Lonopuha: The Origin of Healing

October 26, 2020

Lonopuha: The Origin of Healing

In Hawaiian mythology, Lono is the god of fertility, agriculture, rainfall, music, and peace. There is an ancient legend that tells of the origin of the Art of Healing and how Lono aspired to be a healer and became “Lonopuha.” The legend begins by telling how Lono takes human form, and became chief for the people who lived on the west side of Waiohinu at Kiolakaa. One day, he strikes his foot while using his digging stick causing a wound that begins to bleed profusely. He is then taught by  Kamakanuiʻahaʻilono, the kahuna lapa'au, or medical priest, how to lay on a poultice of popolo leaves, a practice that is still effectively used by the Native Hawaiians for open wounds. He is shown the properties of medicinal herbs. He becomes inspired by the healing of Kamakanuiʻahaʻilono to become a medical healer.

After being healed by Kamakanuiʻahaʻilono, he gives up his rank as village chief to become a medical healer and learn from the kahuna lapa'au. At one point, the kahuna tells Lono to open his mouth and he proceeds to spit inside. That made Lono become skillful in the art of healing — thus making Lono become Lonopuha. Afterwards, Lono and Kamakanuiʻahaʻilono traveled across the islands to cultivate the knowledge and art of medicine in order to help heal those in need.

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