ALOHA from Hawaii!
I have just planted several baby sandalwood trees and chanted a Hawaiian nursery song to them to make sure they grow. “If you live, I live.” We sing in Hawaiian. I rub the Hawaiian dirt off my hands with a Thieves washer (this is a dry forest and all the water has to be brought in, so there are no taps for us). I feel satisfied with a job well-done, and don’t want to spoil my good luck by attracting a curse because of the Hawaiian soil. There are plenty of stories out there of people who took a lava rock home from these islands as a memory of their magical holiday, and as soon as they returned home, their lives started to fall apart. Most people end up sending their rock or soil samples back to the island!
Right now, we are at Haloa Aina, a Young Living’s partner grower for sandalwood essential oil. Haloa Aina is a reforestation project which spans thousands of acres on the western slope of the now inactive volcano, Mauna Loa.
We were welcomed by Wade Lee, the visionary behind sandalwood reforestation project in Hawaii. Wade is a distant descendant of the Hawaiian Royal family. His great- great (?) grandmother used to be the queen and Haloa Aina was part of her land. Legend has it that she was only queen for one day, and then she was poisoned by a rival, who took over the ownership of large tracts of land. Some years ago, Wade purchased the rights back. When the surveyor came out to do his job, he dropped his cigarette on the ground and started a bushfire. It went underground and burnt 3000 acres. Today you can still see the scars on the landscape.
Before Captain Cook set foot on the island, a million-people lived sustainably on Hawaii. If they had to take a tree from the forest for a canoe for instance, it would be immediately replaced with a seedling. They lived in complete harmony with Nature. The Europeans, Americans and South Africans changed all that. They introduced cows, horses and chopped down the majestic forests for ‘pasture’. The US military turned the interior of the island into a barren weapon testing wasteland, also destroying the beautiful forest. After there was nothing much left to take, the tourist industry took over, injected money into the economy and ‘saved the day’.
Farms here are now very marginal and on the surface, it seems like a workable solution to subdivide land off to housing and holiday estates, but here is a much better answer: restoring the forests while creating a sustainable economy and preserving the Hawaiian culture.
Wade is very unassuming and you would never guess that he is a college Chemistry and Physics professor, he also worked for US Fish and Wildlife service, and has a background in forestry and preserving native forests. Wade and his extended family understand the relationship between humans, plants, and ‘brother earth’, an understanding that goes beyond science. He would love to see the dry land forest (not unlike the highlands in Tasmania, a desolate landscape to my eyes) restored to its former glory, with trees over 100 feet high, creating a canopy native species and a sanctuary for birdlife. Multiple species of sandalwood thrived here for centuries, and the Royal Sandalwood (Santalum Paniculatum) is endemic to this island. Isn’t it amazing that we can obtain this rare essential oil from Young Living today?
In a little side room attached to the distillery we were shown the final product: open jars of amber liquid cooling off in water for 24 hours. Sandalwood has a rich, warm woodsy aroma that is traditionally used as incense in religious ceremonies to encourage deep meditation. (Today I apply it on my face at night, in the form of ‘3 wise men’ YL blend, which contains Frankincense, Sandalwood and Myrrh). As a spiritual oil, it helps you to feel uplifted rather than sweat the small stuff. Standing there in that little room with Wade’s son, who left a successful career behind to live a humble life with his wife and baby, here, on the side of the mountain, I felt a glimmer of hope for the world. If we all start connecting with our Mana we can manifest the impossible!
The Hawaiians believe that Mother (they call it ‘brother earth”) Earth has the solution to all our problems. Mana is the life energy that flows through all things, yet is highly individual. I guess you can call it your powerbase because Mana is empowering. The concept goes far beyond material possessions. You can tap into your Mana when you live in harmony with yourself and others, when you do random acts of service/kindness, and when you do meaningful work. It reminds me of how the ancients told us to gain enlightenment: before enlightenment chop wood and carry water- after enlightenment- chop wood and carry water. No wonder mums are the most enlightened beings in the world. They chop wood and carry water ( = do dishes, cook and clean and even supply the breastmilk) 24/7 and all this unpaid slavery comes straight from the heart/unconditional love. Nobody does love like your mum does!
