ELEVEN MORE DEITIES FROM HAWAIIAN MYTHOLOGY

The reaction to my initial list of the Top Eleven Deities In Hawaiian Mythology has been nothing short of phenomenal. Many people indicated they had no idea that the islands had such a large and colorful pantheon of deities. They also indicated they wanted to know more about some of the other gods and goddesses in the myths of the Hawaiian Islands, so here is Part Two of my look at Hawaiian Mythology as a subset of Polynesian Mythology. I’ll be addressing other Polynesian Island groups in the near future. For Part One click here: https://glitternight.com/2011/02/20/the-top-eleven-deities-in-hawaiian-mythology/

For other pantheons I’ve covered click here:

KOREAN MYTH – https://glitternight.com/2011/03/24/the-top-11-deities-in-korean-mythology/ 

SHINTO MYTH – http://www.makethelist.net/the-top-10-deities-in-shinto-mythology/

NORSE MYTHS – https://glitternight.com/2011/04/10/the-eleven-most-neglected-deities-in-teutono-norse-mythology/

AZTEC MYTHS – https://glitternight.com/2011/05/10/the-top-eleven-deities-in-aztec-mythology/

FOR INUIT GODS AND GODDESSES CLICK HERE- https://glitternight.com/2011/06/06/the-top-12-deities-from-inuit-mythology-2/

*****NEW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! CHOCTAW INDIAN GODS AND GODDESSES – https://glitternight.com/2012/06/03/the-top-twelve-deities-in-choctaw-mythology/

11. OPUHALA – The goddess of coral, coral reefs and canoe bailers. Because of the sharp, abrasive nature of coral, fish with spiny scales were also considered to be under her rule. She was the daughter of the sea god Kanaloa and the aunt of the demigod Maui. In some traditions it is said she provided enormous jagged chunks of coral for Maui to use as hooks when he was fishing up islands.  

10. KALAIPAHOA – The Hawaiian poison god. His images were always carved from the nioi, a poisonous pepper tree sacred to him. He was believed to be able to ride comets across the sky. Kalaipahoa was originally worshipped only on the island of Molokai but his worship spread to all the other Hawaiian Islands after their unification into a single kingdom under Kamehameha I. Oddly, this god is also associated with gamblers.    

9. PUENUI – The god of owls. He had the power to restore life to wandering spirits he would encounter during his nocturnal hunting. He and the night-flying birds he was the lord of loved to feed on the Menehune, the Hawaiian version of elves and dwarves who were the mythical original inhabitants of the Hawaiian Islands. Being nocturnal, Puenui courted the moon goddess Hina, who rejected him and the nightly cooing of all owls is said to represent the god’s mournful longing for the object of his unrequited love.

8. KANA – Known as “the stretching god”. This unusual deity is noted for his ability to stretch his body over tremendous distances, like stretching his legs to so great a length he could walk from island to island like they were stepping stones. When the chief of Moloka’i and his men abducted Kana’s mother the god stood on the beach the abductors had set sail from and stretched his torso all the way out to sea to rescue her. 

His greatest feat was returning the sun, moon and the stars when gods from Tahiti had stolen them. Various geographical features on the Hawaiian Islands are said to be footprints and battle aftermath from this god’s adventures. 

7. POLIAHU – The Hawaiian snow goddess, who lives on the snow-capped mountain Mauna Kea on the Big Island. The Hawaiian Islands are one of the few Polynesian Island groups that ever receive snow, so such a deity is rare  indeed in that part of the world.

Poliahu was courted and married by the semi-divine chief Aiwohi, but when he was unfaithful to her with a previous lover she surrounded the two of them with constant snowfall until the woman deserted him. Poliahu then abandoned him herself. Her younger sister is Lillinoe, the goddess of the mists.  

6. RANGI – Also called Wakea, Rangi was the sky god who, with his wife Papa the Earth goddess, spawned many of the major deities in the Polynesian pantheon. His  son, the god Kane, separated the Earth and sky to make room for himself and the other gods and goddesses to be born and so that the rest of creation could proceed.

