In June of 2018 Jo, John and Dylan made a journey with the goal of connecting our Henge, Koreon Aralia, to the inner temple in the megalithic city of Nan Madol, in Pohnpei, Micronesia.
On Thursday, July 12, 2018 Jo Carson described the surprising results of this pilgrimage on The Hermetic Hour, with host Poke Runyon. You can listen to the show.
These photos illuminate her tale of magic and adventure.
Few people have heard of Pohnpei, a Micronesian island less than 40 miles across, with about 34,000 residents. Poke Runyon of the Order of the Temple of Astarte described going there back in the early 90s, and his tales about exploring the lost city of Nan Madol were the inspiration for our trip.
This is Kolonia, the main city of Pohnpei, from Sokehs Ridge at twilight. There are sacred spots all over the island where people worshiped the local deities and did ceremonies to secure the bounty of the land and waters. These rites were often done on stone altars called pei. Pohnpei literally means "upon a stone altar." The island has a long history of foreign domination, from the Spanish in the 1600s to the time in 1986 when they achieved their independence from the US. In pre-colonial times, they were matrilineal and had a gift economy, wherein status was achieved by giving one's bounty to others.
Liduduhniap Falls; Jo in the foreground, touching the stones. It is recorded that in these areas, ancestral spirits often took up residence in stones, trees, fishes or birds.
The astonishingly beautiful Kepiroh Falls. They say that freshwater eels live here, although we didn't see any. Such eels are considered sacred on Pohnpei.
Jo, after a refreshing swim in the Falls.
A megalithic wall: log-cabin style architecture of multi-ton basalt rocks was used to create the city of Nan Madol. There are about 100 of these stone buildings. They rest on islands built of compacted coral, which were built starting 700 CE, although there are indications of human occupation there as early as 200 BCE. The Nan Madol city complex as a place to control Pohnpei was built between 1180 and 1200 CE. A line of foreign kings called the Saudeleurs ruled from there, becoming increasingly oppressive over time. The city was abandoned after 1600, when Pohnpeians staged a revolt against a king who tortured and killed those he disliked, and demanded that his morning bath tub be filled with dew. This was in complete opposition to the gentle, nature and ancestor-oriented spiritual pathways of the Pohnpeians.
The Kings Temple and Burial Chamber, Nan Madol, Pohnpei. We met a young Pohnpeian man there who turned out to be in the lineage of a former king (not the Saudeleurs), and who accepted our payment for going there. He told us that Nan Madol was built in honor of an even more ancient sunken city, now about 200 feet below sea level, called Kanahmwiso. Some time ago Poke Runyon had told us the same story. At that depth it would have to have been built during the last ice age, over 12,000 years ago. Mysterious indeed, since this does not conform to ideas we have from archaeology about when and where civilizations developed.
The Saudeleur king's burial vault on Nan Douwas Islet in Nan Madol. The place felt dark and sad. We decided against the original plan of connecting our Henge with it.
There is a lovely Ikiok Tree near the Northeast corner of the Kings Temple and Burial Chamber on Nan Douwas. Pohnpei has a long tradition of tree and stone worship; the gods were understood to rest in the stones, especially ones of basalt. Spirits also lived in trees; in cases where a tree had to be felled, specialists would paint the tree with a specific concoction and pray to encourage the spirit to leave first. We read that this tree was placed there by tree and stone worshipers as a protest to the demagoguery of the king and a statement of their true allegiance.
Ikiok Tree - Lady Tree Altar. You may be able to see in the photo our small stone with Phytala placed on her "knee." The tree felt inviting and an ideal place to leave our stone. We did a Kore Blessing prayer and checked the alignment with our compass, to set up an energetic ray between it and our home henge.
A deep jungle trail, on our way to the last falls. This was just before the section where landslides had washed out a section of the trail, leaving only an inch wide foothold above the steep ravine.
There are huge, bat-filled cave overhangs at Pahntakai Falls- the small, sloping trail is on the right.
This two foot stack of leaves and ferns is for the god Luhk, or luck - we added ours.
Kibur - our guide, and guardian of the site. When we left, Kibur explained to the owners that we were there on pilgrimage, so we were not charged the usual admission fees.
Pahntakai Falls - over a hundred feet high, a veil of mist and water. Getting to the base of the falls was treacherous, and required climbing down a steep hillside of soaking wet, moss-covered and very slippery rocks.
Lower part of Pahntakai Falls - We called it Lady Falls, because we were told, "If She likes you, she will take you in, and you'll get wet. If She doesn't like you, She will push you away." We placed a second serpentine stone from our home Henge, Koreon Aralia, at the base of this falls, along with one from our sister henge in Sonoma, the Heart Henge. It was time for another Kore Blessing prayer/song. If there was a place that felt like the heart of Pohnpei and the reason for our journey, this was certainly it.
Feeling blessed at Pahntakai Falls - Jo
Is this the Sleeping Lady?
A roadside view, returning to Kolonia.
All photos by and copyright Jo Carson, 2018