One of the things I really loved about Sounding Circles 2011 was the way we embraced the Hawaiian traditions as best we could. Joule arranged for a delightful and powerful chanter named Lanikila to lead us in a traditional Hawaiian opening ceremony.
Lanikila taught us a chant in which we claimed our own space, that spoke of how we are part of everything from the east to the west, from one edge of the Universe to the other. We created an altar where we had placed a crystal bowl. Each of us had brought some water from our homes to be combined with the others, and then carried back We were also invited to bring a few special things to be placed on the altar during the week, items that symbolized the lessons we wanted to learn and take away.
Then Lanikila sat quietly and asked us, one at a time, "who are you?" To Hawaiians, you name your parents and grandparents and where they came from, and then describe yourself as part of the land. Lanikila said that his parents were from Hawai'i Island, and at least one grandparent was from Scotland. He said that his ocean was the Pacific, and his mountain was Mauna Kea. He went on to name other places that he identified with.
I said, for example, that my parents and grandparents came from New Mexico and Texas. My mountains were the Rocky Mountains. That my trees were the aspen. That I came from the Sky and the Clouds, and felt very old. I brought water from my house, and because I live in the country, we catch our own rain. It was nice to have water that hadn't (recently) touched the ground.
I brought a clay smile that I had made in an art therapy workshop, and a few items that tended to end up inside the clay mouth.
After everyone had said who they were, where they were from and had brought their water, we felt like we were off to a great start.