The Moon Cycle in Hawaiian Culture

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The Moon Cycle in Hawaiian Culture

The moon cycle has always been a source of fascination and inspiration for cultures around the world. In Hawaiian culture, the moon holds a special place in the mythology, traditions and spirituality of the islands. The Hawaiian word for moon is ‘mahina’, and the lunar phases are deeply intertwined with the natural rhythm of life and the cycles of nature in Hawaii.

Understanding the Lunar Phases

In Hawaiian culture, the lunar cycle is traditionally divided into four phases – the New Moon (or Hilo), First Quarter (or Kuhikuhi), Full Moon (or Po’e) and Last Quarter (or Huna). Each phase has its own significance and symbolism, and is closely linked to the agricultural, fishing and hunting practices that have sustained Hawaiian communities for thousands of years.

New Moon (Hilo)

The New Moon signifies a time of new beginnings, growth and renewal. In traditional Hawaiian culture, this phase was associated with planting, and was a time of great importance for farmers and cultivators. It was believed that seeds planted during the New Moon would grow more quickly and strongly than those planted at other times of the lunar cycle.

First Quarter (Kuhikuhi)

The First Quarter represents a time of action, strength and determination. This phase was often associated with hunting and fishing, and it was believed that animals caught during this phase would be especially abundant and nutritious. The First Quarter was also seen as a time of planning and decision-making, and was associated with strategic thinking and resourcefulness.

Full Moon (Po’e)

The Full Moon is perhaps the most widely recognized and celebrated of all lunar phases. In Hawaiian culture, the Full Moon was seen as a time of great spiritual power, balance and harmony. It was a time for paying respect to the gods, ancestors and elements that governed the natural world. Many traditional Hawaiian ceremonies, dances and rituals were associated with the Full Moon, and it was a time of great celebration and abundance.

Last Quarter (Huna)

The Last Quarter signifies a time of reflection, evaluation and release. This phase is associated with completion and closure, and was often seen as a time for letting go of old habits, beliefs and patterns that no longer serve us. It was also associated with forgiveness and healing, and was seen as a time for honoring the past while preparing for the future.

The Moon Cycle Today

Although many of the traditional practices and beliefs associated with the moon cycle have faded over time, the lunar phases still hold great significance for many Hawaiians today. From the traditional ceremonies associated with the Full Moon to the modern practices of gardening, fishing and hunting that still follow the lunar calendar, the moon cycle remains an important part of Hawaiian culture and tradition.

The Moon Cycle in Hawaiian Culture: Frequently Asked Questions

Hawaiian culture is steeped in traditions and customs that date back centuries, many of which are still practiced today. One such tradition is following the moon cycle or month, which plays a significant role in the Hawaiian culture. In this blog post, we’ll address some frequently asked questions about the moon cycle in Hawaiian culture and how it’s still relevant today.

What is the Moon Cycle?

The moon cycle refers to the phases of the moon as it orbits around the Earth. In Hawaii, the moon cycle is divided into approximately 29.5 days, which is the time it takes for the moon to orbit the Earth. Each of the moon’s phases has a specific name in Hawaiian, and each is associated with different activities, rituals, and beliefs.

What are the names of the Moon’s Phases in Hawaiian?

There are eight moon phases in the Hawaiian culture, and each phase is known by a specific name, which are as follows:

1. Hilo (New Moon)

The Hilo phase marks the beginning of the moon cycle, and it signals a time for new beginnings, planting, and starting new projects. The Hilo phase is ideal for setting new intentions for the coming month.

2. Hoku (Waxing Crescent)

The Hoku phase is a time of growth and expansion. It’s the ideal time for focusing on personal growth, learning new skills, and developing relationships.

3. Ikiiki (First Quarter)

In the Ikiiki phase, the moon is half-full, and it’s a time for taking action and making progress. It’s the perfect time for moving forward with plans or projects.

4. Akua (Waxing Gibbous)

The Akua phase is all about abundance and prosperity. It’s a time for harvesting, sharing, and celebrating the fruits of your labor.

5. Lono (Full Moon)

The Lono phase is considered the most powerful and significant phase of the moon cycle. It’s a time for making important decisions, resolving conflicts, and releasing negative energy.

6. Hoku (Waning Gibbous)

The Hoku phase after the full moon is a time of introspection and reflection. It’s time to think about what you’ve learned and how you can apply it to your life.

7. Kalo (Last Quarter)

The Kalo phase is a time for letting go of what no longer serves you. It’s time for releasing negative energy, toxic relationships, and unhealthy habits.

8. Po (Waning Crescent)

The Po phase marks the end of the moon cycle, and it’s a time for rest, reflection, and recuperation. It’s the ideal time for self-care, relaxation, and spiritual practices.

What are Some Traditions Associated with the Moon Cycle in Hawaiian Culture?

The moon cycle is an essential part of Hawaiian culture, and it’s associated with many traditions and customs that are still practiced today. Some of the most common traditions associated with the moon cycle include:

1. Planting and Harvesting Kalo

Kalo, also known as taro, is a staple food in Hawaiian culture, and it’s traditionally planted and harvested during the Hilo and Akua phases. During the Hilo phase, the kalo is planted, and during the Akua phase, it’s harvested and shared with the community.

