Ho’okupu: Offerings at Makapu’u

When I visit certain places in Hawaii it is almost as if I can “feel” the place through the energy of the land, the power of the ocean, and the vastness of the sky.  It is not something I can see and it is not awe when presented with the beauty of nature – it is something more – it feels sacred.

I believe that what I am feeling is mana, a sacred spiritual force that native Hawaiians believe is present in all people, places and even inanimate things.

This series started with a visit to Makapu’u on Oahu’s eastern shore where I became fascinated by the offerings, known in Hawaii as ho’okupu, that were laid upon and around the rocks that sit in a loose circle atop a mound overlooking the ocean.  The literal definition of ho’okupu is “to sprout, to activate growth” and Hawaiians believe that these offerings are a way of strengthening the mana of their gods and in return they receive mana through the act of ho’okupu.

Over time, as I photographed the ho’okupu at Makapu’u I became more aware of the mana in other locations that I visited and it is in honor of that feeling of mana and the spirit of ho’okupu that I share these images…

Click on the first image to view in a slideshow.