Spiritual Galactagogues: Aligning Celestial Shifts and New cycles of Equity

Picture of The Māpuna Lab

The Māpuna Lab

Contributing Authors: Carolann Carl, Kealiʻi Poʻoloa & Marion Ano

The Galactic Gears Behind the Vernal Equinox
The journey of wāhine1 hood is more than often a non-linear experience with a road filled with trials, tribulations, and triumphs. Finding a moment of silence to reflect on the various forces on our lives can be difficult. And sometimes, it might just take a solar system event to encourage us to enjoy nature’s interface.  Today, we will come to experience the vernal equinox (spring equinox) both in the northern and southern hemispheres. I appreciate this time to learn about the larger forces, shifts, and movements happening in the vastness above and the galactic gears that will bring the solar declination to 0°. When this angle is set to 0° between the sun’s rays and the Equator, a phenomenon occurs in which a north to south vertical line, the solar terminator, appears on the Earth’s surface.
Solar Terminator

The vernal equinox is marked by the solar terminator as a vertical line between the north and south poles. Another notable feature of the equinox phenomena is the occurrence of roughly equal hours of day and night. Image credit:

Equinox on a Spinning Earth Image Credit: Meteosat 9, NASA, earthobservatory, Robert Simmon

As we aim to draw a deeper understanding between the equinox and International’s Women’s Day, we will use this galactic phenomena to inspire us to move towards the equality we experience together at every equinox. 


In Hawai’i, the vernal equinox also known as Ka māuiili o ke kupulau as shared in this blog post by the Hawaiian Civic Club of Wahiawā, marks the time of ecosystem renewal, a seasonal change marked by the transition away from heavier rains into sunnier and drier conditions. The forest, our pahu maʻukele (from the Kanilehua Framework) experiences new forest growth with the germination of seeds and the promise of new life and strengthening of our relationships.

Pahu Maukele

The pahu ma’ukele is the surrounding native forest with the ʻōhiʻa tree and its aerial roots embraced by the surrounding plants including koa trees, lauhala, kupukupu, and palapalai. Illustration by Kealiʻi Poʻoloa.

With that said, it is no surprise that Ka māuiili o ke kupulau occurs in March, the month in which we commemorate and elevate wāhine across the honua2. This is a time of renewed pilina3 and global echos to recognize the gravitational accomplishments and movements and also acknowledge continued work towards justice and equity for our kin. 
How do we connect ourselves to the galaxy? How do we align ourselves with its shifts?

We exist in a galaxy. The key elements that allow life to occur, hydrogen, carbon, phosphorus, nitrogen, oxygen, and sulfur, are found in the highest concentrations within the center of the galaxy. Earth, situated in one of the spiral arms of the Milky Way, lies about two-thirds of the way out from the center of our galaxy.  

Juxtapose this to the human body where the navel is argued to be its center, on a female body the uterus is located about two-thirds of the way out from our piko. Not only are we birthed into a galaxy, we are birthed from one. Just as life can erupt from the center of galaxies, so too can life erupt from the center of human bodies.  

Once born, we go through cycles of childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. As the sun and moon shift, our hormones shift with them; gravitational pulls affecting the very molecular makeup that makes us.

Humans are made of stardust. Each person contains minute traces of core elements from old stars whose star lifetimes ended billions of years ago. In the cycle of the human lifetime, we pass on our star elements leaving behind legacies and memories before becoming stars ourselves leaving our light to shine for generations.  

In the indigenous cosmology of the Native Hawaiians, we refer to as the Kumulipo, an ancient chant of creation that begins with essentially, the Big Bang, that there was this intense heat from the darkness.  The heat and the darkness gave birth to Kumulipo, a male and Poʻele a female. 

Afterwards, a coral insect is born, then an earthworm, then the starfish and so forth.  From the very beginning, the earth was being created through birth.  Haumea, the goddess of birthing, comes in the form of the mother of all Hawaiians as the grandmother of Hāloanakalaukapalili, the stillborn child of Wākea (sky father) and Hoʻohokukalani (his daughter who sets the stars in heaven and celestial regions). 

Wākea and Hoʻohokukalani grieve the loss of their pē Hāloanakalaukapalili and weep over his burial.From his form grows the kalo plant and later, Hoʻohokukalani and Wākea give birth to Hāloa, the first kanaka.  So we really are created from stardust! 

This incredibly important brother relationship is the foundation for our reciprocal relationship with the land. 

“He aliʻi ka ʻāina, he kauwā ke kanaka.” This ʻōlelo noʻeau means the land is the chief, and its people are its servants.  As we prepare to celebrate Piko ʻo Wākea, we look to celebrate the earth, our greatest Mother with reverence and respect in all ways, in all times.  

A Collective Call to Action

Today, the vernal equinox will arrive into our universal user interface. We may not see it, but we will feel it. Our solar system, a human wonder for time immemorial, begs us to think vastly, to join in with and for our communities across the globe to restore pono, balance, and equity for our wāhine. Can we create that equinox when it comes to our humanity? If so, what will you do to create that balance between seemingly opposing and overpowering forces? This perfect angle struck between Sun and Earth creating the equinox is a reminder that much more work needs to be done to strike that balance for humanity on Earth.

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1 plural of wahine. Nā wāhine, the women. (Source: Nā Puke Wehewehe ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi)
2nvs. Land, earth, world  (Source: Nā Puke Wehewehe ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi)
3n. Association, relationship, union, connection, meeting, joining, adhering, fitting. 
 (Source: Nā Puke Wehewehe ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi)

Kākuhihewa

(c. 1540-1634)

Kākuhihewa is the 15th aliʻi ‘aimoku (ruling chief) of O‘ahu famously named in the mele “Kaulana Nā Pua.” Kākuhihewa was a kind and friendly chief who was born in Kūkaniloko and raised in the ‘Ewa moku. His primary endeavor was farming, and it is said that his abundant harvests on O‘ahu could be smelled from Kaua‘i.

Today, there is a state office building named after him in Kapolei.