Where kava got it's roots: An exploration into the mythology and discovery of kava

Where kava got it's roots: An exploration into the mythology and discovery of kava

April 09, 2021

In Fiji, Vanuatu, and Tonga, mythology played a huge role in kava. There were many kava myths told and today, re told.

Buckle your seatbelts, we are going to jump in head first with the story of the snake...God.

Fiji: Degei and the his Gift of Kava

In Fiji, kava was known to contain knowledge for humans, "Legend has it that the snake god, Degei, gave kava to the first people as a way to remain connected to nature's wisdom." (https://kava.com/fiji-mythology/)

The popular story of the mythological God, Degei, is one the most important in Fiji. It was said that his only friend was a female hawk named Turuwaka (super jealous) which also happened to be the only other living creature besides himself. One day, Turuwaka disappeared and when Degei went searching for her, he stumbled onto her abandoned nest with two eggs in it (very ominous).

Degei took it upon himself to care for those eggs as his own since Turuwaka was nowhere to be found. When they hatched, two tiny humans came out and those were said to be the first humans on earth. According to the legend, Degei gifted the first people two crops: vuga, a type of hardwood tree, and you guessed it, kava kava.

But what happened to these two people?

Degei raised those two humans but kept them separated until the time came for him to let them go off on their own (spread their wings, like Turuwaka if you will). With their newfound freedom, these two humans went off on their own without Degei, but he was not upset because he knew that one day they would spread his name to be worshiped by the people of Fiji. And that my fellow kava pioneers, is how kava was said to be introduced throughout Fiji.

Vanuatu: The Story of the Mourning Brother

The legend about the origin of kava in Vanuatu starts with two orphaned siblings: a boy and a girl. Living on a Northern Island in Vanuatu, they found a way to create a happy, loving life for themselves despite losing their parents.

One day, a man appeared at their house out of the forest.(I've seen enough horror movies to know this is never good). Out of the kindness of their hearts, the siblings offered food and shelter for him. As they ate and hung out, the stranger become more and more fascinated and smitten with the girl. But it wasn't until the next morning that he made his move. (oh la la)

Intrigued by the girl, the stranger asked for her to come home with him and get married. She refused and this upset him so he threatened to force her to join him if she didn't go willingly(not so oh la la). He progressively became more aggressive. Protective of his sister, the brother leaped to attack this stranger but the unexpected happened. In hopes to shoot the brother, the stranger accidently shot the sister instead.

Shocked and in cowardice, the stranger fled while the brother was left to mourn his sister. He buried her nearby and spent nearly everyday grieving over her grave.

A plant began to grow from her grave without any leaves or greenery with it. In memory of her, the brother allowed it to sprout.

A year went by and the brother still wasn't able to get past losing his sister. One day, as he was crying over where she had been buried, he noticed a mouse gnaw at the plant. Suddenly, the mouse died from it. Struck with loneliness, the brother decided to also try the plant so that he could finally see his family again and not have to feel this anguish and despair any longer.

However, he didn't see his family again because the plant didn't kill him. Instead, he felt peaceful: no sadness, no anger, no hopelessness. From that day on, he ate the plant whenever the death of his sister felt too overwhelming, until it didn't affect him as terribly as it once did - the plant helped him accept his sister's death.

So the story goes that this young man went on to share the news of the magical plant that healed him with the rest of Vanuatu. And yes, this magical plant was indeed kava.

The Legend of Kava that Spread Through Tonga

A couple by the names of Fevanga and Fefafa lived on an isolated island in Tonga. Though to the ordinary eye, the means they came by seemed scarce, they managed to find happiness. Eventually, they had a daughter named Kava kilia mai Faa’imata

One day, the king and his men were in search of a place to rest and eat when on this island. They struggled to find anything to fulfill this hunger as the sea was rough, therefore fish were scarce. In search of food, his men stumbled onto Fevanga and Fefafa's home. Delighted to have the king at his home, Fevanga promised to provide a feast and shelter for them. He scoured all around the island but came up empty handed.

Disappointed in his inability to provide this feast he had promised, Fevanga decided he must sacrifice the thing he holds dearest as a tribute to the king: his daughter. The king was touched by this and instructed the couple to leave the daughter where she was buried. He then promised that her name would be remembered until the end of time.

When the couple returned to visit their daughter's grave, they noticed two sprouts growing. Like the Vanuatu legend, they saw a mouse begin to chew on this plant. But unlike the Vanuatu legend, the mouse actually became sporadic.

When it ate from the first sprout, it began getting tipsy, stumbling about. Then it ate the second and began running around excitedly.

The first sprout was said to be kava and the second, sugar cane. This caused two opposing effects.

 

All these stories and legends surrounding kava just goes to show how significant it is in these cultures. I'm a strong believer in knowing the history of something if you're going to use it so kudos to you if you made it this far! This is just the beginning of learning the great history of kava.

You ask, we answer: what would you like to learn next kava pioneer?

Spread the Love of Kava! <3



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