Dragon’s Teeth and The Sacred Stones of Makaluapuna
Makaluapuna is a sacred site that offers a formation of vertical stones or intra -flow breccia that were created by fire and water. Molten Honolua lava flowed from a vent for 10 km before being greeted with a wall of pounding surf. The evidence of this incredible collaboration has resulted in lava spires that stand upturned and resemble Dragon’s Teeth. Walking amidst these black rocks one can imagine these elemental forces of nature exploding into stillness around 610 A.D.
The cultural history of Makaluapuna, aka Dragon’s Teeth holds the deepest significance for native Hawaiians. The natural history of this sacred site makes for a powerful experience, as the stones are contemplative monuments that speak to the historical unison of nature and culture, offering a path of deeper understanding. The silence of these stones and the roar of the ocean seem to echo ancient stories from ancestral lands where fire and water profoundly speak for themselves.
I travelled to Makaluapuna, aka Dragon’s Teeth in 2006. I was so moved by these stones...to say the least, that when I returned in 2017 it felt like a pilgrimage to honour the stones, walking felt like praying. It’s hard to describe how I felt when I saw the enormous head of a dragon naturally occurring in the land from hundreds of meters away as I made my way to the “teeth”. It felt like a very personal discovery, a revelation that the light and the land was sharing with me. Had the Dragon had revealed itself to me as I offered my gratitude and prayers to the ancestors of native Hawaiians whom were buried there? Or am I just far too obsessed with stones and the meaning I impose upon them? Either way, this massive flow of Honolua lava that’s been shaped by waves for over a thousand years, stretches out towards the ocean like a sprawling Dragon from another time right in front of ones eyes, as if hiding in plain site depending on where one is standing, the time of day, etc... the sound of waves washing into and over the stones seem to speak in ancestral tongues as the language of the land whispers this slow poem of time with an ebb and flow that seems as natural as a dragon breathing.
Dragon’s Teeth is aptly named as the shape of the stones and their geological origins certainly fit the description but for Hawaiians this is a
misrepresentation of a sacred and ancient site. For native Hawaiians, Makaluapuna is a temple of wisdom, a place where people gather to honour the past, present and future and pray to Aumukua, a Guardian Angel that has ancestral powers, taking on the many forms of nature, offering glimpses into something greater. The ancestors are grieved but with the realization that they remain in the light. Aumukua can appear in the form of an animal, such as sharks, turtles, birds, and other animals... the power of this place offers opportunities for people to communicate and experience epiphanies sent from beyond. Aumukua, for me personally, is something I have always sensed in stones. It is a life force that holds the past and the future together, as if certain stones congeal the poetics of time and space. This train of thought comes close to representing my experience when I realized what I was looking at, seeing all the stones as one, this dragon shaped elegy revealed. I was subsequently and luminously pleased with the learning that followed regarding the sacred significance of Makaluapuna nearly a decade after I’d first travelled there. It really made sense and helped fortify my understanding.
Perhaps one of the most significant events that has happened around Makaluapuna was the development of the Kapalua Resort. Protests led to the developers changing their plans as they became aware of the largest pre-contact ancient burial site in Hawaii where the “iwi” or bones of over 1000 native Hawaiians lay in peace. Makaluapuna became Ground Zero for the Renaissance of Hawaiian culture as it set a benchmark that led to the legislation of laws for the protection of burial sites, beginning with Honokahua at Makaluapuna. This is the home of a cultural and spiritual site unequalled in Hawaii, ancient echoes of energy are felt in the wind, waves and stones all recognizing and honouring the ancestral power of place.
Makaluapuna is said to be a path to mediation, self awareness and spiritual balance as it is a place of light and dark, where equanimity exists between opposites or perhaps opposing forces like fire and water. It is said that the pilgrimage here allows for one to honour the “po”, the darkness, and the “ao”, the light. There is a prayer, or “pule” for those who know the language of the land, can recite when trying to summon their personal guardian for all things good. The poem can be found in a beautifully insightful article by Clifford Nae’ole that I’ve referenced below. https://kapaluainfo.com/makaluapuna-of-the-dark-and-the-light/
Thank you Hawaii. Mahalo iā 'oe Hawaii.