Gods and Myths of Hawai`i
Hawai`i Resource Library

     
 

The Gods of Old Hawai'i were many, told in Mele (song) Oli (chant) and Hula (dance). Each Island had its own variation. Here are some of them. see: King David Kalakaua. 1888: The Legends and Myths of Hawai'i, Charles E. Tuttle Co., Library of Congress 72-77519

 

Ku: "Rising upright" God of war and power and the Sunrise. The sons of Chiefs were dedicated to Ku to assure that they grow up to be great worriors. Ku is the master God, his wife Hina the earth mother. At a Heiau dedicated to Ku the offering of human sacrifice, usually a chief captured in war, his mana (spirit and power) would be preserved by his ceremonious death and transferred to those who partook in his flesh. The priests and only those of rank (ali'i) would attend the prayer as the body was place upon an alter strapped to a log, a fish hook in the mouth of the victim to symbolize the drawing up of the land.

 

 

Kane: God of the woodsman, creative parent of man and all other living creatures. Identified with sunlight, fresh water, and other life-giving things. The forests were sacred to Kane. Life was sacred to Kane...no human sacrifice. The Kumulipo ONE Chant of Creation) describes: Kane, assisted by Ku and Lono, opposed by Kanaloa, makes the heaven, earth, sun, moon and stars . All is dark and chaotic (po). On O'ahu between Kualoa and Kaneohe on a red hill at Mokapu , comes the light (ao) and man where the red is mixed with bluish and black soil. He is call Huli-honua "made out of earth". Kane's affair with Hina produced the first man. The first man noticed that his shadow always clinged to him. He falls asleep and when he awakens, a beautiful woman lies by his side. He calls her Ke-aka-huli-lani "the shadow from heaven". Each Hawaiian family worshiped Kane under the name of their own Aumakua "spirit in the form of an animal or bird". The spirit of Kane is everwhere.

 

 

Lono: God of agriculture, farming rain, and peace. Associated with clouds, yet dwells in the water. At Heiau dedicated to Lono the Kahuna (priests) would pray for rain, abundant crops or relief from sickness or trouble. Offerings to him took the form of pigs, taro, sweet potatoes, and kapa. He was honored at the annual Makahiki celebrations during which time, war was Kapu (forbidden).

 

Hina: "leaning down" Sunset. Wife of Ku with the power of growth and reproduction. Through the woman must all pass into life. Goddess of tapa beating and women's work, had an affair with Kane that produced man (kanaka). Hina's affairs become the example for the polygamous nature of Hawaiians. Her offspring become the lesser Gods and spirits.

Kanaloa: The squid God, was looked upon with distrust. God of the sea and in some parts of Hawai'i a rival of Kane. Kanaloa was the leader of the first company of spirits placed on earth after earth was separated from heaven. These spirits, spit out by the Gods, were not allowed to drink awa (intoxicating liquor) and rebelled. Naturally they were defeated and cast down into the underworld, land of Po, region of departed spirits. As with Kane, Kanaloa make a man but this man was made of stone. In revenge, Kanaloa seduced the wife (Ke-aka-huli-lani) of the first man made by Kane. For this, man and woman are banished from Mokapu (eden). Kanaloa is responsible for man's troubles and sickness.

Pele, The Fire Goddess: Haumea waiting for her child to be born, was told by the elders of her village that a "spirit child" will be born to you on a night when the earth shakes, lighting splits the sky and thunder rolls down the valley. That night arrived and Haumea went into a cave and came forth with a child. They named her Pelehonuamea.

Pele was different from her brothers and sisters. She would not play with them in the water. Her uncle, Lonomakua was the "keeper of the flame". he knew all of the secrets of fire, but till now had no one to pass this knowledge to. When Pele was a few days old, he saw the reflection of fire in her eyes.

The island Pele and her village were living on was being consumed by frequent volcanic eruptions. The villagers and Pele's jealous sister Namaka blamed Pele and Lonomakua for this. Banished from the island, Pele and some of her sisters and brothers, who loved her, sailed away. The amakua (guardian) shark god Kamohoali'i safe guarded Pele's journey. Lonomakua gave Pele a magic stick "Pa'oa" to help her find fire at her new home. Her mother gave Pele a magic egg.

