In Hawaiian culture, we call the umbilical cord and placenta, the Tree of Life – Piko.
When a child is born, we give the Piko, back to the earth. In that precious spot, we plant a tree.
As it grows, the tree has different meaning or significance. As parent, we watch the tree in order to gain insight into the child. For the child, it is place of refuge. It’s a place where they can go to have some sacred time and also receive wisdom and guidance.
When my children were born, I placed their piko into the earth and planted a tree over the area. My oldest son, Kala’s tree was Kukui. This was perfect, because his name means the sun, or the light.
We planted that tree in ceremony with the family here and we watched it grow.
Over time, I would look out to the tree to see how it was doing. It was growing and thriving.
Then, when Kala was around eight years old, his father’s family in Idaho, asked if Kala could come to the mainland and visit them for six weeks. He is my first born. I felt like he was too young. I was reluctant. I procrastinated. I pushed off the decision as long as I could.
One day as the requested dates for his journey were approaching, I went to the yard to clear my mind and get some fresh perspective. When I stood at Kala’s piko tree, I noticed the very first two fruits of the kukui were growing.
In all the years since we planted that tree it had never ever fruited. I thought, “Oh, my goodness. Maybe it’s time. He’s come of age. Maybe it’s time for me to let him be on his own and go and do his thing.”
I returned to the house and I pulled my deck of mana cards, which are a beautiful set of cards that I would absolutely recommend. They have a lot of wisdom and beautiful illustration.
I shuffled the deck and with intention around my son, and pulled the card called pua. Pua means flower.
On the front, the photo had flowers all around the border, but on the center was a young warrior getting ready to throw a spear
Pua is the blossoming of the flower. Pua is also known to refer to a child.
The picture took me back to a memory of Kala’s birth. The entire time as I labored awaiting his arrival, I sang a song that my cousin Melody, the Name Giver, and my grandmother had helped me write
The song was “Mai ka pua”.
Mai Ka pua
E Hele Mai oe
I chanted the whole time.
When I selected that card Pua, the child, but yet a youthful warrior, I read the description on the mana card. It spoke of rights of passage. It spoke of the blossoming of the flower.
In that moment, I knew it was time to let him go.
That trip to became a pivotal moment in Kala’s life. He was able to explore outside of the islands on ten acres of forest land in Idaho. He saw a bald eagle, fed hummingbirds, encounter deer and even moose.
To this day, he has this really amazing connection with the land and his family there. Memories that are invaluable for his young, inquisitive mind. It was a time of independence and stepping out on his own.
It would have been around that same age that in ancient times, boys would enact a ceremony or ritual to leave his mother and go to the hale moa – the men’s house to begin his training as a warrior.
There would have been a ceremony where his mother would have to let him go. He would join the men and be raised under their guidance in the men’s house.
For Kala, traveling to my husband’s family was an opportunity for him to expand. A coming of age ceremony.
The practice of the piko tree is a wonderful way to receive guidance and insight into a child. It is an opportunity to allow the elements in nature to be a guide to bring clarity as the child grows.
Our word for tree is kumula’au. Kumu is teacher. Kumu is source.
The tree gave me an important lesson that day:
Creator and the kupuna – ancestors, send us information on a regular basis if we know how to listen.
Are you facing a challenge? Do you have a burning question or an important decision to make? Get outside and ask for guidance!
Take a walk in nature
Stand at the edge of the ocean
Climb a lonely mountain
Take a walk on your property or in your neighborhood
Have you received a message from nature? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.
Jeana Iwalani Naluai