The Native Hawaiian
The appearance of the setting moon in the western horizon evening sky marks this first night of the month. This new moon appears as a 'slender' or 'twisted' sliver(hilo). On this night, fish 'hide' in the reef areas, and deep sea fishing is good. Foods maturing underground will 'hide'. Some feel they will be small like the moon they are maturing under.
Hoaka literally translated, means crescent. It also means 'spirit or ghost'. On this second night of the month the `uhane(soul of a spirit) cast shadows and frighten fish away. Ku Kahi, Ku Lua
Ku Kolu, Ku Pau
(Third to sixth night)
These are the first, second, third and fourth nights of Ku. The Kapu period of Ku ends with the 'First Ku'. Many farmers believe this to be a good time to plant 'uala(sweet potato) and kalo(taro), as they will grow 'upright' or 'erect'(ku) in the lepo(soil). This is a good fishing period but ocean currents will soon change.
'Ole Ku Kahi, 'Ole Ku Lua
'Ole Ku Kolu, 'Ole Pau
(Seventh to tenth nights)
This is an unproductive time, for `ole means 'nothing', 'without', 'unproductive'. The tides are dangerous and high. The sea is rough and fishing is poor. Some recommend that planting be minimal until `ole pau which ends this unproductive period.
It is on this night that the sharp point of the moon's horns are hidden as its name huna implies. Farmers favor root plants which will flourish, hidden under dense foliage like the ipu(bottle gourd) that hides under its leaves. This is also a good time for fishing, for fish can be found hiding in their holes.
This is a night for flowering plants, whose shape is desired to be as round and perfect as this moon, especially the ipu, maia(banana) and kalo. Fruits, fish and limu(seaweed) were kapu(forbidden) for this night was sacred to Kane, the life-giver.
This is the first night that the circular form of the moon shows. Believed to be the first of the four Hawaiian full moons, this night's moon will appear egg-shaped. Besides meaning egg, hua means: 'fruit' and 'seed' and many believed it to be a bountiful on the `aina and kai(land and ocean). Ipu flourished on the `aina and fish were plentiful at sea. This night was sacred to Lono. Akua
This is the second of four full moons and on this night, the moon is now distinctly round. All things reproduce abundantly (ho'oakua). Fishing is good on this kapu night, when the akua(gods) are about, and offerings are made to akua to increase food (mea 'ai) and fish (i'a). Hoku
Hawaiians believed this nights moon was the fullest moon of the month. It sometimes set before daylight and was called 'Hoku Palemo' or 'sinking star'. If this moon could be seen above the horizon when daylight came it was called 'Hoku Ili' or 'stranded star'. 'Hoku Kua' means 'lined up close together', hence root plants and bananas will be prolific under this moon.
Mahealani is the second night in which the moon does not set until after sunsrise. It is the last of the four full moons and is also considered the 'calendar' full moon. Mahea means 'hazy, as moonlight' and the plants are prolific and large on this night. This time is good for all kinds of work. Currents run strong at this time but fishing is good.
On this night the moon's rising is delayed until after darkness sets in. Kulu means 'to flow, as tears'. The banana's sheath drops off on this day, not unlike falling tears, exposing its new bunch. It is a good time for potatoes and melons. This is the time for offering the seasons first fruits to akua. Currents are strong, but it is a good time for fishing. La'au Ku Kahi, La'au Ku Lua
(Eighteenth to twentieth nights)
This is the first, second and last la'au(tree or plant) nights. On La'au Ku Kahi, the moon has waned so much that the sharp points of its horns can once more be seen. Uala, melons and ipu will run to woody (la'au) vines. Ulu(breadfruit) planted on these days will be hard and woody (la'au). For medicines (la'au lapa'au), this is a time favored for gathering herbs and for their preperations by medicinal healers (kahuna lapa'au). It is a good time for planting mai'a and other trees necessary to support them. It is a favorable time for planting and fishing.
'Ole Ku Kahi, 'Ole Ku Lua
(Twenty-first to twenty-third nights)
First, second and last `Ole nights. This is a time that is not recommended for planting or fishing. It is windy and tides will run high. Farmers use this time for weeding. `Ole pau and Kaloa kukahi are the kapu periods of the akua Kanaloa and Kaloa and offering are made with pule(prayer). Kaloa Ku Kahi, Kaloa Ku Lua
(Twenty-fourth to twenty-sixth nights)
The three nights of Kaloa are good nights for fishing. Makaloa and `ole shellfish are plentiful. It is a good time to plant plants with long stems like the mai`a, ko(sugar cane), wauke(paper mulberry) and `ohe(bamboo) for they will grow long (ka loa). Uala and `uhi(yam) will run to long vines (ka loa). Hala(pandanus) will develop long leaves. The first night of Kaloa is sacred to Kanaloa and mild kapu are enforced.
This is the night that the moon rises at dawn. This and the following night of Lono are sacred to the akua Kane. It is a period devoted to prayer for health and food to the akua Kane and Lono. The Kane kapu is a strict kapu.
On this night, the moon is only just rising as the dawn breaks. Prayers for rain are common on this day. