My Tribute to My Dear Aunty Margaret
August 21, 1916 ~ December 28, 2009
On Dec. 28, three days after her dearest friend's birthday, our precious Aunty Margaret Machado, the Lomilomi Lady of Kona, made her final transition, releasing her well-used 93 year old Hawaiian body.
While Aunty very successfully completed her life and it was her time to go, it is a great loss and we can kindly direct our prayers to her grieving family. Aunty died peacefully at home, with a smile on her face.
All of us who knew Aunty were blessed to be touched by Kalehuamakanoelulu'uonapali's generous healing energy-and especially blessed if we were fortunate to learn Lomilomi directly from the loving hands of this master teacher.
It was a great honor to know my teacher/mentor and precious friend-who will forever remain very dear to my heart. She was an Ambassador of Aloha, honored as a "Hawaii's Living Treasure," known far and wide around the globe for her lifelong devotion to serving others with her special gift: the sacred art of Hawaiian rejuvenation called Lomilomi.
It was my tremendously good fortune to meet this amazing woman, live near her, study with her, love her and be loved by her since the early 70'--something for which I shall be forever grateful as it was the most transforming experience of my entire life. While I was blessed to be one of her very first students in 1974, I was certainly not the the last student to be transformed in this way, given the gift of ancient Hawaiian training. Thousands have come after me, all with similar
stories of this life-transforming experience.
During her long and loving lifetime, this icon of healing was a caring wife to her husband, Uncle Dan, known as her "co-pilot" for 65 years. She was also a wonderful mother raising 3 daughters, and one son, until her late 60's, when she and Uncle Dan adopted yet another daughter.
Actually, Aunty's work as a healer began before she was born. I say that because her name, Kalehuamakanoelulu'uonapali, a name describing her healing work, was given to her by her respected grandfather before her birth. Her Hawaiian name came to him in a dream, in the ancient tradition of Hawaiian families. While each word may have 6 different meanings, briefly we can say her name describes her healing future, being like a lehua flower shinning bright hope through the rainy mist on a hillside.
When Kalehua was a young child, she was visited by her grandfather, a healing kahuna of the Alii class (whose last name, Aha'ula Keali'i, in ancient times, was not allowed to be uttered by commoners). He chanted over this one "chosen" granddaughter, passing on the sacred kahuna gift of healing thru divine invocation in the traditional Hawaiian way. This man, known as Ko'o (which means "strong"), was well known in the Napoopoo area for his ability "to set things right" using Ho'oponpono. He also knew of a lost art of using pebbles or ele ele stones with
his lomilomi work.
At an young age, Kalehua's mother died and her family put her in a missionary school where they called her "Margaret". She learned from these kind missionaries about the teachings of Jesus, her dear friend from that time forward, whose lessons she took to heart, making her a woman of deep and abiding Faith (with a capital "F") along with incomparable, deep understanding and compassion.
Margaret started doing healing massage when she was in her teens, working on her football playing relatives and classmates. In case you don't know what lomilomi is about, it is a system that uses a variety of massage strokes to release areas of congestion in the body. Aunty's Lomilomi improves a person physically, mentally and spiritually body thru focused and dedicated rhythmic application of thumbs, knuckles, forearms and elbows, releasing tension and soothing the soul. More important than technique, the ancestors and the Divine Creator are invoked to assist in the healing. Lomilomi is both seriously therapeutic and soothing, as it relaxes the nervous system, increases circulation and creates a tangible sense of well being that comes from feeling deeply loved and cared for, nurtured by the Universe.
Over the years, Aunty proceeded to give relief from pain and stress to thousands of relatives, friends and strangers-many of whom would testify to her miraculous ability to heal. I personally witnessed a number of these miracles--which she would never take credit for. She has always humbly praised the person's miraculous body for healing itself, saying it is the Creator's work.
