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How to Enter Hawaiian Sacred Sites

Kumu Jeana prepares to enter sacred sites

Hawaiian  sacred sites are places with significant historical and cultural meaning. These locations mark important events such as the birth of kings, places of connection and communion or noteworthy battles.

Sacred sites include heiau (temple sites or shrines), pohaku (stones), ki’i pohaku (petroglyphs or rock carvings), fishponds and other ancient architectural remains.

Today, sacred sites are an important part of Hawaiian culture. It is important to be respectful and follow some simple rules when you visit sacred places in the Hawaiian Islands.

What makes a place sacred?

In Hawaii, many of our sacred places are aligned with the stars and the tracking of other celestial bodies like the elliptical line of the moon.  According to the theory of ley lines, there is a supernatural concentration of energy along certain axis points on the globe. For example, in the Timbavati Reserve in Africa there is a golden ley line that goes from the Timbavati all the way up through Giza, where the pyramids are. In fact, Hawaii is exactly on the other side of that.

Some places are considered sacred because when people go to those places, they get activated. When people go there and do their cultural practice there, it keeps those sites more active and energetic.

We go to a sacred site to pray and make connection with Source. Over time, at different places, you can really feel that there’s a lot of mana, energy, power and magic going on.

Activating Energy Over Time

We built our heiau, temples, in places aligned with the stars. Later, other rulers came in and built even bigger temples on top of the original temples. All around the globe, you can see examples of this phenomenon. One group of peoples create a place of worship. Eventually, they are conquered and the victors come in and destroy the temple. However, the new residents know that it is a sacred place, full of energetic power and and built their own place of worship in the exact same spot.

This process repeats itself, creating layers of activation that have happened over time in many, many different places around the globe.

How do you enter Hawaiian sacred sites? Is there a protocol about what to say or bring with you?

When I go to sacred sites, I like to take an offering. We call it ho’okupu. I was looking on this week, and they a beautiful explanation about it.

i hele i kau hale pa’a pu’olou i kalima In going to the house of others, carry a package in the hand. Take a gift.

This is the perfect way to think about going to a sacred place. Imagine going to Ke Akua’s, great spirit’s, house. How would you act when going to visit your ancestors? Sacred sites are a place to connect with the ancestors, because there is an active, spiritual energy there. Take an offering or a gift, just as you would to visit anyone you respect and admire.

Ho’okupu, the Offering

Photo of Ho'okupu

There are many types of gifts that would be appropriate to bring to a sacred site such as:

Pule, Prayer

oli, chant

pu’olu, bundle

Make a pu’olu by taking tea leaf, place the offering inside and making a bundle. You can place taro in that bundle with a little bit of salt. When I put salt into the ho’okupu, I always like to say, “E komo mai ke akua” and breathe divine breath into the offering. Infuse your offering with mana and intention.

Here are some other options to put in your pu’olou:

Sweet potato

Limu kala- the seaweed of forgiveness


Something from your garden

Your offering should be something living, vibrant and filled with mana. Awa, one of the ancient canoe plants, is always a high mana offering.

What NOT to do

Typically we don’t offer stones as an offering. You might see rocks at sacred sites, but this is a different type of offering. For example, in Iao Valley, there’s a beautiful sacred stone. Many people will wrap the stone with tea leaf and leave them there next to the sacred stones. These wrapped stones are prayers.

People place these with an intention of asking the stones to remove some of the hewa, the heaviness and burdens, that they’re carrying. They might be prayers for healing or asking the stones to lift and take some of what they’re carrying. It’s not an offering. Those are prayers waiting to be answered.

Don’t touch those prayers while you’re out and about. It’s not okay to play with them, throw them or play a stacking game with them.


It is very important to offer a chant before we enter aHawaiian sacred site and ask for protection. I ask Ke Akua to bring his divine breath above and below, to my left and to my right, backwards and forwards, inside and outside and all around as I enter into these spaces.

If you don’t know a chant, you can say what your intention is. For example, “I’m Jeana and I come in peace. I am here with reverence and respect, to give and receive aloha.” You can do this wherever you are on the planet, because of course, there are sacred places all over the world.

Kukui oil and frankincense can also be used for protection. Put it over your backbone for protection and to stay clear, energetically. You can also make a small quarter sized bundle of ti leaf and salt.

Photo of students wearing kihei

We wear kihei when we go to do ceremony at temple, because kihei also offers protection to cover your piko- energy centers. A kihei is one of our garments that we tie over the shoulder – left for women and the right shoulder for men.

The Most Important Thing

The most important things to remember as you go to sacred places: Be respectful, be reverent, leave your opala, your rubbish, outside of the space. Go bearing gifts, just like you would when you visit someone’s house. The gift is an offering, an exchange. It’s the giving and receiving of aloha.

When Hawaiians greet one another, we touch forehead to forehead. We exchange divine breath. This is another example of a pono exchange, a giving and receiving of aloha.

So that’s my advice to you about what to offer when you are going on sacred sites. Now tell me, what rituals have you observed or practiced when you enter sacred sites?

Leave a comment or question below and keep the conversation going!


image of kumu Jeana Iwalani Naluai

8 thoughts on “How to Enter Hawaiian Sacred Sites”

  1. This is a beautiful article. I’ve always wondered, and I know it might be a silly question but is it okay to hug the trees and touch the flowers at sacred sites? I’ve always loved connecting with the energy of nature through plants in that way.

  2. Thank you Jeana for your loving helpful Information. May I always be respectful and loving is my actions.

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