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Ancient Hawaiian Gods

A few of the most famous and colourful mythical characters are listed below. Each represents an aspect of the Hawaiian culture and life.

 

 

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Hawaiian Religion

Prior to the arrival of the missionaries in 1820, Hawaiians believed in many gods. A Hawaiian chant, the Kumulipo which consists of 2102 lines, links the royal families to the gods. 

The four main gods were Kane, Ku, Lono and Kanaloa. Demi-gods included Pele and many others.  Kane was the god of sunlight, fresh water, and natural life. Ku was the god of war and the male generating power. Lono was the god of peace, fertility, winds, rain and sports. Kanaloa was god of the ocean; Pele, the goddess of fire. The complexities of the relationships between all Hawaiian gods are explained in many legends. 

Each Hawaiian family had its own aumakua (personal god) which protected them. For some it was the shark, others the pig, and so on. It was thought that spirits could communicate to the living through dreams and often appeared in the form of the family's aumakua.

The Hawaiians built many heiau (temples) and placed offerings on specially constructed altar-like towers.  Most offerings were edible and wrapped in ti leaves to keep the evil spirits away. Human sacrifice did occur but was not common. It was reserved for the war god Ku.

The Hawaiian religion was greatly altered by the missionaries, yet strong beliefs did not die. In modern times a Hawaiian priest may bless a ground-breaking ceremony with a combination of Hawaiian chants and Christian prayers. The spirit of old Hawaii lives on.

Hawaiian Gods

Kamapua'a - The Hog God

  • a mischievous spirit of rain and plant life. Pele's lover, but in all ways her opposite. Theirs was a stormy relationship.

Maui - The time shifter

  • A demigod is the brother of Madam Pele. Maui is said to have lassoed the sun in order to slow it down and make the days longer on the island of Maui

Menehune - Good fairies

  • Impish mythical figures are the Hawaiian cousins of Ireland's leprechauns. They are said to do good deeds during the night, such as digging fishponds.

Poliahu - Goddess of snowy Mauna Kea and a rival to Pele.

Kapo and Laka - Pele's sisters

  • two personalities of the same spirit - one a spirit of fertility and sorcery, the other a spirit of the dance.

Hi'iaka - a spirit of fertility and sorcery, as well as a spirit of dance.

Kamohoali'i -  Keeper of the water of life

  • a respected elder brother and, as a great shark, he led Pele to Hawaii.

Lonomakua - keeper of the sacred fire sticks

  • made volcanic fires at Pele's command.

Ka-poho-i-kahi-ola - Spirit of explosions

Ke-ua-ake-po - Spirit of the rain of fire.

Kane-hekili - Sprit of thunder.

Ke-o-ahi-kama-kaua - Spirit of lava fountains