In Hawaiian mythology
Hawaiian mythology
Hawaiian mythology refers to the legends, historical tales and sayings of the ancient Hawaiian people. It is considered a variant of a more general Polynesian mythology, developing its own unique character for several centuries before about 1800. It is associated with the Hawaiian religion...

, Hiiaka is a daughter of Haumea and Kāne
In Hawaiian mythology, Kāne is considered the highest of the four major Hawaiian deities, along with Kanaloa, Kū, 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...

. She was the patron goddess of Hawaii
Hawaii is the newest of the 50 U.S. states , and is the only U.S. state made up entirely of islands. It is the northernmost island group in Polynesia, occupying most of an archipelago in the central Pacific Ocean, southwest of the continental United States, southeast of Japan, and northeast of...

 and the hula dancers, and takes on the task of bearing the clouds - variously, those of storms and those produced by her sister's volcanos, and lived in a grove of Lehua trees which are sacred to her where she spent her days dancing with the forest spirits. She is also called Hiiaka-i-ka-poli-o-Pele literally meaning "Cloud bearer cradled in the bosom of Pele". Hiiaka was conceived in Tahiti
Tahiti is the largest island in the Windward group of French Polynesia, located in the archipelago of the Society Islands in the southern Pacific Ocean. It is the economic, cultural and political centre of French Polynesia. The island was formed from volcanic activity and is high and mountainous...

, but carried in the form of an egg to Hawaii by Pele
Pele (mythology)
In the Hawaiian religion, Pele is the goddess of fire, lightning, wind, and volcanoes. She is a popular figure in many stories of ancient Hawaii known as Hawaiian mythology.-Legends:...

, who kept the egg with her at all times to incubate it. Hiiaka is Pele's favorite and most loyal sister, although they have also had their differences.

At one point in time, Pele left her body to appear in spirit at a festival on Kauai
Kauai or Kauai, known as Tauai in the ancient Kaua'i dialect, is geologically the oldest of the main Hawaiian Islands. With an area of , it is the fourth largest of the main islands in the Hawaiian archipelago, and the 21st largest island in the United States. Known also as the "Garden Isle",...

 (in most versions of the legend; another variation has her visit Kauai physically while first seeking a home http://www.sacred-texts.com/pac/hm/hm13.htm) where she fell in love with a young chief named Lohiau. Upon her return, she longed for him and decided to send a messenger to bring him to her. Hiiaka volunteered to go on the dangerous journey, as long as Pele would protect her sacred grove of Lehua trees and her friend, Hopoe (meaning "one encircled, as with a lei or with loving arms").

Pele agreed to Hiiaka's request, but insisted that she return with Lohiau within 40 days. She also instructed Hiiaka not to fall in love with Lohiau, or even embrace him.

Palauopalae, the Guardian of the Ferns, was sent to be Hiiaka's companion. Along the way, a woman by the name of Wahineomao (or literally, "light-skinned woman") joined them. Hiiaka's journey was filled with many adventures, such as dueling with the kupua
In Hawaiian mythology, the Kupua are a group of demigods: heroic tricksters.Hawaiian myths and legends abound with such characters. They are traditionally described as monsters having the power of appearing in different kinds of bodies. They usually have cruel and vindictive characters and are...

(demons) of the island forests, but when at last she reached Kauai she found that the young chief had died from longing for Pele. She was able to revive him with chanting and prayer, but she was not able to return to Pele within 40 days. Pele, fearing that Hiiaka had betrayed her and was keeping the handsome chief for herself, became enraged and not only destroyed Hiiaka's sacred lehua forest, but also killed Hopoe, turning her into stone.

When Hiiaka returned, seeing her friend dead and her forest ravaged, she took revenge on Pele and embraced Lohiau. In retaliation, Pele sent waves of lava at the couple. Hiiaka was unharmed, but Lohiau was killed by the lava. Again, Hiiaka revived him, thus bringing him back to life twice.

Pele, regretting her actions toward Hiiaka's forest and friend, decided to let Lohiau choose who he wanted to be with. Some versions of the legend say that Lohiau chose Hiiaka over Pele and returned with her to Kauai. Others say he decided to remain with the both of them. Still others say that he retreated to Kauai alone. But it's most widely believed that after their long and dangerous journey from Kaua'i, Lohiau had come to love and greatly admire Hi'iaka for her bravery, loyalty, kindness and beauty. He chose her for his wife and took her back to Kaua'i to be with him.

Hiiaka sisters

There were "twelve" or "forty sisters", all daughters of Haumea. [The word /hii-aka/ has the meaning of 'embryo', and is a compound of /hii/ 'to hold or carry in the arms (scil., a child)' and /aka/ 'embryo at the moment of conception; carefully'.]


These included Hiiaka-i-ka-pua-enaena : "The skin of any person she possessed reddened. She was also known as Kuku-ena-i-ke-ahi-hoomau-honua (beating hot in the perpetual earth fire), and in this guise she was ... guide to travelers lost in the wilderness, and vanished when they found their way. She was also known as Hiiaka-i-ka-puaaneane (Hiiaka in extreme old age). Lit., Hiiaka in the smoking heat."


They also included Hiiaka-i-ka-poli-o-Pele : "One of her forms was the palaā lace fern ... one of the first plants to grow on new lava. ... She instituted the eating of fish from head to tail. ... Lit., Hiiaka in the bosom of Pele."

Defeating monsters

Soul-journey in "a deep sleep during which the spirit leaves her body" :-
"Hiiaka fights and overcomes a number of ... monsters.
  • The moo woman Panaewa, who impedes her way first in the form of fog (kino-ohu), then of sharp rain (kino-au-awa), then of a candlenut (kukui) tree, she entangles ... in a growth of vine ... .
  • Two moo, Kiha and Puaa-loa (Long hog), are caught in a flow of lava ... .
  • The shark at the mouth of Waipio valley who seizes swimmers crossing the bay is met and slain.
  • Moolau, chief of the jumping mo'o (mahiki) in the land of Mahiki-waena, is defied ... .
  • Two moo, Pili and Noho, who make travelers pay toll at the bridge across the Wailuku river, are rent jaw to jaw and the way opened for free traffic."

Shamanic soul-catching

  • "Refused hospitality at the home of the chief Olepau [or Kaulahea] in Iao valley, Hiiaka avenges the insult by catching his second soul, as it goes fluttering about as he lies sleeping, and dashing it against the rock Palahele near Waihee."
  • "Peleula is a famous makaula or seer, but Hiiaka prevails over her. Waihinano, the pert sorceress who defies her on Maui, has been brought up by Kapo and Pua, but Hiiaka catches and crushes to death the soul of the Maui chief for which they both contend. ... Pele gives Hiiaka to Paoa as his wife and he returns with her to Kaua'i".

See also

  • Lilo & Stitch 2 — Based in part on the story of Hiiaka
  • Hawaiian Legends of Volcanoes by William D. Westervelt

External links

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