Thursday, June 28, 2007

Godhood: The Downside

So at the age of 2 years and about 9 months, I was a pre-school messiah for the Hawaiian Nation.

At first I had no real concerns. Lono had dropped Christian ideas into our conversation, but almost everything was from Genesis. There had been only one passing reference to Jesus and we hadn't gone into detail about what had happened to Jesus. No mention of anything to do with crosses, hangings on trees, scourgings, or things of that nature. Being a messiah was all about leading people where they should go, as I understood it. It was like being a Captain, only you were the boss of more people.

I knew that some study would be required, in order to know what best to do. But I figured I had plenty of time for that. Lani said I wouldn't do my work as messiah until I was grown up. I didn't know how long that would be but I figured it would take at least a year.

Then Lani dropped a bomb on the whole idea. It came in the form of remarks concerning kapu.

Kapu is Hawaiian for taboo. We were talking about the ancient Hawaiian taboo system. The discussion came up in a weird way. I had mentioned having seen an unusual hut at the place where I had heard the Kaulilua song. I described it to Lani and Lono and they described it as a menstrual hut.

They said that when the women were bleeding, they had too much mana so they had to stay in the menstrual huts. It was required by the kapu.

I had to repeat my promise not to speak to others about our conversations in order to get that far. They told me how White People have their own kapu, which is not to talk about such things.

Other aspects of the kapu were brought up, like the fact that the women ate separately from the men, or that certain foods were prohibited.

The way kapu was explained to me was that there were two worlds, the world of gods and animals, and the world of humans. The kapu is a wall created by humans holding hands together to keep the gods and animals out of the human world.

So the kapu separates wild from tame, rather than sacred from profane. But the feelings are the same. When kapu is broken it feels like chaos is near at hand. Which is also the feeling that inspires "reverence" in Westerners -- the word means "fear" -- of divine "rapture" -- a word meaning to be stolen away violently.

So religious ceremonies in the tradition were preceded by prayers for a temporary lifting of kapu, under carefully planned circumstances.

Without kapu there could be no society. Kapu was needed for safety and security. Lani reeled off more and more of the rules of kapu and it became too much to take in.

I asked how anyone could remember it all. Lani said I didn't need to learn it all, because I was outside the kapu. The rules didn't apply to me, all I had to do was not hurt people, and I'd be fine.

But... the kapu is what keeps people together, he had said. So I said, but how can i be outside of the kapu if I'm one of the people he said.

Now, at the time I still had a visible scar on my head from being hit by the car. It started on the right side of my forehead and ran back to the right into my hair. Lani pointed to the scar and said, "Because of this, you would be outside of the kapu."

I was starting to cry and I asked what else did that mean besides not having to know the rules (which I had wanted to know!) and he said that, for example, I wouldn't be able to marry.

That was too much.

I went from feeling adopted to feeling myself an outcast in one conversation. I was worse than an outcast. I was non-human.

So what if I was a child of the gods in a human form if I wasn't going to be treated as a human?

It wasn't that I wanted to marry some day. it was that I thought that I was finally not being treated as an animal, and here I was being told that the rules of kapu meant that what my parents did to me demanded that I be treated as non-human. Why is it that my parents get their way after all? Why am I to be punished and not them?

After that session I stopped going to see Lani and Lono. I decided that I would find friends my own age, or I wouldn't have friends. I was angry.

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