Rainfall is said to be Rangi’s tears of sadness at being separated from Papa. In some traditions it is Rangi instead of Lono who was said to have used a net to fish up the sun and the moon and set them in orbit. After his separation from Papa he took to fishing up human beings to his position in the sky and devouring them. Maui put a stop to that by pushing the sky (Rangi) up even further away from the Earth, putting people out of range of Rangi’s fishing nets.    

5. PULUPULU – The patron god of canoe makers, credited with inventing the adze, a tool used in chopping, shaving and hollowing trees out into canoes. He was invoked before chopping down sacred ohi’a trees used in building heiau temples. He was a son of the god Kane, lord of trees, forests and jungles and his vocation as canoe builder was appropriate to that filial role.

Since trees were part of Kane’s domain and canoes were built from wood obtained from trees, canoes and other ocean-going vessels were seen as an extension of Kane’s ages-old rivalry with his brother, the sea god Kanaloa. The idea went that boats allowed land-dwellers to survive out on the element commanded by Kanaloa as well as to fish and therefore feed on the sea god’s subjects.

Pulupulu was eventually banished from the Hawaiian islands by the fire goddess Pele for siding with their sister Hi’i’aka when she and Pele were both in love with the mortal Prince Lohiau.  For details click HERE

4. HINA – The moon goddess who was the sister and eventually the wife of Maui, the sun god. Hina was the patron goddess of tapa beating and the figures on the face of the moon are said to be Hina beating tapa.

Hina’s beauty made her much sought after and she rejected the advances of the owl god Puenui in a famous myth. She supposedly first traveled to the moon to get some peace from the constant attentions of her suitors. At one point Maui transformed her husband Ika into the first dog, and that is why this goddess is often depicted with a dog at her side.

Eventually the eel god Tetuna stole Hina away to be his lover and when Maui came to free her he first had to defeat Tetuna’s legion of sea monsters, then Tetuna himself. Maui transformed the slain eel god into the first coconut trees, with his slender body the trunks and his head becoming the coconut fruit. Maui and Hina then married each other.      

3. PAPA – The Earth goddess and the wife of Rangi, the sky god. Together they were the parents of the next generation of major deities, like Kane,  Lono, Ku, Haumea, Kanaloa etc. When the constant lovemaking of Papa and Rangi was leaving no room for all the deities forming in her womb to be born, Kane, the god of trees and other wild plant life, was the only god powerful enough to separate the Earth and sky so that he and his siblings could be born and so that the rest of creation could commence.

Only Luau, the god of earthquakes, remained in Papa’s womb and he is still there today, with his stirring being the cause of earthquakes. Papa is a very complex deity and is sometimes worshipped as if she is also Haumea the mother- goddess and Milu the death goddess or, conversely,as if they are each aspects of Papa. Most often, however, they are regarded as three separate entities.      

2. HI’ I’AKA – The goddess of journeys and journeyers, pathways and wayfarers. Lost travelers pray to her to guide them. In some traditions Hi’i’aka is credited with inventing the Hawaiian lei.

This sister of the fire goddess Pele is a central figure in a famous Hawaiian epic myth in which both she and Pele are in love with Lohiau, a mortal prince of the island of Kauai. Pele falls in love with Lohiau first and dispatches Hi’i’aka from Mt Kilauea on the Big Island all the way to Kauai to bring Lohiau back to be her husband. Complications arise when Hi’i’aka falls in love with Lohiau herself and he returns her affections.

Their journey involves many perils and menaces as well as encounters with many other deities in the Hawaiian pantheon. The tale also includes  Hi’i’aka’s journey to the realm of Milu the death goddess to bring  Lohiau back to life after Pele kills him in a jealous rage. Eventually she and Lohiau return to Kauai to live together happily. For the full story click HERE

Hi’i’aka is sometimes identified with Pele’s other sister Laka, the goddess of love and beauty.  

