach of Kahena on the following Sunday, where the sound vibrations of the drumming circle thrummed around us. We linked the beauty of the Red Tent to the theory of ecofeminism, an environmental theory that connects the marginalization and oppression of people with that of the earth. The natural cycles and rhythms of the earth have long been ignored, much to our own dismay, and in going forward it is paramount to get back in tuned with our bodies as well as the earth systems we are a part of. Ecofeminism posits that humanity must transform how power relationships are negotiated; the oppression and abuse characterized by modern society’s hierarchical and patriarchal social system founds that same destructive relationship with the earth. All people and earth relations are ruled by a power-over mindset, where anyone and anything is expendable to make profit. In order to reestablish a regenerative relationship with the planet we must heal our social relations, which shows that ecological justice and social justice are one in the same pursuit.
Conscious music festival, featuring the Goddess Pele in the bottom centre, and acroyoga!
The festival was motivated to revere the sacred feminine, but this does not apply exclusively to women, rather it is an energy that flows through all things and all people, as does masculine energy. Recognizing these energies provokes what the festival is harkening to is in it’s name, Mana, which means power that comes from within. We live in a world where so many of us are taught that power is dependant on subordinating others; that power exists in a hierarchy. This power-over paradigm is what fuels our extractivist based economy, both people and the earth become expendable in order to propel an illusory fantasy of unlimited growth. More people are waking up to the truth that real power comes from within, and it is tied to the love for one’s self, fellow humans, and the earth as a whole. Its one thing to praise this in our speech, but attending Manafest, cultivating inspiring friendships with people like Chloe, and overall spending time so close to the source of creation – an active volcano, I began to realize how this truth is practically fulfilled.
Mauna Loa Crater, the active volcano on Big Island, Hawaii. The source of creation itself!
I went to Hawaii with the intention of learning more about ecovillages and cool farms, which I did, but I never anticipated the lesson I would learn about the importance of loving myself. If I want to be part of the movement to heal the planet, than it makes sense that would be founded on a loving and nurturing relationship with my own body, mind, and soul. Its so ironic that one of the greatest facets of life we procrastinate is properly taking care of ourselves. I realized this at Manafest, on Big Island there is an omnipresent mantra about the sacredness of the self; there is a fierceness about it there which is truly a distinguishing quality. This seemed even more supported by the universe’s clues, I kept stumbling upon a favourite book of mine, The Four Agreements. I saw its simple but powerful title spelt out on a fridge at the heart of a secret ecovillage on Big Island. The first agreement is “Be Impeccable in Your Word”, which means to speak with love and truth. Do not use the word against yourself or other people, which can be spoken or created in your thoughts. When we think negatively about ourselves, we perpetuate a negative reality. When we hold ourselves sacred, and treat ourselves with love, this reverberates outwards and affects our environment. Sandra Ingerman articulates this in Medicine For The Earth“the out world that we live in is a reflection of our inner state of consciousness.”. We are currently discovering so much about how our inner selves creates our outer reality, this is occurring in the science – spirituality binary collapse through ways of knowing like quantum physics and the revitalization of Indigenous knowledge. So, I left Manafest and the incredible Big Island of Hawaii with even more fervour for protecting the environment, accompanied by the realization that my empowerment to heal the planet begins with myself.