Suddenly my Dutch brain kicks in and I do a quick calculation: 16 bottles, each containing 2 litres, times $4500 per litre, that comes to a total of $144000 worth of pure sandalwood oil. Sandalwood trees are valuable as gold, yet most of the people on the island have no idea of the potential of Sandalwood, for them, or for the world.
After lunch we all piled into our 4wheel drives and went for a drive around the forest. Misty clouds rolled in and the temperature dropped to 18C which was a pleasant reprieve from the 30C at our holiday resort near the sea. We were standing around on grass covered lava blocks and told stories of bushfires that go underground for kilometres, only to pop up in unexpected places to continue their destruction. One time a firefighting bulldozer dropped down into a lava tube. While Hawaii doesn’t have snakes or other dangerous creatures like Australia, it does offer its own challenges like lava tubes and very little rain, only 18 inches annually, in the dry forest districts which are 5000 feet above sea level.
For the sandalwood tree to grow and survive it literally needs to latch onto another kind of tree which supplies it with nitrogen. Its favourite host tree is the Koa tree, which looks a bit like an acacia tree. In the nursery they have just started experimenting with planting sandalwood seedlings in the same pot as a host tree.
Peter and I had fun doing our own experiment: we tested the energy field of the sad looking single sandalwood seedlings first. It only extended to about 5cm around the sapling. Next, we tested the Siamese twin seedlings, which were much happier looking paired up in their pots. That much was clear even to the untrained eye. I was not surprised to discover that their Mana was very strong and healthy: my hand bounced off their aura at the distance of 50 cm! That was a dramatic difference. I simply couldn’t understand why they weren’t all immediately transplanted in pots with a host seedling, but I kept those thoughts to myself. I am not a scientist like Wade, I am just a very experienced energy para-medic with the nurturing instincts of a matriarch of a huge Ohana (family/tribe), counting 6 sons, 6 daughters and 14 grandchildren.
Over its 70-year life span, a sandalwood will kill all five of its host trees. When the sandalwood begins to die, it starts producing its precious oil. Haloa Aina allows the sandalwood to go through its natural life cycle, and die, before they take it to the distillery, right here on the mountain. 2 separate lab tests follow to verify all the important medicinal components are present. Young Living does another test on it to be sure it meets their specs. It has never failed. YL buys almost all of the oil produced by Haloa Aina. Other companies have asked to buy the oil, but their values and standards did not align with Haloa Aina’s commitment to purity and respect for the land and the trees. Young Living and Haloa Aina form a true partnership.
Haloa Aina is not a farm as such. It is a pilot project to restore a native ecosystem. Who knows, it may even turn out to be a prototype that can be duplicated by other farmers on the island. And that is what Young Living is all about. It is first and foremost about relationships. From restoring our relationship with the soil, to native plant species living in harmony with introduced species (we can’t turn the clock back after all) to creating a community where all living creature prosper and live harmoniously together.
Every time you use a Young Living product say a word of thanks and appreciation for our visionaries, our farmers, the trees and other invisible forces who have contributed towards the liquid gold in your bottle. The benefits will start to flow over into your most important relationship of all: your connection with your own beautiful heart! This Sunday 1st Oct there will be a free intro to essential oils meeting 12-2pm at Smithton. Bring your friends and family.
This is followed by a Raindrop Therapy training valued at $200. However we charge $50 if you bring your own oils or $90 if we supply them. 2-5 pm Wyndarra Centre, Smithton. Booking for the Raindrop is essential. P 64283007.
Essential oil wellness classes will resume Monday 7-9 pm at 47 Wilmot Rd, Forth. Call 0408283008 to register your interest or to ask questions. See you then! Grada