Balladeer's Blog

Balladeer’s Blog

1. KANALOA – Also called Tangaroa, he is the sea god and a brother of the gods Ku, Lono and Kane. He rules over the sea and all the creatures in it and is often depicted as part man, part squid. He was one of the gods who mated with the goddess Haumea and a popular myth holds that after the couple produced the lesser sea gods he and Haumea mated in the forms of each of the  creatures of the deep, spawning the first brood of each species.

Not long after Kane separated Papa and Rangi Kanaloa fought with the gods under the leadership of Kane for supremacy of the world. The deities under Kane emerged triumphant, mostly due to the battle prowess of Ku, the god of war. In fact, on one front of the war, the island of Havaiki, the mythical homeland of all the Polynesian peoples, a son of Ku named Uenuku led tribes of Kane supporters against tribes of Kanaloa supporters.

Uenuku’s people emerged triumphant and drove the Kanaloa worshippers off the island but Kanaloa retaliated by gradually submerging Havaiki, forcing the victors to abandon the island as well, with this mass evacuation being the mythical cause of the mass nautical migration of the Polynesians to various scattered island groups.

This is also why submerged Havaiki is sometimes seen as the land of the dead in some tellings. In other versions there is a tripartite division of the dead with wicked souls going to Milu, virtuous souls going to Hunamoku and the souls of people who die at sea going to Havaiki. In some Polynesian myths Kane and Kanaloa came to be seen as two sides of the same god, causing creation on both land and sea. 

ART BY ANNA FEUERENSTEINER

ART BY ANNA FEUERENSTEINER

 

© Edward Wozniak and Balladeer’s Blog, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Edward Wozniak and Balladeer’s Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.     

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116 Comments

Filed under Mythology

116 responses to “ELEVEN MORE DEITIES FROM HAWAIIAN MYTHOLOGY

  1. Phyllis

    A goddess of coral and a poison god plus a god who stretches like Mr Fantastic! love this group of gods!

  2. I love this post. As a child one of my favourite books was “The Legends of Olympus”, which is the story of the ancient Greek gods and godesses. I’ve always been fascinated by mythology, and what you’re writing about is very exciting and completely new to me. Everybody in this part of the world learns (or at least hears) about Greek, Celtic and Roman hystory and mythology, but that’s about it. The Polynesian Islands are so remote from us that it feels like it’s a different world entirely, a world that we don’t know very much about. Everybody seems to be fascinated by them and I know a lot of people who dream to go on holiday there, but there isn’t much written or taught about these islands. Which is a shame, because I find your presentation of their mythology very interesting and there are similarities with the mythologies that I am familiar with.

    P.S. I Haven’t decided which is my favourite Hawaiian deity yet!

    • Thank you so much for this comment! I can relate to your love of that book when you were a child. I was 9 or 10 years old when I first got into mythology. I started off with Graeco Roman, Teutono-Norse and Egyptian as a child, then moved on to Hindu later, then as I got well-versed in each new pantheon curiousity drove me to read about others til I got to my present state of familiarity even with the obscure ones. In keeping with my blog’s theme I like to cover the ones that get very little attention. Since you and so many others have enjoyed the Hawaiian entries so much I will start a new semi-regular segment about a Hawaiian god of the day, similar to my Cool-Named Team of the Day feature. I’ll be starting it soon. Thanks again for commenting! I always try to keep you and George entertained!

  3. Linda

    Beautiful work you do here. I’m telling my daughter about your blog since you cover a lot of goddesses I’m sure she would love to read about.

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  5. Wonderful look at some overlooked goddesses. You’ve gotten me hooked on Polynesian myths.

  6. Val Prichard

    Cheers for sharing this! I usee to think Greece and Rome were the only places that had gods like this.

  7. Hiiaka is a nadventure I want to read!

  8. Very very nice! The owl god myth is kind of sad and the marriage of Hina and Maui is pretty kinky!

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  10. A poison god? That owl god story is sad but great! !

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  22. That sea god made Havaiki a Pacific Ocean atlantis!

  23. Dear Balladeer,

    I’m searching for myths about the lost continent of Atlantis. According to some it is somewhere in Pacific (lemuria) or in the Caribean (atlantis). I understand that a the flood story is a motif in my mythologies. Can you run down the a list of cultures that contain a flood story like that of noah’s ark?

