Hānau Hou and Reincarnation

I wanted to share addition thoughts on the concept of reincarnation from the Hawaiian point of view. As pointed out by Dr. Rubelite Kawena Johnson and what is common among other Polynesians, Hawaiians believed that there were two souls (or one soul and one spirit depending on how you interprete it) -a wailua and an ʻuhane (also called the mauli). Both were eternal and existed before time began. The soul after death could leap into Milu (Meru), Ke Ao Mālamalama or the Hidden Islands of Kane or to Pō depending on the tradition and the pono-ness of the person. Also on the choice of the person. According to David Bray and from traditions that I know of, the spirit would remain on earth to be reborn as an ʻaumakua (if they were pono) or become a hungry ghost (if they were still clinging to this world). Sometimes, however, after centuries of being an ʻaumakua, a spirit could be reborn into the family line itself and the cycle would repeat. Hānau wawā is what I remember it being called. Sometimes, a hungry ghost could also be reborn into the family line if there was an intercession from the ancestors. Souls that were deified, however, could not be reborn into a family line because they were considered to be akua and being an akua meant essentially being a perpetual ʻaumakua.

One should also understand that akua and ʻaumakua share the same linguistic origins. In Hawaiian, ʻAu means group. Makua means parent. In other Austronesian languages such as in Sulawesi, matua means elder, clan head, or the main pole of the family house. Akua derives from the Proto-Austronesian term tua where Malays and Indonesians get their term Tuan (Lord, chief, etc). A tua may have been a clan chief of several clans or a tribal leader. For Polynesians, however, tua became atua and so ancient tribal chiefs and navigators became our akua and revered family heads and ancestors became our ʻaumakua. In venerating ʻaumakua and akua, Hawaiians were not venerating wooden statues. They were venerating ancestral lines, ancestral memories, and Ke Ao Mālamalama (the spiritual world). Also one quick note: Huna and New Age beliefs are not Hawaiian and should not be regarded as fitting into Hawaiian traditional beliefs which are much more complicated and rich.

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