Perspectives on the Male Divine

Lono, Lord of the Makahiki

In the Beginning

According to Hawaiian mythology, in the beginning, there was Po.  Po was an empty abyss in which dwelled Keawe, the creator.  Keawe manifested himself as male and female, Kane, the son, and Na Wahine, the daughter.  Kane and Na Wahine coupled and produced three sons, principal deities of Hawaii.  Included in the royal family were Na Wahine, Kane Kanaloa, Ku, and Lono.[1]

Responsibilities of Lono

Keawe named Lono god of wisdom and the sun.[2]  Lono was given dominion over agriculture and fertility.[3]  In this aspect, He initiated growth of all green things on earth and presided over native, herbal medicines.  Lono revitalizes the land and cultivates the gardens.[4]

The Lono Gourd

Traditionally found in each family’s private household place of worship is the Lono Ipu (Lono Gourd).  The Ipu, hung from a notched stick by string, is covered with wickerwork.  Inside are foodstuffs which are consumed every morning and evening by the male head of household.  This act honored Lono as benevolent provider to the family.

The Ipu plays an important part in the weaning ritual of male children.  During the weaning ceremony, the Goddess Kea is called upon to ensure that the child is prosperous.  Lono is called upon to present omens in the clouds and to guard the child against sorcery.  After the ceremony, the Ipu and the male child are moved to the men’s area of the household.  When the child is grown and founds his own household, the Ipu goes with him.[5]


Makahiki is a four month season beginning in late October.  Makahiki is a “first fruits festival” in honor of Lono.  During this period, light rains fall over the Hawaiian Islands, preparing the soil for new planting in March.  During Makahiki, taxation and wars cease, and huge festivals are attended by all.[6]

The basis for the Makahiki festival is found in myth.  The myth tells that Lono was lonely and desired a wife.  He sent two of his brothers to earth in search of a suitable bride.  The brothers found the beautiful Ka-iki-lani dwelling in the Waipio valley on the big Island of Hawaii.  Lono came to earth on a rainbow and married Ka-iki-lani, elevating to Goddess status.  The couple continued to reside on the big Island.

One day, Lono heard a human-chief singing seductive songs to Ka-iki-lani.  In a jealous rage, Lono slew Ka-iki-lani.  He was immediately remorseful.  In his contrition, Lono, inaugurated the Makahiki games to honor his lost love.

In honor of Lono, processions move throughout the Islands gathering first fruit offerings to be presented to Lono at one of the numerous luau celebrations.  Leading the gathering processions is the Lono-makua (Father Lono).  Lono-makua represents the physical form of the God during Makahiki.  The effigy is usually made from a ten to fifteen foot long wooden post decorated with white tapa cloth.  A sixteen foot cross piece is attached near the top of the post.  The cross piece is adorned with feather wreaths and skeletal representations of the kaupu bird.


ASSOCIATED WITH:                      Clouds, Thunderstorms, Stars, The Heavens

SIGNS OF THE GOD:                      Whirlwinds, Lightning, Earthquakes, Thunder, Rain, Wind, Rainbows, Dark Clouds, Gushing Springs, Waterspouts

OFFERINGS:                                     Redfish, Whitefish, Awa, Black Coconuts[7]

[1] Betty Fullard-Leo, “In the Beginning – Hawaiian Gods and Their Roles in Society”, 18 June 2012 <http://www.paulwaters.com/gods.htm>.

[2] Ibid.

[3] “Makahiki”, 18 June 2012, <http://www.kahoolawe.org/makahiki/>.

[4] Betty Fullard-Leo, “In the Beginning – Hawaiian Gods and Their Roles in Society”, 18 June 2012 <http://www.paulwaters.com/gods.htm>.

[5] Hawaiian Mythology: Part One: The Gods: III.  The God Lono, “The God Lono”, 18 June 2012 <http://www.sacred-texts.com/pac/hm/hm05.htm>.

[6] “Makahiki”, 18 June 2012, <http://www.kahoolawe.org/makahiki/>.

[7] Hawaiian Mythology: Part One: The Gods: III.  The God Lono, “The God Lono”, 18 June 2012 <http://www.sacred-texts.com/pac/hm/hm05.htm>.