Once I saw Aunty take a spoon away from her cancer-ridden friend who was laboriously stirring some soup with a deep scowl of determination on her face. "No, Aloha. Not like this,"--she imitated her friend, Aloha's, rigid stirring method and painful facial expression. "Like this,"she said. Aunty proceeded to sway with the spoon like a hula dancer, smiling with genuine joy as she stirred the soup. Oddly enough, Aloha recovered from her lymphoma, not unlike many others
patients of Aunty's that the doctors had written off as terminally ill. Aloha lived a happy life for many years, thanks to Aunty's teaching.
Perhaps as much as 30 years ago, Aunty told me she set aside her Hawaiian ways when she adopted the Christian faith. I asked her that if she denied her gift from her grandfather, being an authentic cultural expert, then who would carry on the tradition of her ancestors? I think it was the next time I saw Aunty, she told me, "I am a Kahuna Haha-that is a kahuna with the healing touch." She owned her gift realizing that the Christianity and Hawaiian beliefs were not mutually exclusive. Publicly, in the kahuna fashion, she never claimed to be a kahuna.
Combining her Christian beliefs with her Hawaiian heritage, I can safely say that Kalehua Aunty Margaret Machado, was the Queen of Unconditional Love. I recall only one time when Aunty gently criticized someone. It was a woman who had been awake all night, disturbing people who were learning from her at the Keei massage school. I wondered how Aunty would handle this situation. I was amazed at the gentle way she spoke to this disturbed, bi-polar woman, telling her simply, "My god is a god of Order, not of Chaos. If you want to stay here, you can not worship
a god of Chaos."
Aunty stressed to all of us students, "Love this body as if it is your own body". This message of course has an important double meaning. "Love this body as if it is your own body." Aunty knew that one must appreciate this amazing gift of life before being able to give pure-hearted love to others.
Aunty frequently advised us to relax our hands and bodies so that we could administer what she called the "loving touch." Aunty also stressed. "I breathe with the person", using the (ha) breath to exhale pain. Another quote of Aunty's I like to repeat to people on the table is how she would whisper, with her garlicky breath, "Lomilomi works fast you know."
It is not only Hawaiian massage that Aunty taught. She also taught Hawaiian herbs and the importance of eating properly. She also taught a course in cleansing the intestinal tract as well as purifying the soul with Ho'oponono before going to sleep at night. The most important gift Aunty taught, in my opinion, is the importance of having the true Spirit of Aloha, enjoying life, laughing, singing and being loving, kind and generous in every way. Graduation ceremonies always ended with a big luau with lots of food, laughter and fun. "Making leis is fun, you know" is another line of Aunty's I like to recall her saying gleefully. At these graduation parties, Jews, Buddhists, atheists, Christians and people of all faith joyously sang together, "Life Is But a Circle," holding hands in a circle with Aunty—all with happy hearts and big smiles. Aunty invited us, in her open-hearted way, to be part of her very large but intimate Lomilomi Ohana (family). With her open-hearted way of loving, Aunty made us aware of being what I like to call Ohana of the World.
I had the precious honor of being the "court photographer" for Aunty. The photo (at right) I'm most proud of, taken on her 65th birthday, captured her essence and made her a "cover girl" for Massage Magazine. Thousands of people could feel her inner beauty and magic when they saw this photo. This is the official photo used on the Aunty Margaret website introducing many people to her loving presence.
Aunty Margaret was in her 50's when she began teaching the gift of Lomilomi that was previously held sacred and secret for Hawaiian families only. This icon of healing, Aunty Margaret, broke the rules of keeping the kahuna "secrets" secret. Much to the distain of some of her traditional Hawaiian relatives, Aunty decided it "was time" to generously share this sacred Hawaiian knowledge with all who wanted to learn. Aunty Margaret Machado's healing love transformed lives, training hands and souls into healing tools, and allowed individuals to be a vehicle of this sacred, prayerful healing work for yet thousands more people finding spiritual connection as they healed their bodies and souls.
Aunty was given many awards of recognition for her work. In her 90th year, she was given the special recognition in the "Healing Hall of Fame". I was given the honor of awarding Aunty Margaret the first annual Healing Award for the Big Island Health and Wellness Alliance.
It is with tremendous gratitude that I share this information about Kalehuamakanoelulu'uonapali Margaret Machado. She had endless energy to train thousands of students over a 30 year span, with bountiful snowballing effects blessing the world with Hawaiian healing energy, filled with the rich Spirit of Aloha.
