The rainbow is the celestial path that the Hawaiian Gods use to come down to earth from the cloud islands. The Rainbow Goddess, Anuenue, who is sister to the primal gods Kane and Kanaloa, acts as a messenger of the Gods. Lono, the God of Fertility and Music, descended on a rainbow to marry Laka, the Hawaiian Goddess of Music and Dance.
The rainbow is also perceived as the pathway that the souls of the dead take to travel to the heavenly realms. The souls have walk on the rainbow path to pass through Kuaihelani, a mysterious floating island, which translates to “supporting the heavens or spiritual” to reach the sacred land of Nu’umealani, the bright, elevated and fragrant land of “the heavenly one”.
The rainbow is thus a symbol of transformation, and those who can freely travel between the upper world and the lower reaches live like gods among humans, enjoying earthly prosperity and abundance.
Featured as a pathway between dimensions in Hawaiian mythology as it does in various cultures round the world, it also acts as a footstool for Malanaikuaheahea, the wife of the legendary transpacific voyager and astronomer whose name, Maliki’i is also the Hawaiian term for the Pleiades star cluster from which the first Hawaiians came to earth.
The Rainbow in Hawaiian Petroglyphs
Found among Hawaiian petroglyphs are the depictions of a rainbow woman and rainbow man or rainbow warrior. The woman is often depicted with an arch or rainbow over her head, indicating she is wise, honored and respected, and is drawn with an open torso to represent the womb and the birth canal.
Behind Rainbow Falls near Hilo is a save thought to be the dwelling of the Goddess of the Moon, Hina, who makes her home near water. If you time your visit perfectly, you can catch a beautiful rainbow or maybe two arching over the 80 ft waterfalls.
The rainbow man petroglyph has been interpreted to mean Keeper of the Aina or of the land and its people. Such petroglyphs are found in the Big Island’s lava fields and in the sacred Iao Valley of Maui. When you examine the petroglyph, you can se that the arc or rainbow begins and rests on his shoulders, suggesting man’s responsibility to earth as a rainbow warrior or one of those who revere ancient wisdom found in the world’s cultures and practice it actively for peace, harmony and enlightenment for all community.
One of the island legends predict that the return of rainbows to earth that the world is poised for a big change.
The rainbow is often linked to transformation and peace. A legend of Anuenue says that she saved a little girl, Ua or Rain, from falling to her death from a steep cliff. Ua grew up to marry the son of a rival chief and their bonding brought peace to the island of Kauai.
To the ancient Hawaiians, babies destined to become great chieftains are born with rainbows over their homes, and are accompanied by rainbows throughout their lives.
Rainbow Colors and Goddesses
There are some shamanic interpretations which ascribe each color of the rainbow to a Hawaiian Goddess. Meditating on or surrounding yourself with the color while invoking the name of the goddess will bring about the attributes associated with the specific goddess. In this shamanic school, Hina is Uli, the Mother of Creation, and Uli is the Moon Goddess.
The roles and attributes are as follows:
- Hina, who bestows knowledge and awareness, is associated with white and the element of water.
- Haumea, who promises freedom and release, bears the color red and has stone as her element.
- Pele infuses energy and focus, commands the Fire element and the color orange.
- Hi’iaka gives presence and purpose, directs the wind and is linked with the color yellow.
- Laka showers love and compassion, is associated with the color green and has plants as her element.
- Kapo, giver of power and ability, has blue as her color and animals as her element.
- Uli, who endows success and effectiveness, has purple as her color and people as her element.
Just as clouds, thunder, lightning and rain precede every rainbow, the rainbow symbolizes the reward to be if you are willing to work through a stormy issue or a dark aspect of yourself. Your pot of gold to be found at the end of every rainbow is self-awareness and self-mastery, and with that an awareness of all the elements of life itself.