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The Magic of Hawaii: Interview with Julie Hawkins

Julie Hawkins is an Alaka’i (teacher) and president and founder of the Julie Hawkins Center for Spiritual Studies and Empowerment. She has been a professional and NLP coach (neuro linguistic programming) for well over a decade. Julie also draws from her diverse metaphysical experience as a teacher Hawaiian spirituality and ancient wisdom, known as Huna, and her readings from the Akashic Records.

Kirsten: Tell me a bit about yourself. Are you a kahuna?

Julie: I would not call myself a kahuna, but I practice the kahuna way and I’ve received several years of training. We are taught to be humble and that only others give us the title of kahuna.

Kirsten: What is the kahuna way?

Julie: To me, it is learning, understanding and practicing the secrets and mysteries of the ancient Hawaiian culture and ancestors. The short version of what I practice is called “Huna” which means “secret.” Ka-huna has a few different meanings – it can mean the secret, the light, the keeper of the secret, and priestess or sorcerer. And kahuna – which is actually both singular and plural – in ancient times kahuna were known as the experts in their particular field. There were kahuna for physical ailments, kahuna for fishing, or kahuna for dance – just like we have professionals today who are dentists, doctors, plumbers, carpenters, teachers and many other types of professions. Kahuna spent their entire life honing their craft, just as a professional today would. You apprentice for a period of years or invest in years of education and then you become the PhD equivalent.

The Kahuna way is about working with energy; working with the elements. The elements are very important to the Hawaiians – earth, air, water, fire, and spirit. The land is life and must be respected and honored. A kahuna learns to work with all the elements instead of trying to work against them, which is what most people do.

Instead of trying to put out a fire, you might want to learn to direct the fire, which is what happens with the volcanoes. There are lots of legendary stories where the lava would flow and a kahuna would be called upon direct the flow of the lava so as not to harm anyone or destroy homes and land. Kahuna learn to work with and respect the elements, instead of trying to master them. It is this cooperation that appears to be such a mystery to others.

The elements also relate to the gods and goddesses of Hawaii, of which there are many.

Kirsten: Is Huna a sort of shamanism?

Julie: Yes, huna is Hawaiian shamanism. It’s known as an ancient spiritual wisdom tradition and healing practice. It works in conjunction with spirit, the elements and the person who’s working it. Think about it this way: the things doctors do today would seem miraculous to someone 200 years ago. That’s how the kahuna was looked upon.

If you had something wrong with you and didn’t know what it was, you went to the local shaman. In the Hawaiian tradition, there is a more specialized kahuna for many different aspects of life, though today not so much. Today the kahuna is a multi-tasker.

Kirsten: What do kahuna deal with today?

Julie: Anything you can think of – from weather to hula to health. For example, Kahuna in Hawaii are still often consulted for land issues – from where to plant or what to feed the land to working to rid the land of negative spirits. The bones of the ali’i, or royalty, are buried and scattered throughout the islands and there is powerful energy attached to them.

Kirsten: Is there a connection between hula and huna?

Julie: Yes, a big connection. The practices of the kahuna were kept very secret, hence the word, “huna.” Huna is an oral tradition and was never written down. There wasn’t even a written Hawaiian language until the 19th century. So all of this secret information was handed down as an oral tradition – storytelling from generation to generation.

When the missionaries came to Hawaii, they really could no longer hand it down orally because they were condemned. So they to the powerful and secret ways of huna and they went underground so to speak by being incorporated into the dance.

The dance of hula has many different layers. There will be dances about crops and seasons and land and children, but then there’s a deeper meaning that an outsider wouldn’t understand. And that’s where huna went.

Here’s another takeaway: in my experience, huna is very magical. And I think everybody should learn some aspects of it because it’s really about how you live your life. It’s about being in integrity, and believing and knowing that nobody else, including the planet, is less than or greater than you. We are all one. So if you hurt the planet, the community or the family, you hurt you.

Huna is multi-layered – a philosophy that you internalize, and accommodate to your way, instead of having to conform to it. It is no longer thought of as a religion. You can choose how to live your life in a way that’s in integrity with who you are, and who you want to be, and who you are in the community and the world, knowing that we are all one. Because everybody out there is just a reflection of who I am. Best to learn to live in harmony and respect.

How I use huna in my life is more as a set of life rules. I use it to guide and improve who I am by honoring and respecting those around, whether I like them or disagree with them. How I manifest huna professionally is to work with my clients to interpret the problems and issues in their life and then teach them tools, many of which are huna based, so they can make better choices and stop feeling like their life is out of their control. My Kahuna expertise is working with my clients on their mental and emotional issues and teaching them skills and tools to take charge of their life. When you know better, you do better.

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