THE HISTORY OF THE EARTHSONG FOUNDATION
In Hawai‘i, as in all indigenous cultures, there is a strong relationship between the people and the ʻāina (the land). For some Hawaiians land symbolizes life and in pre-Christian times land symbolized mana (power). Gratitude for the ʻāina is expressed by showing respect and reciprocity, tending, protecting, honoring, beautifying and keeping it well nourished.
So, in the spirit of aloha we want to give a brief history of who has been a part of the blessing, cultivating, and caring for Earthsong. We believe it’s also important to learn about the history of a place because if one is sensitive that energy can be felt presently. Fortunately, the intention put into this land has long been centered around healing with the earth and with each other.
While we do not know the details of the ancient history on this particular parcel of land, we do know that Ka Lae, where this land sits, holds significant meaning to the Hawaiian people. It is believed this area is where the original Polynesian settlers arrived on the islands. Ruins of an ancient Hawaiian temple, called a Heiau, several petroglyphs and a fishing shrine can be found nearby.
The Earthsong retreat was founded in 1990 as a healing eco-sanctuary by earth-steward, architect/builder, artist, eco-activist, musician and writer Rashani Réa. When Rashani first saw the land, in 1988, it was somewhat overgrown and had several bee hives and 2 modest dwellings on it, which had been built by a Sufi teacher, Mark Anderson, the previous steward. One was a small cottage reconstructed from an old plantation house on the Hamakua coast and the other was a small octagon built from a redwood water tank.
Earthsong remained a wahine (women) only retreat for many years before kane (men) were also invited in and so one may feel the land as being held by a strong feminine energy. “It was a unique multi-generational, psycho-spiritual laboratory for the Deep Feminine”, Rashani shared, “We questioned everything, discovered who we were beneath the many false labels and mis-identities and collectively redefined ‘power’ and the sacred.” Women came from many parts of the world to participate in women’s councils and to help build the simple off-grid structures. Countless of these councils plus many kirtans, participatory concerts, and intensives have taken place here.
The original name given to this land by a Maori elder was “Tangi Whenua.” As with all ancient languages, there is not a literal translation but many meanings embedded within it, including “cry of the earth”. Translated into Hawaiian it became “Na Mele O Ka ‘Aina,” which holds the meaning of “Songs of the land.” From this, the name morphed into “Earthsong.”
With the help of hundreds of volunteers over many years, the retreat center took birth, including other sacred structures such as the Makala, otherwise known as the “healing temple” where much healing has taken place. All of the structures were built in harmony with the earth, utilizing natural and recycled materials whenever possible. Countless women and men contributed their time, skills, and devotion into the land and vision to support its growth.
Reading through the hundreds of testimonials from people’s experiences in guest books dating between 1990 and 2006 expresses the power of this land, the impact it’s made on so many, and the love, tears, and laughter sewn into the seeds planted here. Here are just a few excerpts from these handwritten love notes to Earthsong:
In addition to the dwellings and buildings many fruit trees were planted that today stand tall and bare fruit. From its inception the garden was treated organically and when Rashani passed the land onto husband and wife, Michael and Jillian Packman in 2013 they continued incorporating biodynamic and korean natural farming methods to nurture the soil organically producing more and more fruit trees, vegetables, and medicinal plants. Healers themselves, the Packmans continued holding retreats and healing sessions here, often working with plant medicines and tinctures they cultivated from the land. In 2017 they formed the 501(c)(3) organization, Earthsong Foundation, aiming to provide permaculture and sustainability education and to provide support for the local community in need. Michael and Jillian had their first child at Earthsong, and became pregnant with their second child in 2020 when they decided it was time to pass the stewardship of the land and foundation onward.
The land’s song called us and we listened – Aloha, we are Earthsong’s current caretakers and stewards Elena and Ryan. We are both healers, teachers, creators, and world explorers.
Earthsong Hawai’i was in need of love and restoration by the time it found us/we found it. We are currently pouring our energy into repairs to various structures, building and replanting dozens of gardens, pruning and clearing for fruit trees to flourish, and breathing new life into the retreat center.
How we came to find Earthsong, or better yet, how it found us is a tale filled with many synchronicities that we can’t possibly list here. Perhaps if you come for a visit we will share the full story in a gathering around the fire. To summarize, It is a direct result of 2020 – all of it’s endings and subsequent new beginnings and through our union in love that we are here today. In February of 2020 we met in the republic of Panama, land of Elena’s ancestry and Ryan’s self-built homestead. We all know what happened globally in March of 2020, and because of this Elena was mandated to close her beloved wellness center Peace of Mind Massage after 11 years serving the Denver community. This ending gave way to a new beginning for Ryan and Elena co-stewarding Earthsong Hawai’i and co-directing the Earthsong Foundation.
Earthsong is a 501c3 organization focused on sustainability, food sovereignty, and service. Which is why In January of 2022 we opened Earthsong as a community hub for donation based holistic healing classes and gatherings for the local community and visitors. We also built a roadside farm stand where we offer surplus fruit and produce made available by donation. Our intention is to continue expanding our reach and capacity to serve the land and community while also practicing living simply and walking gently on the earth.
With Ryan’s knowledge and experience in permaculture and Elena’s background in community facilitation, plus our shared love of holistic health, Earthsong has called to it two passionate stewards. We are now writing the on-going story of Earthsong with input and support from our global network, evolving the vision while honoring its rich history and legacy. It is our reverence for the Earth and the Ocean that has led us here and guides us forward.