E Hō Mai

E Hō Mai

E Hō Mai” is a Hawaiian chant for knowledge and understanding. An individual can chant this as a private prayer, and groups can chant this at the start of cultural activities.


Cloudy skies always make me feel like cocooning. My instincts tell me to stay home, to put on an old sweater, to pull on some sweat pants, and to keep a throw within reach. Often I’ll also feel the need to write.

I’m a self-diagnosed introvert by nature, so looking for an excuse to cocoon seems in line with my personality. And when this introvert hunkers down, she hunkers inward. Thoughts and curiosities, left to simmer on the back burners of my mind, come bounding to the foreground.

So I stir the pot, and I gingerly spoon tastes to my mouth. I try to deconstruct the stews of my emotions and imaginings. I name the ingredients – insecurity, joy, resentment, gratitude, longing, infatuation, selfishness, humility, vanity, excitement, fear – mine or those of others, real or fictitious.

With each ingredient I name, my tangled thoughts and emotions loosen. The knots unravel, giving way to soft drops or torrents of relief. I dance in the shower of expression, jumping from puddle to puddle, smiling at the birth of my articulation.

My writing, like a prayer, answered and blessed with understanding.


E hō mai (i) ka ʻike mai luna mai ē
ʻO nā mea huna noʻeau o nā mele ē
E hō mai, e hō mai, e hō mai ē (a)

Give forth knowledge from above
Every little bit of wisdom contained in song
Give forth, give forth, oh give forth
-Edith Kanakaole

Copyright: Living off Island, writingwahine, 2014.

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