Haumea, by Susan Tower
Perhaps the most well-known Goddess of the island of Hawaii is Pele, though in fact it is Haumea who is the matron Goddess of that island. In Hawaiian mythology, Haumea is the mother of Pele and many other children, including Hi’laka, the Goddess born from her mouth, and Namaka, the water spirit born from Her body.
According to Hawaiiian mythology, Haumea was the Goddess who created the islands of Hawaii. The 8 islands are all volcanoes that run along a fault line, some of which still erupt. The fire within the volcano is Haumea, and in her Fire Goddess form she is called Pele.
Haumea is also called by a number of different names, including Lailai and Papa, showing that she can take on many different guises, morphing from old woman to young girl and becoming her own daughter or granddaughter. Legend says that as Haumea, she is great and fearless, and has 8 different forms, ranging from a shark to a Goddess or spirit, and a human being. Haumea gave birth to children from her brain admist primordial slime, and they became chiefs, islands or human babies. In Hawaiian religious belief, everything is totally interconnected and everything has spirit, so Haumea was thought of as ancestral Mother, divine creatrix and the spirit of Mother Nature that flows through everything and everyone.
The Hawaiian people recorded their history in chants, which told of how the primordial slime was created, from which came ‘time’ and the evolution of all life – concepts validated by later scientific research. They also had many myths and legends. One particular island myth tells how Haumea’s priestesses were priviledged enough to be given a supply of wild food when famine befell the rest of the land. The implication here is that if we are sufficiently knowledgeable about the food that nature supplies, then we will be able to eat when mass-produced agriculture fails.
In another myth a net thrown over her kills Haumea, but this same net is also used during a Makahiki festival to shake food over the land, encouraging good crops. The human who throws the net is called Kaulu, whose name means ‘growth in plants’. However, when Kaulu withdraws crops from the land, Haumea is forced to produce wild food to feed the people. This myth seems to speak about how the human cultivation of the land, although good for feeding the people, can sometimes fail, and when it does, then humankind once again becomes reliant on what Mother Nature can produce. Many other myths talk about Haumea’s capacity to give food or provisions. In one she possessed a magic stick called Makalei that could attract seafood and in another she is associated with a never failing tree of food.
Volcano on Hawaii
Haumea was above all a Goddess of Fire – and interestingly, of childbirth as well. Haumea continually grew old and then was reborn, a process that reflects how the volcanic islands of the Pacific are born, sink into the sea and then new ones rise up again. As the volcanoes gave birth so easily, so Haumea could make this happen for humans. So She was often invoked for a painless childbirth, and chants, incantations and herbal medicine were thought to belong to Her realm.
One or two myths call Her the Goddess of underground heat, and others of Her family carry the same attributes. Pele was the Goddess who lived in volcanoes and sent floods of lava to burn everything. She was said to influence those whose lives were filled with burning anger against their fellow men. Pele was in constant combat with one of her sisters, the ocean. Another sister, Hi’laka was a cherished favourite and born in the shape of an egg.
Haumea herself had several rebirths, reappearing as her own daughter and then granddaughter, each time marrying her son-in-law and grandson-in-law. Haumea seems to represent the element of fire that has the ability to destroy but then re-generate, manifested as the spirit of life and rebirth. To Hawaiians, Earth was formed out of fire, and they said that the Islands had risen up as the body of Spirit. That Spirit was Haumea, and they saw the land as the material manifestation of Her fiery spirit.
Haumea has returned into prominence in our lifetime, from an unexpected source. In 2004 a dwarf planet (one of only 5 so recognised by astronomers) was first sighted, using a large telescope on Hawaii. This set the stage for naming the planet after a Hawaiian Goddess, Haumea. Later it was discovered that the Dwarf Planet had 8 moons or moon-like rocks encircling her, which of course is eerily cognisant with the story of Haumea’s 8 children.
Haumea is the strangest object found to date in the solar system, and very different to the rest of the objects in the Kuiper Belt, where it was found. It is ellipsoid in shape (like a cigar), and is the only non-spherical planet or dwarf planet. It spins over and over at high speed, and completes a full orbit in just under 4 hours. It has been suggested that it was formed originally from two separate planets having undergone a grazing and merging collision. Its two main moons were later named Hi’iaka and Namaka, after Haumea’s two children in the Hawaiian myth.
In astrology, Haumea has come to represent the re-emergence of the belief in the Creatrix and growth in the whole alternative spirituality and Goddess movement. Haumea as a dwarf planet was discovered by two separate teams of astronomers, neither of whom could claim it for themselves. One of the men heading the team based in Hawaii was delayed from announcing the find because he was on paternity leave as his wife had given birth; remember that Haumea was a Goddess of childbirth!
The re-emergence of Haumea into public consciousness shows that this Goddess has returned with all her fire and creative spirit for a new age.
Information for this article taken from ‘Starry Messengers’ by Alison Chester- Lambert. Thanks to Debbie Keil-Leavitt for other information and ideas. www.debbiekeilastrologer.com