Some thoughts on the old Hawaiian religion

I thought maybe I would share some aspects of the Hawaiian religion that most Hawaiians have long ago forgotten but is well documented. I know that some Hawaiians or Huna might get upset with me for talking about the old religion. But it needs to be passed on. If you think of the old Hawaiian religious system as being bloodthirsty or full of restrictions, that is not entirely correct. If you think of the old Hawaiian religion as being “Huna” or passive, that is also not correct. The Hawaiian religious system of our ancestors was very rich and much of the concepts are hard to articulate in English. Too often those who right about it have an agenda that tries to link the religion to the Hebrews, the Egyptians, ancient space aliens, or some other civilization instead of looking for our links within Oceania. I think maybe its because for the last 200 years, we have been taught to have an inferiority complex so we have to look for validation from some other far off civilization instead of looking at the Pacific itself as our “cradle of civilization”. I will give an example. Most Hawaiians will think of the soul as being one because most have adopted Christianity. Those who studied what is called Huna will come up with some triune spirit concept which is not remotely Hawaiian. Rubelite Johnson once gave a great lecture on this topic decades ago and wrote a lot about this already and I agree with what she had to say on the topic. For Hawaiians, we have two souls. That is correct because that was also taught to me and that’s exactly the same concept Rapa Nui, Tahitians, Maori, Marquesans, and many Micronesians, Indonesians, Filipinos, and Taiwanese Aboriginals once had before they adopted Christianity, Buddhism or Islam. That is well documented and appears to be a belief most Pacific Islanders once held at least for the last 2,000 years. For Hawaiians, the soul (wailua) was divided into two: kino wailua and the ‘uhane. These two parts are dwell in the na’au (abdominal/gut) in a place called the pu’u mauli located by the liver. When a baby is born, they cry because they receive the hanu akua, the breath of the akua. The kino wailua then enters the body of the baby with the baby’s first ea (breath). It is this kino wailua that allows us to dream, to connect with our ancestors, and to have special charisma. When the body dies, the kino wailua becomes an ʻunihipili and fades away until it is ready to make the journey to the to the leinaka’uhane (or leaping place) and fades into the sea to become hanu once again. If the ‘unihipili however can not let go of this realm (i.e. unfinished business, harsh emotions, etc), it remains as a lapu or ghost. The second part of the soul, the ʻuhane, was the one that survives the body and is eternal on earth. Like the ‘kino wailua, it too also journeys to the leinaka’uhane when but does not enter into Pō, rather continues to pass on through the family line in the form of an ‘aumakua (guardian). In my family’s traditions, the ‘uhane itself is rejoined with a kino wailua (which is different from reincarnation) through the maternal line after four generations of being an ‘aumakua or being in the realm of Pō, depending on the deeds of the ‘uhane. Again, in my family’s traditions, the baby’s first birthday (it used to be the baby’s fourth year but now its the first year) is special because its an acknowledgement of the ‘uhane re-joining this realm, this ola ʻana. When I was tonsured into the mo’o kahuna (into a lesser order at that time and yes there are still kahuna around, not all lines died) when I was much younger, I was taught to think of the two souls shaping each other as one just as a river (the “lua” in “wailua” literally means “two” or “likenesses” in English) shapes a valley and the valley in return shapes the water. Our ancestors are like the mountains that protect the river and the valley while collecting rain to nourish the river and akua, whether uses the plural or the singular, is that rain itself that feeds the mountains, the valley, and the rivers within us. Eventually all rivers lead to the kahakai and ultimately to the moana. That is the same with our souls which will lead us into Pō. This complex system of life, breath, and eternity is some of the aspects of our old religion we should remember

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