For many months Pele followed a star from the northeast, which shown brighter than the rest, and migrated toward it. One morning, Pele awoke to the smell of something familiar in the air. In the distance could be seen a high mountain with a smoky haze hiding its peak. Pele knew she had found her new home. She named the island Hawai'i.

 

Pele, carrying her magic stick Pa'oa, went up to the mountain where a part of the earth collapsed into the ground. She and placed the stick into the ground. Pele called this place Kilauea. Inside the Kilauea Crater was a large pit. She named it Halema'uma'u, maumau being the fern jungle surround the volcano. Halema'uma'u would be her new home.

There was a fire God living on Kilauea named 'Ailaau (forest-eater). He and Pele both wanted Kilauea for their home. They started throwing fire balls at each other causing considerable damage. 'Ailaau fled and still hides in the caverns under the earth. Pele alone would rule the Island of Hawai'i. The people of the island loved and respected the Goddess Pele. The egg her mother gave Pele hatched into a beautiful girl. Pele named her new sister, Hi'iaka'i-ka-poli-o-Pele (Hi'iaka of the bosom of Pele). Kamohoali'i, the shark god taught Hi'iaka the art of surfing.

Pele fell in love with a man she saw in a dream. His name was Lohi'au, a chief of the island of Kaua'i. Pele sent her sister Hi'iaka to fetch Lohi'au on Kaua'i to bring him back to Hawai'i to live with Pele. Hi'iaka would have forty days to bring Lohi'au back or Pele would punish the girl by hurting Hi'iaka's girl friend Hopoe. Upon reaching Kaua'i, Hi'iaka found Lohi'au dead. She quickly rubbed his body with herbs and chanted to the Gods for help; bringing the young chief of Kaua'i back to life. Grateful for Hi'iaka's help, Lohi'au agreed to return with her to the Big Island.

The forty days had passed. Pele suspected that Hi'iaka and Lohi'au had fallen in love and were not coming back. In her fury, Pele caused an eruption which turned Hopoe into stone. On here return to Hawai'i with Lohi'au, Hi'iaka found Hopoe, a statue in stone. Hi'iaka, filled with sadness and anger decided to take revenge. Leading Lohi'au to the edge of the Halema'uma'u crater where Pele could see them, Hi'iaka put her arms around Lohi'au and embraced him. Furious, Pele covered Lohi'au with lava and flames.

The two sisters, anger subsided, were remorseful. One lost a friend the other a lover. Pele decided to bring Lohi'au back to life to let him choose which sister he would love. Pele was sure Lohi'au would choose her. Lohi'au chose Hi'iaka. Pele, with aloha, gave the two lovers her blessing and Hi'iaka and Lohi'au sailed back to Kaua'i.

Pele still lives on Hawai'i where she rules as the fire Goddess of the volcanoes. The smell of sulphur reminds the natives that she is still there in her home, Halema'uma'u. Her fiery lava building a new island to the south, still submerged, named Loahi.

The people of Hawai'i still melo o Pele (sing and chant for Pele) and Kilauea.

"E ola mau, e Pele e!

'Eli'eli kau mai!"

Long life to you, Pele

Kamapua`a, The Hog Child: was born on Kaua'i of the union of the Goddess Hina and a handsome Kaua'i chief named Kahiki-ula. The Kumulipo, Chant of Creation describes the birth of the half God, half Hog child:

"His snout was of great size and with it he dug the earth,

He dug until he raised a great mound,

He raised a hill for his Gods,

A hill, a precipice in front,

For the offspring of a pig that was born."

Kamapua'a has the ability to change into many forms. As a giant pig, he has supernatural strength and the ability to destroy farms and crops. Because he is a hog, he is pursued to be used as sacrifice or to be eaten.

