Earthquakes and Coincidences (And Some Practical Advice)

A lava flow moves on Makamae Street in Leilani Estates at 09:32 am HST on May 6. Photo by U.S. Geological Survey

Hawaii Island, where we live, was rocked by almost constant earthquakes on May 3, just a week ago. We live in Kona, quite a distance away from the epicenters, but we still felt them! In feng shui, we’re taught to pay attention to coincidences, and earthquakes offer that opportunity—big time. Quakes happen for reasons, and these latest quakes are caused by the intrusion of lava along a faultline in the Puna district. Strong as they were (the strongest being 6.9) these quakes felt like our usual earthquakes. The cause and effects are quite obvious to everyone.

Damage to the Kalahikiola Congregational Church in Kapa‘au, Hawai‘i, caused by the 2006 Kīholo Bay magnitude 6.7 earthquake and aftershocks. Photo: U.S. Geological Survey

Sometimes earthquakes are caused by our messing around with the planet. On October 15, 2006 our island was hit by a 6.7 quake that caused a lot more damage than the recent quakes. That quake felt very different from our usual earthquakes, and the damage was much more severe. It came directly after North Korea announced its first underground nuclear test. My mother had a lifelong interest in geology and she told me at that time the entire Pacific region had unusual earthquakes (just before and after our earthquake). I believe in putting two and two together…

Damage at I-5 and I-210 freeway interchange (1971). Photo by E.V. Leyendecker. U.S. Geological Survey

When I told that to a dear friend, he told me that when Los Angeles had their big earthquake in 1971, he was living there. He said that the day before the quake all the newspapers had big articles about an upcoming underground nuclear test in Nevada. The day of the quake and thereafter, there was no mention of the nuclear test—it had been displaced by disaster articles. The media never made the connection between the two events, but (some) people who lived there realized the connection.

When China filled their Three Gorges dam, they had an incredibly devastating earthquake in that same region, and did the media make the connection between the weight of the displaced water and the quake? I don’t think so! We mess around with Mother Nature at our own peril.

I was in Hilo last week teaching a class, and a lot more people had registered for the class than actually showed up. The 6.9 quake shook things up a lot more there than it did here in Kona, and people were dealing with the aftereffects. One of the women attending the class came up to me afterwards and she was obviously still quite traumatized. She had been alone in her home and bookcases had fallen over and lots of irreplaceable heirlooms were smashed. I told her that every bookcase in our house was fastened to the wall with L-brackets (I make that suggestion on page 56 of Feng Shui for Hawaii), and all the valuable breakables were stuck down with the wax that museums use. During the 2006 quake, I had watched a lovely Roseville topple right before me, and sadly it wasn’t the only one. During the latest quake, I went to grab a delicate object and happily realized that I’d already stuck it down!

Here’s my practical advice, from someone who has lived through many a quake, and thanks to museum wax and putty, so have my belongings. To anchor your precious items, use the wax in places that don’t get direct sunlight. In direct sun, use the putty. The wax will melt in direct sun and the object can slide and break, even if there’s no earthquake. I know that from sad experience!

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