2. Makahiki Festival

The Makahiki Festival is a harvest festival that is traditionally held during the Lono phase of the moon cycle. It’s a time for celebrating the harvest and giving thanks to the gods for their blessings.

3. Hula and Chanting

Hula and chanting are an integral part of Hawaiian culture, and they’re often performed during the Lono phase of the moon cycle. Hula is a traditional dance that tells stories of Hawaiian legends, while chanting is a form of prayer and meditation.

Is the Moon Cycle Still Relevant Today?

Despite the passage of time and changes in society, the moon cycle is still significant in Hawaiian culture today. Many people in Hawaii still follow the moon cycle and celebrate its phases with traditional rituals and activities. It’s seen as a way to connect with the land, the gods, and the community.

The Moon Cycle in Hawaiian Culture

For centuries, people all over the world have used the lunar cycle for various agricultural, religious, and cultural purposes. In Hawaiian culture, the moon plays an essential role in traditions, beliefs, and practices. The Hawaiian belief system is centered around the idea of the interconnectedness of various elements of life.

The moon, as one of the celestial bodies, holds significance in Hawaiian beliefs, and its cycle is important to them. Let’s explore more about the moon cycle in Hawaiian culture, its significance, and its practices.

The Importance of the Moon in Hawaiian Culture

In ancient Hawaiian culture, the moon was thought to represent a god embodied in the goddess Hina. According to the Hawaiians, Hina was the mother of all hala trees, a tree species considered as sacred. They believed Hina was responsible for ensuring the tree’s fertility, and as such, her connection to the moon was symbolic of her life-giving abilities.

The moon, in Hawaiian culture, also played a crucial role in the timing of agriculture activities. Hawaiians considered the lunar cycle as an essential tool for decision-making in agriculture practices, such as planting and harvesting. The moon’s phases were believed to influence the growth and development of crops, and thus, they followed a lunar calendar, known as the Hawaiian Moon Calendar.

Moreover, the moon played a significant role in the traditional Hawaiian kapu system. Kapu, in Hawaiian culture, refers to a set of stringent laws that governed the society. The lunar cycle was used as a measure to regulate some kapu, such as fishing and farming activities.

The Lunar Calendar

In Hawaiian culture, the lunar calendar is known as the Hawaiian Moon Calendar, which follows the lunar cycle instead of the solar cycle. The Hawaiian Moon Calendar comprises 12 lunar months, approximately 29.5 days each, which cover the full lunar cycle. Each lunar month begins with the new moon, and every full moon marks the middle of the month.

The Hawaiian lunar calendar consisted of four primary phases, including:

1. Hilo

The Hilo phase marks the new moon and signifies a time for new beginnings, renewal, and initiation of new projects. In this phase, Hawaiians performed various rituals, including purification, healing, and protection ceremonies. They would also refrain from fishing and harvesting activities.

2. Akua

The Akua phase follows the Hilo phase and is characterized by a rising crescent moon. Traditionally, this phase was a time for spiritual elevation, with Hawaiians performing different rituals for spiritual balance and growth.

3. La‘a

The La‘a phase represents the full moon and the peak of the lunar cycle. It is considered the most auspicious and significant phase of the Hawaiian Moon Calendar. Hawaiians believed that the full moon had a potent force of energy that could heal both physical and spiritual illnesses. In this phase, they performed various ceremonies, including the Makahiki festival, a celebration of the new year.

4. Kane

The Kane phase marks the waning crescent moon and the end of the lunar cycle. Hawaiians used this phase to practice divination and foraged food for the upcoming month.

The Moon in Hawaiian Folklore

The moon played a central role in ancient Hawaiian folklore, with many stories surrounding its creation, powers, and symbolism. Here are some of the most popular Hawaiian moon myths and stories:

1. Hina and the Stolen Moon

According to the Hawaiian legend, the goddess Hina lived with her daughter, the moon. One day, the demi-god Maui came and stole the moon. Hina, in desperation, gathered a group of people to travel to the underworld to retrieve the moon from Maui. After a fierce battle, Hina and her team retrieved the moon and returned it to the sky.

2. The Legend of Kāne and Kanaloa

In this legend, Kāne, the god of the sky and life, gave Kanaloa, the god of the ocean, a piece of sky to create the moon. Kanaloa, however, grew greedy and decided to keep the piece for himself, creating a small moon. In retaliation, Kāne created a larger moon, and the two gods battled over it. Kāne eventually won, and the larger moon became the one we see in the sky today.

3. The Moon Princess, Kealoha

This tale tells of a beautiful princess, Kealoha, who fell in love with the moon. One night, Kealoha left her home and followed the moon into the sea. She continued down to the underworld, where she lived with the moon and became immortal.


The moon cycle, its symbolism, and its practices played a vital role in ancient Hawaiian culture, just like in many other ancient societies. It is awe-inspiring to note that the Hawaiians’ beliefs and practices surrounding the moon are still relevant today, with many Hawaiians still following the lunar calendar and performing traditional customs. These stories, myths, and practices offer a glimpse into a culture that truly believes in the interconnectedness of all things.

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The Moon Cycle in Hawaiian Culture