This wonderous place
in Hilo, Hawaii
by Joed Miller.
all photos copyrighted
for use please contact webmaster
Elevation: 13,020 feet (3,969 m)
AND THE FOUR MAIDENS
THERE were four maidens with white mantles
in the mythology of the Hawaiians.
They were all queens of beauty, full of wit and wisdom,
lovers of adventure, and enemies of Pele.
They were the goddesses of the snow-covered mountains.
They embodied the mythical ideas of
spirits carrying on eternal warfare
between heat and cold, fire and frost,
burning lava and stony ice.
They ruled the mountains north of Kilauea
and dwelt in the cloud-capped summits.
They clothed themselves against the
bitter cold with snow-mantles.
They all had the power of laying aside
the white garment and taking
in its place clothes made from the golden sunshine.
Their stories are nature-myths derived
from the power of snow and cold
to check volcanic action and sometimes
clothe the mountain tops
and upper slopes with white,
which melted as the maidens came down
closer to the sea through lands made fertile
by flowing streams and blessed sunshine.
THE FOUR GODDESSES-
WAIAU- the snow-maiden of Mauna Kea, whose record in the legends
has been almost entirely forgotten. There is a beautiful lake glistening in one
of the crater-cones on the summit of the mountain. This was sometimes called
"The Bottomless Lake," and was supposed to go down deep into the heart
of the mountain. It is really forty feet in its greatest depth
--deep enough for the bath of the goddess.
The name Wai-au means water of sufficient depth to bathe.
LILINOE- was sometimes known as the goddess of the mountain Haleakala.
In her hands lay the power to hold in check the eruptions which might
break forth through the old cinder cones in the floor of the great crater.
She was the goddess of dead fires and desolation.
She sometimes clothed the long summit of the mountain with a
glorious garment of snow several miles in length.
Some legends give her a place as the wife of the great-flood survivor,
Nana-Nuu, recorded by Fornander as having a cave-dwelling
on the slope of Mauna Kea.
Therefore she is also known as one of the goddesses of Mauna Kea.
KAHOUPOKANE- was possibly the goddess of the mountain Hualalai,
controlling the snows which after long intervals fall on its desolate summits.
At present but little more than the name is known about this maiden of the snow-garment.
POLIAHOU- was the best-known among the maidens of the mountains,
loved the eastern cliffs of the great island Hawaii,
--the precipices which rise from the raging surf which beats
against the coast known now as the Hamakua district.
Here she sported among mortals, meeting the chiefs in their
many and curious games of chance and skill.
Sometimes she wore a mantle of pure white kapa and
rested on the ledge of rock overhanging the torrents of water
which in various places fell into the sea.
There is a legend of Kauai woven into the fairy-tale of the
maiden of the mist--Laieikawai--and in this story Poliahu
for a short time visits Kauai as the bride of one of the
high chiefs who bore the name Aiwohikupua.
The story of the betrothal and marriage suggests the
cold of the snow-mantle and shows the inconstancy of human hearts.
Most interestingly, while the lake is only 10 to,
at the deepest, maybe 15 to 20 feet deep,
it was known as The Bottemless Lake and was thought to be one
of several entrances to the Underworld on the Big Island.
The actual word, waiau (why-ow) means swirling water of a current
and wai'au'au (why-ow-ow) means bathing place,
which would lead us to assume a natural connection
with the goddess's name and the lake itself.
You can imagine, that with a goddess associated directly with the lake,
and the connection of the four snow goddesses with life giving water,
that Lake Waiau was indeed a most sacred place.
The water of the lake was known as the most sacred
of K?ne's waters in all of the islands of Hawai'i.
The Hawaiians who lived in Waimea also used the lake for placing
the piko (umbilical cord) of newborn babies into the lake.
The Waimea Hawaiians viewed Mauna Kea as special to them
and disposing of their newborns piko into the lake was thought
to bring strength and good fortune to the child.
It is thought that this practice may still continue today.
One can also imagine that given the sacredness of the waters
of the lake, that this would also be considered to be a
perfect burial ground, full of energy and mana (spirt, power).
Indeed, burial remains have been found in surrounding areas of the lake.
With this much religious and cultural significance we must be careful
to protect this land, sacred to the Hawaiians.
RESPECT THE AINA, RESPECT THE LEGENDS,
RESPECT WHAT WAS AND WHAT WILL BE.....
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sites copyrighted sept.1999