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Oli: Hawaiian Chants for Wisdom, Well-Being and Preservation

For thousands of years until the 1820s, Hawaiians relied on story-telling for remembering – for wisdom-keeping. Before the missionaries applied a Latin-based alphabet to the Hawaiian language, Hawaiians passed down stories of history and myth from generation to generation through song, hula and chants – oli. hula kahiki Through oli the Hawaiians recorded information – births and deaths, tales of love and triumph, genealogy – and preserved prayers. Hawaiians of every social rank, from the maka’aiana – common people – to the royal ali’i, composed poetic chants, an ancient tradition that is unique to Hawaiian culture. Depending on who heard a chant and how they interpreted its double meanings (koana), the oli beautifully depicted events and people through imagery and themes in many different ways. This use of koana proved especially significant when the missionaries arrived in Hawai’i and tried to end the practice of oli and hula. ancient hula Because of koana, Hawaiians were able to compose rich chants that seemed plain but carried deeper meanings amongst one another – a practice that allowed Hawaiians to share their most intimate thoughts and emotions. There are different types of chants that are performed in various styles, from fast and rhythmic to soft and drawn-out. They are beautiful, sorrowful, joyful, proud. Oli carries a great spiritual energy, mana, and connects us to our ancestors, allowing us to see the world through their eyes and bring their values into our modern lives.
In our lomi lomi healing retreats, oli plays a significant role in connecting us with one another, with our practice, and with our ancestors.
In ancient times, lomi lomi practitioners learned to speak with the spirit within each plant or stone. From the ‘aina we request assistance with our healing work, approaching injury and disdain from a holistic healing perspective rooted in the wisdom of our ancestors and in Aloha. Healing chants and prayers offer us today a technique for connecting to our inner wisdom and becoming receptive to intuitive guidance, so that we can bring alignment to the spiritual, physical, mental and emotional levels of the person we seek to heal.
This chant is about life, health and well-being.
E Ola Kakou” expresses that we are life, we are vitality, and when we come together with our knowledge in Aloha, we are united in divine guidance.
Aloha from Northern Edge Algonquin on Vimeo
E ola kakou E ike kakou E ola na kini e E ike ka lokahi e Aloha e Aloha e Aloha e
What emotions does this chant evoke for you?
Tell us about your experiences with oli, whether in practicing healing chants or in listening to them, in the comments below.

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9 thoughts on “Oli: Hawaiian Chants for Wisdom, Well-Being and Preservation”

  1. Aloha – I believe the word you’re looking for is “kaona”, not “koana”. Koana means something very different than a hidden meaning. Mahalo for the article.

    1. Mahalo for your insight Keawe, that may have just been a typo or a problem with transcription. We will be sure to make this correction. We appreciate you pointing this out so it is clear to our community. Aloha to you

  2. I’m trying to find the Pule ho’ola A’ai mano I none. It’s in our book from training but I wanted to hear it chanted so I could repeat and use is on the virus and for friends that are sick. Substitution of the word world for child would be good too for virus. Mahalo

  3. I miss all the chants!
    In practicing LomiLomi at home, I have fused it into every session, but my confidence in a language that is not my own, and a voice that I have little faith in, I have been shy to share them with clients.
    I think that fear is coming to an end.
    Thanks for all the videos on YouTube – they are becoming a ritual of mine to listen to.

    1. Aloha Catalyst, other therapists have shared this same sentiment. I have three pieces of advice that may help, 1-practice makes perfect 2- imagine that the voice of spirit it moving through your chant in the same way that spirit healing pours through your hands. 3-you know that saying dance like no one is watching? The chant is not a performance it is a gift from your heart to theirs and sing your heart out sister.

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