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New Millennium Rising: On Kauai
by Lisa Baker

Imagine seeing the dawn of the new century from the grounds of an ancient Hawaiian temple dedicated to the rising of the sun. The Millennium Celebration on Kauai, sponsored by Inner Voyages, LLC, and New Age Publishing, offers that and much more.

Two years in the planning, the celebration is designed to give approximately 400 participants a genuine experience of Hawaiian culture and spirituality. "We wanted to make this a very authentic Hawaiian experience, not a tourist event," says Inner Voyages founder Peter Einstein. The celebration, which runs from December 28, 1999 through January 2, 2000 at the Sun Spree Resort, will consist of small group ceremonies led by kahuna (shaman/priests -- literally "keepers of the secret"), and kupuna (respected elders, who are often women). There will be performances of traditional music, excursions to ancient temples and natural sites (like the hidden waterfalls), contemplative practices such as yoga and meditation, a recreation of the original Hawaiian royal court, and a beach front ritual of cleansing and renewal conducted by a renowned kahuna. The sponsors' aim is to welcome the transition from one millennium in to the next. Says Einstein, "It's not just a party where people countdown and then they toast. It's a rite of passage."

The island of Kauai is an inspired choice for the celebration. Still largely undeveloped, it is "pristine, pure and unspoiled," says Alan Cohen, author of The Dragon Doesn't Live Here Anymore, and one of the featured "western" speakers at the event (along with Shakti Gawain, author of several books, most recently, Creating True Prosperity, and anthropologist and Hank Wesselman, Ph.D., author of Spiritwalker). All three speakers have lived on the islands for years.

Oldest among the Hawaiian Islands, and the only one with a navigable river, Kauai is known as the "garden island," and is widely believed to have strong spiritual energy as well.

"It happens to be a spectacularly beautiful natural environment, and an extremely powerful healing place," says Gawain, who lives on Kauai. "When people spend time on Kauai they tend to go through a lot of powerful healing and growth." Of all the islands it seems to best reflect the spiritual essence of Hawaii.

"There's a deep reverence for nature and the presence of God through all aspects of nature," says Cohen, adding that the uniqueness of the Millennium Celebration is its connection to this aspect of Hawaiian tradition. "Rather than being in a hotel, people will balance their prayers and workshop activities with forays into nature."

In addition to the exquisite natural surroundings, the group dynamic among participants creates a deeper layer of experience for all involved. Cohen says he sees it often at his workshops that just the "right" group seems to show up. He says, "People are following an inner call to the place they feel they belong this millennium." Gawain feels this new year will be a time for both acknowledging the fears people have about the future and the problems facing the planet, and embracing a "very hopeful and inspired" attitude that "tremendous healing and change and transformation are possible." She adds that acknowledging those fears and hopes, "at that particular time, with a group of other people who are also there for the same reason, is going to be particularly powerful."

For more information on the Millennium Celebration on Kauai call, toll free, (888) 552-7375.Lisa Baker is a freelance writer in Wayland, Massachusetts.