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The Meaning Behind Hawaiian Symbols

©istockphoto/aimintang ©istockphoto/aimintang

Modern day Hawaii upholds many ancient traditions, passing meaning behind sacred symbols and meanings to each generation. Symbols often generated in nature, are still seen in the wild, as well as through jewelry pieces and tattoo art. It is said those who wear, or worship, the symbol generate that energy behind the symbol. Keep the Aloha spirit and tradition alive through the energy, meaning and spirit behind these ancient Hawaiian symbols.

Makau – Fish Hook Pendant
Hawaiians have a deep connection and understanding of the ocean. The Makau is a fishhook pendant, which was used in ancient times to find food. During the early eras, locals would create fishhooks out of various materials – bones, wood, coral and stone. Today, the fish hook necklaces sold represent everything good: strength, prosperity and good luck. Pendants are often made in bone, wood or jade materials.

Rainbow
The rainbow has various meanings in Hawaiian culture. They are the celestial path Hawaiian Gods use to visit the earth but they are also the pathway for deceased souls to transport to heaven. The rainbow primarily represents transformation. It is also known that those who can connect to the spirit and “upper” world will live abundant lives as humans.

Hawaiian Flowers
The Hibiscus is a popular flower representing delicate beauty and sunshine. It is known that women who wear the flower behind the right ear are single and the left ear represents a woman who is romantically attached. The Bird of Paradise is another exotic flower seen throughout Hawaii. The Hawaiian name for the flower means, “Little Globe,” and represents joy and magnificence. Orchids are indigenous to Hawaiian landscapes and are symbolic toward refinement and beauty.

Green Sea Turtle
Turtles are one of the oldest creatures on earth. The Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle, known as “Honu,” symbolizes good luck, endurance and long life. Turtles can show up as a person’s guardian spirit, known as “Aumakua.” When lost, turtles are excellent navigators and often find their way home. Legend states that a green sea turtle guided the first Polynesian settlers to the islands. In historic days, only the rich were allowed to consume turtles as food. In modern times, sea turtles are protected by the Endangered Species act and there are severe penalties just for giving them stinkeye.

The Guardian Spirits
Guardian spirits come in natural or animal form. It is possible to have more than one “Aumakua,” or spirit guide, where a deceased ancestor took a life form to guide an individual. Many natives and locals tattoo one or all of the Guardian Spirits on the body. In Hawaiian tradition, the shark, gecko and owl are significant guardian spirits. A shark is known as a protector. The gecko is known as the animal that could communicate to the Gods and is a protector of homes. The owl or “Pueo,” is one of the oldest manifestations that flew over the Hawaiian lands before settlement. The owl was specifically skilled in battle and represents mysterious wisdom.

Circles
Circles appear in artwork, petroglyphs and jewelry pieces. The Hawaiians believed a closed circle represented a seamless life, one that has no beginning or end. Therefore, it contains sacred knowledge that is interconnected to the stars and planets in the circle of life. When used with the Koru, a fern representing new life and purity, in artwork it represents a new life, love or beginning in the circle of life.