The world of the ancient Hawaiians was also rich with spiritual forces that were closely linked to their natural environment. Certain species were considered sacred ‘aumākua, guardian spirits that might be seen in visions or dreams.
This connection to the natural world and these spiritual beliefs continue today—the Hawaiian culture is a living culture, and the ancient philosophies still resonate in the daily lives of Hawaiians.
As personal or family gods, ‘aumākua may take on various physical manifestations, becoming incarnate in living animals that appear to warn or protect.
Some ‘aumākua are the ‘io (Buteo solitarius, Hawaiian hawk), manō (shark), pueo (Asio flammeus, short-eared Owl), honu (Chelonia mydas, sea turtle), kōlea (Pluvialis fulva, Pacific golden plover), and hīnālea (Labridae, wrasse), with different species being ‘aumākua to different people or families.
An ancient Hawaiian saying states: “‘Ano lani; ‘ano honua.”
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