Kamapua'a's affair with the Fire Goddess Pele produces a child that becomes the ancestor of the commoner class. Kamapua'a gave Kamehameha and his troops safe passage throught the forest at Nuuanu after which he defeated the Chiefs of O'ahu at the Pali.

Mau'i, The Trickster: Mau'i was the son of Hina and a man named Akalana. He was conceived after Hina, while looking for seaweed, found a man's loincloth on the beach and put it on. She fell asleep and on awakening Mau'i was born.

The exploits of Mau'i are many. Mau'i's first feat was getting fire from the mud hens while they were roasting bananas. From a mud hen he learned that fire is made by rubbing sticks together.

Mau'i next stopped the sun from moving so fast. Mau'i was sitting on the trunk of a large tree and lassoed the sun's rays as the sun as it came up. The sun pleaded for its life and finally agreed that the days shall be long in summer and short during the winter months.

While still a child, one day Mau'i went fishing with his brothers. A big fish took his magical hook and for two days, Mau'i battled with this fish. The fish transformed in to land. As the land was finally drawn to his canoe, the line broke and the fish vanished. The land that was brought to the surface is the Hawaiian Islands. The islands are separated by water because Mau'i did not pull the land all the way out of the water.

     Mau'i Lifts the Sky:

Long ago the sky rested on the earth. Plants and bushes flattened their leaves and pushed and pushed, raising the sky a little. Still the world was dim and dark for the sun could not be seen. Still men were creeping and crawling about in darkness.

"This is not good!" said Mau'i. He braced himself and pushed the sky up to the tree tops. "Now men can stand and walk about." Still the world was dim and dark. "I'll push it higher," Mau'i cried. He braced himself and tossed the sky up to the mountain tops. There, that was better! But still the world was dim and dark. "One more push is needed!" Maui said, and lifted with his mighty strength. He tossed the sky up where it is today.

Now the sun could come bringing light and warmth. Sometimes the clouds come low and rest upon the mountains. Rain pours down. But not for long, for the sky knows if it presses on the earth as in the old days, Mau'i will come again and toss it up so high, the sky may never come back!

     Why birds can be seen:

Long ago birds were invisible. Men could hear the whir of their wings and listen to their songs, but the birds themselves no one could see - no one, except Mau'i. One day a visitor came from another island and challenged Maui to a boasting contest. A crowd gathered and listened with delight as each man boasted of his island—its mountains, waterfalls, and forests.

"I must win!" thought Mau'i, and aloud he said, "I'll prove to you that we have something here that you have never dreamed of." Secretly he called the birds. They lighted all about on trees and bushes and filled the air with song. The boastful visitor was silent while the crowd listened in wonder. "Spirits!" they whispered. At last, using his mighty power, Mau'i caused them all to see the little feathered singers.

The boastful man exclaimed, "O Mau'i, you have won! In my island there is no such wonder."

Ever since that day birds may be seen as well as heard.

Mau'i's wife Kumulama was abducted by Pe'ape'a-maka-walu, the eight eyed bat. Mau'i learned to fashion a kite out of leaves and the ieie vine on which he flew through the air and rescued his wife from the bat. Mau'i cut of the bats head and ate its eyes in revenge.

Finally Mau'i went to Waipio valley on he Big Island of Hawai'i where the Gods Kane and Kanaloa are having a party roasting bananas. Mau'i tried to steal the bananas and had his brains bashed in. The red colors of the rainbow were formed by Mau'i's blood.

KAHILI, Symbol of Power

Halihali mai ‘oe i ka po‘e lahui Hawai‘i. Ka ala nui Ea like me ke ka‘awila. Imua a i hope. Ma lela no hana like kakou, a‘ole hakaka, a‘ole hukihuki, ALU LIKE.

People of Hawai'i lets get together. The road to Sovereignty is like the Spokes of a Wheel. Go forward or back. The way to work is together. Don't fight or argue, COME TOGETHER.   June 1, 1995

 

 
     
 

Source:  http://www.hawaiiresourcelibrary.com/godsof%20hawaii.pdf

 
     
     
 

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