Kava, kava-kava (Piper methysticum). This is a name of a bitter, pungent pepper plant native to the Pacific Islands, and also the name of a non-alcoholic narcotic beverage made from the roots of the plant.
     Kava has been used for over 2,000 years in Polynesia, and there are elaborate rituals surrounding its use. Kava has soothing sedative properties, and has strong cultural traditions associated with its use. It has been used to settle social problems and in healing ceremonies. Also known as ava, awa, and yagone.

Chant used when àwa was offered to the gods
(Ka Leo o Hawaii, 1894):

Here is Àwa from me, Awini,
A fisherman am I
Of the inaccessible cliffs
Of greater Laupahoehoe and lesser Laupahoehoe,
A plant set out by Kane and Kanaloa,
My gods of the heavens above and the heavens below,
The Àwa popolo of Kane, that existed above,
Grew above, leafed above, ripened above.
It was seized by Makali'i and hung on high.
The rat ascended and chewed the rope that held it.
Down it fell, multiplied and spread over the earth.
The birds carries some up into the trees,
The Àwa hiwa and the makea (varieties) came down,
A pair were they.
The dark papa and the light papa,
A pair were they.
The mo'i and the mokihana,
A pair were they.
The nene and the ka-wai-maka-a-ka-manu,
A pair were they.
The Àwa of Kane is mixed with water,
The Àwa is drunk, fish is eaten for an aftertaste.
This is your offspring, Hanoalele,
Amama, it is freed, it has flown.


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