Thursday, February 20, 2014

Hawaiian Mythology - The 4 Big 'Uns


In Hawaiian mythology, Kāne is considered the highest of the four major Hawaiian deities, along with Kanaloa, and Lono. He represented the god of procreation and was worshipped as ancestor of chiefs and commoners. Kāne is the creator and gives life associated with dawn, sun and sky. No human sacrifice or laborious ritual was needed in the worship of Kāne.
The 1907 book, “Legends of Hawaii,“ has the following account of creation involving Kane. The author says that there are several versions of this story, probably due to waves of immigration from different areas of Polynesia at different times, but generally they agree on the major points.
It says that in the beginning, there was nothing but Po; the endless black chaos. Then Kane, sensing that he was separate from the Po, pulled himself free of Po by an act of sheer will.
Sensing Kane's presence, Lono and then Ku also pulled themselves free of Po. Then Kane created the light to push back Po. Lono brought sound to the universe and Ku brought substance. Between them they created all the lesser Gods. Then together, the three Gods created the Menehune, the lesser spirits to be their messengers and servants. Next they created the world to be a foot stool for the Gods. Finally they gathered red clay from the four corners of the world; they mixed the clay with their spittle, and moulded it into the shape of a man.
Then Kane took special magical white clay and formed it into a head. Then the three Gods breathed life into the statue and created the first man. The first man was created in the image of Kane.
There is a parallel legend that says that Kane alone breathed life into the man-statue. At the same time, Kanaloa tried to duplicate Kane's feat, but his statue failed to come to life. So he challenged Kane, saying something to the effect, "that man will live only a certain span of time, and then he will die. When he dies, I will claim him as my own."
This seems to tie in with his position as ruler of the dead as an entity separate from Kane. Some versions say that Kanaloa is the alter ego of Kane, the dark half so to speak. Others say he is a lesser God who was created to be in charge of the dead. Prior to about 1100 A.D., there is no mention of Kanaloa. It is generally belived  that Kanaloa is therefore, an addition from some later wave of immigration to the islands.
There is another, completely separate, legend about the creation of man. In that version, the first-born son of the sky father and the earth mother is stillborn.
When the son is buried, the first Kalo plant springs from his navel. The second born son is man. Hence the two sons are eternally connected. Man tends his brother the Kalo, and the Kalo feeds his brother the man. In that version there is no mention of Kane.
Aloha, the traditional greeting, was originally spoken while touching foreheads and exchanging a breath of air. This is possibly a reflection of the legend, exchanging the breath of life, originally given by the Gods.


In Hawaiian mythology Kū or Kū-ka-ili-moku is one of the four great gods along with KanaloaKāne, and Lono.
He is known as the god of war and the husband of the goddess Hina. Some have taken this to suggest a complementary dualism, as the word kū in the Hawaiian language means " to stand " while one meaning of hina is " to fall ".
Feathered god images or 'aumakua hulu manu are considered to represent Kū. Kū is worshipped under many names, including Kū-ka-ili-moku (also written Kūkaʻilimoku), the "Seizer of Land".
Kū-ka-ili-moku was the guardian of Kamehameha I who erected monuments to him at the Holualoa Bay royal center and his residence at Kamakahonu. Rituals included human sacrifice, which was not part of the worship of the other gods. One feathered god image in the Bishop Museum, Honolulu is thought to be Kamehameha I's own image of his god. However it is still unclear whether all feathered god images represent Kū.


In Hawaiian mythology, the deity Lono is associated with fertility, agriculture, rainfall, music and also peace. In one of the many Hawaiian legends of Lono, he is a fertility and music god who descended to Earth on a rainbow to marry Laka. In agricultural and planting traditions, Lono was identified with rain and food plants. He was one of the four gods (with Kāne, and Kāne's twin brother Kanaloa) who existed before the world was created. Lono was also the god of peace. In his honor, the great annual festival of the Makahiki was held. During this period (from October through February), war and unnecessary work was kapu (forbidden). In Hawaiian weather terminology, the winter Kona storms that bring rain to leeward areas are associated with Lono. Lono brings on the rains and dispenses fertility, and as such was sometimes referred to as Lono-makua (Lono the Provider). Ceremonies went through a monthly and yearly cycle. For 8 months of the year, the luakini was dedicated to Ku-with strict kapus. Four periods (kapu pule) each month required strict ceremonies. Violators could have their property seized by priests or overlord chiefs, or be sentenced to death for serious breaches.


The traditions of ancient Hawaii, Kanaloa is symbolised by the squid or by the octopus,
In legends and chants Kāne and Kanaloa are portrayed as complementary powers. For example: Kāne was called upon during the building of a canoe, Kanaloa during the sailing of it; Kāne governed the northern edge of the ecliptic, Kanaloa the southern; Kanaloa points to hidden springs, and Kāne then taps them out. In this way, they represent a divine duality of wild and taming forces like those observed (by Georges Dumézil, et al.) in Indo-European chief god-pairs like OdinTýr and Mitra–Varuna, and like the popular yin and yang of Chinese Taoism.
Kanaloa is also considered to be the god of the Underworld and a teacher of magic. Legends state that he became the leader of the first group of spirits "spit out" by the gods. In time, he led them in a rebellion in which the spirits were defeated by the gods and as punishment were thrown in the Underworld.
However, depictions of Kanaloa as a god of evil, death, or the Underworld, in conflict with good deities like Kāne (a reading that contradicts Kanaloa and Kāne's paired invocations and shared devotees in Ancient Hawaii) are likely the result of European missionary efforts to recast the four major divinities of Hawaii in the image of the Christian Trinity plus Satan In traditional, pre-contact Hawaii, it was Milu who was the god of the Underworld and death, not Kanaloa; the related Miru traditions of other Polynesian cultures confirms this.

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