Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Hawaiian Creation Story ~ More Mythology in Other Cultures

When I was in Hawaii, I went on a dolphin adventure boat tour to a little island just East of Maui, and on the way over, as the informational part of the tour, one of the guides told us a Hawaiian creation legend. I found that there are many parallels in terms of mythological content to that of the Ancient Greeks or Romans, simply in the sense that there are gods/godesses who control a certain aspect/element of the world and who aided in the creation of the world as we know it today.

The myth itself is explaining how the Hawaiian islands came to exist even though, as science has proved, it is known that the moving of tectonic plates and underwater lava flows created the land. It begins with Pele (Pronounced pay-lay), the Hawaiian godess of lava. Pele was born into what was, at her time, a relatively large family, consisting of 6-7 hundred brothers and sisters. As a young woman, Pele fell in love with the same man as one of her sisters, Akua (pronounced ah-cooh-ah), the Hawaiian godess of the ocean. Pele ended up winning the man's affections, which angered Akua to the point of flooding Pele's home. Pele fled, creating a new land with her magic lava stick, Paoa (pronounced pay-oh-ah), which later became known as the first and most Northeastern of the hawaiian islands, Ni'ihau. Akua came to Pele's new home very shortly after and flooded it as well, leaving only a small island in its place. Once again, Pele fled and created a new home for herself, and once again Akua destroyed it. This occured many more times until Pele reached the big island of Hawaii, where she currently resides. Legend is that she will once again be flooded out and create a new land to call her home (explains why there are still active volcanoes on Hawaii and why they become dormant or extinct like the other islands as well as the new Hawaiian island currently forming from a lava flow that will surface in a few million years)

As you can see, many cultures have their own legends and mythology explaining how everything came to exist, but many of those legends and myths follow a similar pattern in various cultures alike. For example, there are good gods and godesses and bad gods and godesses, gods and godesses who are in control of a specific element or force, and sacred items, lands and people in all cultural archetypes. In a way, I believe, these stories were a way for ancient people to make sense of the world and its happenings, and many of these myths are actually on the right track - just like the Hawaiian creation story which explains everything that science proves at a later date. Maybe the explainations are not as realistic as the science that  humans are now capable of, but they certainly are much simpler to understand and remember.

What do you think is significant about these stories and legends other than cultural meaning? Are there others that you have heard/seen that really make sense and have parallels to other legends in different cultures? Is it human nature to come up with a semi-logical explaination when there seems to be no answer?


  1. I believe that it is human nature to come up with an explanation to a lot of different situations, because everyone wants to have the right answers. I shows that, even when we don't have the answers we make up stories about what we think.
    My question is are they always right? Is this ok to do?

  2. People in society tend to come up with solutions to the given problem by applying knowledge they already have. Although that guess may be wrong, I think it is generally accepted to do so because society today is based on trial and error. There are still lots of concepts that have yet to be fully understood, and the way that our theories grow is from the prior solutions that are present throughout history. Despite the accuracy of these predictions, they act as a basis for human society to expand upon.

  3. And perhaps what is left for others to expand upon can become the more scientifically accurate answers that we seek in the begining, but have no means of finding. Archetypes, I think, are a way of understanding humans and relationships and whatever other crucial themes appear in them, just like prior to technology myths helped clarify worldly mysteries. Except I think that archetypes will continue to do that job because there isn't yet such a technology to solve the unscientific mysteries of life, and that's why they are important.