Honu Medicine

This article has been kindly contributed by friend, Alakai  and Huna and Shamanic Teacher Jonathan Hammond.


When one thinks of Hawaii, images of Topaz-blue water, palm trees, emerald mountains come to mind, as do the lithe pretty girls and tattooed muscular men tantalizing us with their exotic Hula movements. But if you have spent actual time on any of the islands, you’ll know that nothing is more symbolic of Hawaii than the turtles which live in abundance in the waters there.

Years ago, while vacationing in Belize, I had a dream one night of a large green sea turtle making contact with me, calling to me to swim with it, and taking me to far away mystical landscapes underneath the ocean. While snorkeling the very next day, I came face to face with the very turtle of my dream and had a long face to face encounter with it. I had a deep knowing that Turtle was a spirit ally for me—my power animal—and since then I have had so many enchanted experiences and meetings with Turtle; so much so that they have become commonplace occurrences in my life.

From a shamanic perspective, turtles symbolize patience, perseverance, longevity, determination and ancient earth-wisdom. In Huna, we believe that creative energy is elicited from the universe based on wherever we place our focus and our attention, and that that energy helps to manifest our material existence. Turtles exemplify the power of focus—they expertly navigate the vast ocean waters by receiving direction from the sun, moon winds, and stars and by feeling into the earth’s electro-magnetic fields. No matter how far they may have traveled across tremendous oceanic distances, a few times a year they somehow always manage to maneuver themselves back to the very beach of their birth in order to bury their eggs in the sand; a process that has been going on for millions of years.

The Hawaiians have a word that elucidates the power of our focused intent that is called ahonui which means “patience,” and its more pointed definitions are “enduring” and “perseverance.” Ahonui can also mean “great breath.” Breaking down the word further, Aho means “to exert great effort,” nui can be translated as “maximum” or “magnitude” and honu is the Hawaiian word for turtle. In other words, patience is not just waiting around for what we want, it’s about actively showing up with persistence; moment by moment and breath by breath until we get it—just as turtles do.

Scientists believed that turtles have maintained the same form and shape over hundreds of millions of years which may be why many indigenous cultures see the turtle as a symbolic representation of the earth itself; as holders of secret wisdom about the origins of life

To connect with turtle medicine is to fully accept your inherent right to belong on this earth. Just as the turtle wears its home on its back, you are also always “at home” no matter where you happen to be, but you also have to be forthright about creating clear and strong boundaries in the face of danger. Your inner peace comes from approaching your life goals with steadfast determination (but at a slow and steady pace) and mirroring Turtles’ connection to water, to trust the wisdom of your emotions to guide you.

Go with the tides, surrender, trust and persevere, and you will get where you are supposed to be going!

Take some time to nalu the photos I have collected on my some of my travels in Hawaii of Turtle depicted in numerous rock-beings.


[Nalu is a useful contemplation technique. In its simplest form this involves taking some time to look at the image, tuning in and noticing what you notice.  Stop when you feel satisfied that it is the right time to stop. If you want to share your experiences get in touch]

Jonathan Hammond is is a New York City-based Huna and Shamanic Teacher, Practitioner and Spiritual Counselor. He is also Author of 'The Shaman’s Mind - Huna Wisdom to Change Your Life' which will be released in July 2020.  His website is www.mindbodyspiritnyc.com

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