    Cheers,
    T. Dum.

    • Hello! Sorry for the delay but with all the basketball this month I am WAY behind on replying to comments.

      Thanks for asking me this question. This post answers part of your question, since the gradual submergence of Havaiki could be viewed as a flood myth, but with a more realistic number of survivors in terms of a viable gene pool.

      I’ll answer in terms of flood myths that seem to have developed independently of contact with Christian missionaries since those tales reek too much of simply incorporating the Biblical flood story. One example would be the Hawaiian Noah – called Nu’u – whose story and name are clearly imitations of Noah. Another example of that kind would be the Choctaw flood myth, which originally just dealt with a flood separating the Choctaw and Chickasaw people but after Christian contact was transformed into the usual flood that wiped out nearly all life on Earth.

      At any rate,there was the Mesopotamian forerunner of Noah, Utnapishtim, who was warned by the gods to save himself and his family from the flood they caused to punish humanity. Afterward Utnapishtim was granted immortality and was still alive to tell his story to the demigod Gilgamesh.

      The Greek flood myth detailed Deucalion and his wife Pyhrra, being warned by Deucalion’s father Prometheus about the flood Zeus was unleashing to punish humanity’s hubris. The two survived in an ark and then repopulated the world by throwing stones behind them – his stones transformed into male humans and her stones transformed into female humans.

      Manu was the name of the hero in the Hindu flood myth. He was a fisherman warned by a fish (really an incarnation of Vishnu) about the upcoming flood and did the whole ship-building bit to save human and animal life. The fish that was really Vishnu appeared again, giant- sized now, and towed Manu’s ship to safety.

      The Persian version of the flood features their Noah-figure being warned about the flood and taking animals to the top of a very high mountain where they wait out the flood from the safety of high ground.

      The Norse flood myth features frost giants, not humans, getting wiped out, since humans weren’t created yet. When Odin and his brothers, Villi and Ve, killed the enormous frost giant Ymir, his blood (water) wiped out all the frost giant race, except for Bergelmir, who built a high tower in which he and his family waited out the flood and then emerged to repopulate the frost giant race.

      The Aztecs believed we are in the Fifth World and that the four previous worlds had been destroyed, the fourth one by a flood. See my Aztec deities list for a detailed account.

      The Navajo and other Native American tribes believed that people used to live in subterranean worlds and that some of those worlds had to be evacuated due to floods.

      Throughout South America there were literally more than a dozen variations of floods wiping out an earlier “evil” race, following which the world was repopulated. I can provide a list of the tribal names if you need them.

  24. Very nice to learn about new gods

  25. Kanaloa is my favorite!

  26. Love the hunky male Hawaiian gods!

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  31. R.M.Beihl

    Aloha. The picture you posted is from a painting by Moloka’i artist Anna Fuerensteiner. Please give her credit for the image.

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  34. That sea god sounds kickass!

  35. The owl god is a stalker.

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  50. Ernie

    I am in the process of writing some of the Polynesian Myths into a lose form of Hawaiian petroglyphs. Your translations of the Polynesian myths is very helpful. Since I am searching for the different stories, I know how much work it is. I like to thank you for your excellent results.

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  52. You need more pictures to go alongside these gods dude. Cheers

  53. Great website! Love these gods!

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  55. Kamapua kicks total ass.

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  58. The owl god couldn’t catch a break.

  59. Pennie B

    I like Hiiaka the best.

  60. Hi there! That myth about the owl god is kind of sad.

  61. I love these myths and the way you present them!

  62. This is a very educational blog you write here.

  63. Berry

    These gods are aweseome!

  64. Carter Lee Churchfield

    This is so interesting! Thanks for compiling these. Do you think you’ll include Kapo the fertility goddess at some point?

    • Hello! Thank you very much! I may well do an in-depth look at Kapo in the future. I also did a detailed breakdown of Hi’iaka’s journey to and from Kauai with Prince Lohiau if you’re interested.

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