The Birthstones

I have always loved the islands of Hawaii. My love for these islands began with my dad telling me stories of his adventures as a missionary serving there. And once I landed there as a college student at BYU-Hawaii, I understood why. There is truly something special about the Hawaiian islands and while some may think it is the beauty of the lush landscape and beaches, I believe it goes much deeper. The Hawaiian culture is rich with ohana (family) and ha (the breath of life).

My husband and I recently celebrated 20 years of marriage and decided to take a trip to Kaua’i. Some friends of ours recommended we use The Ultimate Kaua’i Guidebook to plan our trip. I don’t usually bother with guidebooks but I am glad we did. I had no idea that Kauai was hiding so many treasures. Among them are the heiau, ancient Hawaiian temples. They are structures made completely of lava rock and were used for religious purposes. There are seven heiau stretching from the mouth of the Wailua River to the top of Mount Wai’ale’ale. The Birthstones are one of them. It is in this location that all kings of Kaua’i were to be born. The Wailua River Valley was a sacred and cherished area of the island.

The Sacred Wailua River Valley
The Birthingstones
The mother to be was to give birth between these two large stones.
One of the stones supported her while the other is where she placed her legs for support during the birth. They are named Pohaku Hoohanau.
Another view of one of the Pohaku Hoohanau
Inside the rock wall there was a grass hut where the mother would reside until the birth. The Birthingstones are to the left on the outside of this rock wall.
This flat stone covered the remains of a sacrificed dog, a warning indicating that this place is “kapu” or forbidden to commoners.
The Pohaku Piko is the umbilical stone. The newborn’s umbilical cord was placed in the large crack. Legend states that if a rat came and took the cord then it was a sign that the child would grow to be thief. If no rat came, all was well.
I know I already posted this picture above but now take a look at it to view the Pohaku Piko and its large crack from farther away. The large crack is next to the rectangular sign.

The first time I tried to find the Birthingstones I was in the wrong location farther up the river. They are literally on the corner of where you turn to drive next to the Wialua River. No harm done because we saw another heiau where we were looking across the street from Opaeka’a Falls. Somewhere before that is situated the Bellstone which if hit just right produces a metallic clank sound that was believed to have been heard throughout the entire Wialua River Valley. The Bellstone was used to herald the birth of a new chief.

I think it is wise to understand and be aware of our culture and history surrounding birth. And this little visit was good for me. I am not Hawaiian but who knows, maybe I will yet have a client that is. Either way, this little piece of history highlights the sacredness of birth which is what the The Gift of Giving Life is about. A few years ago I searched and searched for information about the birthing practices of Native American tribes in my area and had a difficult time finding information. (I probably just need to know where to look or haven’t looked hard enough yet.) I feel it is a treasure to have this piece of history well documented.

The island of Oahu is also home to Birthingstones called Kukaniloko. Someday I will make my way there too. Have you ever visited a sacred birthing site while travelling? Please tell us about it. I think before I travel to a new place I just might have to look into any local historical birthing sights. (Only a birth junkie would do this right?) Happy Travels.

*I apologize if I got any of the Hawaiian culture or history wrong here. If so it was unintended. Let me know so I can get it right. I got most of my information from my guidebook and the historical markers at the heiau sites.