In The Beginning…
In the beginning in Hawaiian mythology, Po was a vast, empty land, a dark abyss where only one life form dwelled. This was the spirit of Keawe. A single light shown through the darkness of Po-a flame holding the energy of creation. In this chaotic vortex, Keawe evolved order. He opened his great calabash and flung the lid into the air. As it unfolded, it became the huge canopy of blue sky. From his calabash, Keawe drew an orange disk, hanging it from the sky to become the sun.
Next Keawe manifested himself as Na Wahine, a female divinity considered his daughter. In addition, he became Kane, his own son, also known as Eli or Eli-Eli, who was the male generative force of creation. In the Kumulipo, the best known of the Hawaiian creation chants, the feats of Eli-Eli are detailed in rhythmic litany. Na Wahine and Kane mated spiritually to produce a royal family, who became additional primary gods worshipped by the Hawaiian people.
In ancient chants and rituals, three sons: Ku, Lono, and Kanaloa, along with Kane are the four major Hawaiian gods. Keawe made Kane the ruler of natural phenomena, such as the earth, stones, fresh water. Most importantly, Ku as Kukailimoku was god of war, but he also reigned over woodlands and crops, and in various forms was worshipped by craftsmen
Kanaloa was responsible for the southern Pacific Ocean and as such was god of seamen and lord of fishermen. Lono, as lord of the sun and of wisdom, caused the earth to grow green. As a god of medicine, he had a particular interest in keeping herbs and medicinal plants flourishing. Lono was the god who presided over the makahiki season when war ceased and taxes were paid to the ali’i.
Kane and Na Wahine also had daughters. Among them, Laka was the goddess of hula; Hina was the mother of Maui who pulled the Hawaiian Islands from the ocean; and Kapo was the goddess of the South Pacific and was largely worshipped on Maui. Among the major divinities was the goddess Papa, queen of nature, and the man she married, called Wakea. In legend, Papa and Wakea’s first child was born deformed like a taro root. From the child’s grave, the first taro plant grew to furnish sustenance to the rest of the human race, which had its origins in this first couple.