Paleaku Gardens Peace Sanctuary hosts solstice celebration

  • Visitors meander through Paleaku Gardens Peace Sanctuary Saturday at their open house and summer solstice celebration. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

  • Visitors stop at one of many spiritual monuments at Paleaku Gardens Peace Sanctuary Saturday at their open house and summer solstice celebration. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

  • Members of Na Wai Iwi Ola chant and play the pahu at the fire circle Saturday at Paleaku Gardens Peace Sanctuary for the summer solstice celebration. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

  • Margaret Masunaga lights incense at the Hopi fire circle for the summer solstice celebration Saturday at Paleaku Gardens Peace Sanctuary. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

  • Kumu Keala Ching chants at the fire circle for Summer Solstice Celebration Saturday at Paleaku Gardens Peace Sanctuary. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

  • A fire is lit in the center of the Hopi fire circle for a Summer Solstice celebration Saturday at Paleaku Gardens Peace Sanctuary. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

  • Visitors walk through the labyrinth at Paleaku Gardens Peace Sanctuary Saturday at their open house and summer solstice celebration. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

  • Shelly Mitchell performs a smudging on Barbara Hoist Saturday at Paleaku Gardens Peace Sanctuary Summer Solstice celebration and open house. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

Summer solstice, the longest day of sunlight in the northern hemisphere, has been celebrated by most cultures throughout history.

On Saturday, Paleaku Gardens Peace Sanctuary held an open house and solstice celebration centered around the Hopi fire circle to commemorate the day.

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Visitors to the botanical garden were greeted with smudging, a Native American ritual using herbal sage smoke that is thought to cleanse the receiver’s mind of negative energy and negative aura according to Shelly Mitchell. She used a feather fan to spread the smoke around the visitor, which she said connects the father above with Mother Earth below.

Once cleansed, visitors entered the garden, a colorful oasis spread across seven acres of manicured landscapes overlooking Kealakekua Bay. This unique botanical wonder features meandering pathways with plenty of shaded sitting benches.

“It stirs inner peace and offers a safe place to settle the fear from these past several months,” said garden owner Barbara DeFranco. “This place is a sanctuary for people to come. I have been told there is nothing like it in the world.”

The garden is home to spiritual traditions from around the world, tied together by the botanical garden.

DeFranco said she wanted to do something to heal the community in these trying times.

“When we heard we were allowed to gather again I decided on June 20, then discovered it was summer solstice,” she said.

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She chose “Welcoming the Light” for the theme of this year’s open house, inviting Kumu Keala Ching, a Hawaiian composer, spiritual and cultural teacher to share the oli “Illuminate the Self, Welcome the light.” Visitors were invited to gather at the Hopi fire circle for an outside ceremony. With the fire lit, visitors were invited to light incense and share in the ceremony.

For more information visit paleaku.com or call (808) 328-8084. They are open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday thru Saturday.

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