The Meaning of Aumakua

The Meaning of Aumakua

by Huna Kalani

The old gods of Hawai'i include akua (esoteric powers) and aumakua (ancestral guardian spirits). Many Hawaiians believed that aumakua would guard people, animals, fishes and plants and protect 'ohana (families and villages).

Descriptions of akua were often consistent between districts and islands, while descriptions of aumakua were often differed between villages and families. Aumakua were often assumed to reside in special animals or plants.

The word aumakua is the combination of au which means far traveling and makua means ancestors. Many Hawaiians from the Ka'u District of the Big Island consider Pele, the volcano goddess, to be an ancestor and hence aumakua. If Pele is your aumakua, you can ask her for favors and protection. Elsewhere in Hawaii, Pele is respected as an Akua or a sometimes dangerous goddess.

The aumakua of old Hawai'i were often symbolized as a wooden or stone tiki or statue.

Aumakua were perceived as ancestral spirits; guardian angels who could help their descendents if asked. Aumakua had both male and female elements.

There is a Hawaiian concept that says you may keep ele'ele eke (black bags) in your body. These dark regions represent unresolved trauma - as if some part of you is isolated and still experiencing the trauma. The location of a black bag in your body was assumed to be a focus for chronic disease.  Aumakua can open black bags and liberate trapped "younger selves", helping you accept and integrate lost or younger versions of yourself Thus helping you to heal psychosomatic disease.

Aumakua are deified ancestors respected as advisors and healers. You can invite them to festivities and feasts and you can seek their help in times of crisis. Aumakua can solve family problems and heal sickness. Aumakua can also punish family members; sometimes with disease. This is one reason why Hawaiians are respectful of their aumakua.

Aumakua can be called with gifts of mana (energy), by a kupuna (respected family member) or by a kahuna (expert).

If you lose contact with your personal aumakua or ancestral spirit, a kahuna can help you ask your deceased ancestors to reestablish your lineage and family connections. Your aumakua can find your ancestors and recreate connections (aka) between you and them.