Cy Bridges Mea Oli

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In November, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs published Mana Lāhui Rising, a multidimensional study of mana: what it is, how to articulate it, and how to access and cultivate it in order to uplift our lāhui. The book shared mana‘o from community contributors, such as Cy Bridges, on using culture and traditional knowledge as a foundation for how we advance in the world today.

There’s been so many mana-ful moments that I’ve experienced throughout my life.

There’s so many but I have shared one quite a number of times in respect to one of my aunts, and that was aunty Margaret Machado.

Before going to a family reunion, I was at home, packing up in Hau‘ula and I knew had to get to the doctor – I was sick, I wasn’t feeling well. But I said “No,” I had to catch a flight. I looked at the time and we caught the flight to Kona, got situated in the hotel, went down to our reunion.

As we were sitting at this long table, she was about six to eight people away from me. I had a baseball cap and dark glasses on, and she kept looking at me, and she said, “Boy, are you okay? You have dizzy spells? You have a headache?” And I kept saying “No,” and my cousins were laughing, “Watch out the witch doctor!”

We were making fun, as we always do, and she asked me three times. The third time she said, “Turn around, take your glasses off, look at me in my eyes.” And then she came around and she put her hands on my shoulders, and she gave me a whack on my arm. “Don’t you lie to aunty, don’t you lie to aunty, when I ask you if you’re not feeling well, you know, feel this.” And she told me that there was a knot there, my circulation was being cut off.

Then she started. She did a pule and she started to lomi my fingers, my arm. We continued talking story with everyone but from that time on, I never ever, ever, made fun. I had the deepest respect. That aunty, like several others in the family, portrayed for me, exemplified the mana that our kūpuna had.

That is one of a number of mana moments. To be able to be in their presence growing up, I was so privileged. And mana is something that is so important for us. I believe that in all that we do here in our society, I hope that we can accomplish one thing, and that’s to be able to put that element of mana back into the lāhui so we can move forward in a very positive way, with our heads on straight.

That’s my mana moment.