All societies are constantly evolving. Indeed a culture survives when it has enough confidence in its past and enough say in its future to maintain its spirit and essence through all the changes it will inevitably undergo. ― Wade Davis, The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World
Hawaii has tropical landscapes backed by dripping sunsets perfumed by plumeria breezes. It is the vacation screensaver and it delivers in every way and yet what I feel here is something much more powerful. I often look to history to discover the root of patterns I feel when I arrive in a new place. This is how I discovered the existence of The Wayfinders.
Polynesian Wayfinders were non-instrument navigators that sailed 20 million square miles of Oceanic seas for thousands of years before Europeans even began their exploratory adventures in 1500 AD.
These remarkable people set out in double-hulled canoes with an advanced system of observation based navigation that required no instruments. This systematic approach to observing patterns in nature as a framework for accurate navigation is called wayfinding.
Wayfinders studied bird migration patterns, wave sequences and shapes, star patterning and the reflective quality of clouds to set their course. Wayfinders had to show both a reverence and a command of nature in a holistic approach that linked the celestial universe, the sea, and of course the sought after land they left in search of discovering.
Wayfinding requires a discipline of environmental observation and connectedness that is difficult to achieve in today’s high-tech GPS driven world but I can feel it here. There is a visceral sense of awe and presence with nature that comes from a deep history of knowing that one has arrived. Perhaps wayfinding is both an ancient and highly advanced way to head in a new direction.
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