🌋  myth as emergent landscape

11x11”, pen and ink on paper

I had the chance to study Hawaiian mythology in 2021 with University of Hawaii professor and kumu (teacher/wisdom holder) Ka’imi Summers. during this incredible course, we explored Hawaiian myths and genealogies in the context of their highly-specific places of origin, i.e. the landscapes from which they emerged. 

inspired by the real creatures, plants, and rocks endemic to the islands, and fascinated by Hawaiian word makawalu, meaning (literally) eight-eyed, I set out on a speculative search for the mythical origins of makawalu amongst eight-eyed kupua (creatures and beings) within Hawaiian mythology. these four ink drawings show a hillside of rocks (1); the ope’ape’a, or Hawaiian hoary bat (Hawaii’s only endemic mammal) (2-3) ; and the “happy-face” Theridion grallator spider (4), as endemic beings of the landscape who are also “eight-eyed.”

I experienced a shift of understanding when I came to perceive that Hawaiian mythology, like the myths of other cultures, contains  vestiges — whole, fractured, and hybrid — of original or endemic life forms. myth emerges from landscape. I now better understand mythology as a storehouse of sacred, place-based, and indigenous knowledge, and I am grateful for this learning opportunity as a way to better understand a special and complex place that my family has called home.