Garden of Gods, Lana'i Gods's Garden, Lanai, Hawaii

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Hawaiian Mythology

Hawaiian & Polynesian Myths

Hawaiian mythology is full of fantastic stories about gods and goddesses. Some live in deep valleys, some high in the sky. Many of them have been humans long time before they became gods. From this point - Hawaiian gods are different to the concept of God, existing in modern western cultures. The skills which gods were represent, their dedication to the Ohana in time of their human existence, was creating the highest value for society and after the death of the body resulted in becoming a god of a certain type. In this sense, gods in old Hawaii were not just abstract beings to worship, they were extremely grounded in human reality and through real life actions were extended to "god-like" level.

Pele, Pahalu, Kamapua'a,Io, Kane, Wahine, Lono, Laka, Ku, Hina, Kapo, Kanaloa, Wakea, Papa.

One of the most remembered goddesses on Hawaii today is Pele, the Goddess of Volcano. The stories about Pele, who in the shape of an old woman stands in the night on the side of a road and stops your car to ask for a lift - are still alive. Old Hawaiian people believe, that Pele can take many shapes and if you meet her, it is not a good idea, to ignore her. Many people in Hawaii refer to their experiences of meeting Pele, in a very strange life situation. For the western mind, such stories are just superstitions and imagination. But we need to remember that we are living in totally different cultural reference scale. To understand the experiences of the Hawaiian people, we would need to be born in their culture and live there.

Lately we visited the Kalapana village, where the fire of Pele was destroying a house of our friends. They were making a feast instead of crying and being angry. Some of our friends asked them - "How it is that you are able to enjoy the situation, that your home is destroyed by lava flow? They answered: "We don't enjoy that our house is destroyed. We are giving our home to Pele as a gift. We understand that if she choose to take it, we can not discuss such a decision." This is an example of reactions, which may be not easy to understand in western culture frames of reference.

For some Hawaiian people - especially on Big Island - Pele is not the one who destroys, she as well builds new land... a home for future generations.. With her unpredictability, with her power - Hawaiian people know that it is impossible to discuss with her. You accept it, or you suffer. Living close to Pele's home, teaches people enormous lesson about humility and power. And Love.

Hi'iaka i ka Poli o Pele

is the youngest sister of the goddess Pele. She was the most beloved by Pele. She is present in many chants to Pele. Hi'iaka i ka Poli o Pele represents ability to heal, feel compassion and act with humility and devotion. She is the heroin of many stories about healing. With her gentleness and loving approach, she represents human ability to stay helpful even at the costs of own's one happiness.

Laka is still present in Hawaiian mythology as the Goddess of Hula dance. She helps to follow hundreds of generations of traditions, knowledge and wisdom kept in Hula stories, gestures and chants. For Hula dancers today she still offers spiritual help and protection.

Kane - the male god of creation stands on the pantheon as the one who represents the male aspect of creation. This god lived high in heaven, who looks from above and sends the Water of Life to the Earth. In everyday life, he would be called by kahunas for healing deep problems.

Lono was the god, very well-known in last part of Hawaiian history though the events linked with arrival of captain James Cook. He arrived in Kealakekua bay in time of the god Lono, when most people from the island were praying to Lono for abundance and fertility of their land. Legend said that Lono left the island and will come back on the island with white trees... And the ship of captain Cook looked exactly like small island with white trees - from the distance. For people who only were using canoes to travel over the ocean, the arrival of Cook was like a fulfillment of this prophecy. Therefore, Cook was invited to the old heiau and rituals were performed for bringing him to the Hawaiin god's pantheon… A mistake, which many Hawaiians believe, still affects Hawaiian culture and reality.

Ku god was linked with very old traditions of life in close relationship with nature. The last remembered aspect of Ku god - Kukailimoku - was a god of war. He was invoked for unifying all Hawaiian islands by king Kamehameha I and his legacy remains in current tourist books. Although not many tourists realize, the ancient god Ku was the god of life.

What really is interesting in Hawaiian mythology, is the awareness of the interactions between humans and nature. Kahunas of many types have treatedthis cooperation with great respect. Sadly, they weren't able to pass on thesee values to new commoners; white people with different values, beliefs and different cultural reference frames.


Article "Hawaiian Mythology", copyrights CCRC.TM © 1993 - 2015
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