It is said that many people select Christmastime to leave their bodies because it is "when the angels are closest to the earth." I like to think that when Aunty Margaret made her passage into the love and light that we all are, she was imagining herself in a circle of ohana holding hands, singing"Life Is But a Circle".
The Sacred Tradition
of Hawaiian Lomilomi
by Marcel Hernandez, N.D. in Feb, 2001 Hawaii Island
Lomilomi -- the word itself is veiled in mystery and magic. If you close your eyes and try to imagine what a Hawaiian lomilomi session might be like, it is not difficult to visualize a massage table set up under an open-sided, banana leaf roof gazebo amid black lava rocks with the sound of the ocean nearby and a beautiful lei-adorned "aunty" performing her magic. Actually, this fantasy may not be far from reality, especially when receiving a treatment from one of the lomilomi elders.
A few months ago I began a series of articles on massage therapy promising that I would End the series with an article on a type of Hawaiian massage called lomilomi, a word which means breaking up into small pieces." At the time, I thought lomilomi was merely another form of bodywork, like Swedish massage, Tragerwork or shiatsu. I was wrong. When I began to do research for this article, I discovered that bodywork techniques are just a small part of lomilomi.
Perhaps the main difference between lomilomi and other types of massages that lomilomi is intentionally spiritual in its orientation and approach to healing. Each lomilomi session begins with a pule, or prayer. This may be silent or aloud, in English or Hawaiian, and may be in the form of a chant. The purpose of the pule is to invoke the presence of the God and acknowledge right at the beginning that true healing occurs primarily on the spiritual level. Not traditional lomilomi practitioners believe they are doing it on their own.
Another difference is in lomilomi origins and traditions. Most forms of massage therapy cannot trace their origins or have been developed or adapted in modern times. Lomilomi has been a part of Hawaiian culture since the start of their oral history. Practitioners in pre-Captain Cook Hawai'i often received their knowledge and inspiration in the form of visions or dreams. Practical training was done solely through observation. No questions were asked and the teacher and student never worked on each other. Lomilomi elders believe that their ancestors are present during a session, helping guide them in their healing work.
Lomilomi is holistic in its orientation. Other forms of bodywork have been limited and specific focuses like pain relief or stress reduction and offer only physical approaches. In addition to massage techniques, lomilomi uses heat, steam, diet, cleansing, topical herbal therapy, exercise, health education and counseling in restoring health and optimal functioning on all levels of being.
Lomilomi soft-tissue techniques are not unique or spectacular. Like other forms of massage, lomilomi may be performed with either light or deep tissue work, with rubbing, stroking, kneading, pounding, pressing, vibrating, pulling and compression. There is no specific routine, although skilled teachers will use specific routines to guide their students in developing a framework for the therapeutic approach.
More than anything else, the purpose of lomilomi is truly minister to the body and spirit. A lomilomi master has no doubts whatsoever about the presence of spirit during the session. She/he is able to channel their connection with 'aina, the spirit of the Earth, and to bring that healing energy into the therapeutic session. This is done in a totally loving and peaceful manner. The practitioner doesn't need to go into a trance to establish the connection. In fact, a typical lomilomi session may be sprinkled with jokes, stories, songs and gentle laughter.
Finding a traditional lomilomi practitioner can be a challenge. Many new practitioners have minimal training, focus primarily on the physical aspects of lomilomi and have little connection to the richness of the tradition. During the period of repression of Hawaiian culture, lomilomi was forbidden, so practitioners went underground to preserve the knowledge and techniques. Most traditional lomilomi practitioners are not licensed under Hawaiis massage therapy law and do not want to be commercialized. Furthermore, because they are not licensed, some traditional practitioners lack knowledge of physiology, anatomy and contraindications for massage therapy. There are only a few elders or masters, most of whom are practicing quietly out of their homes and may be found only by word-of-mouth.
Dr. Hernandez is happy to answer your health-related questions and to address issues which may be relevant to Big Island residents and visitors in this column. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 775-1505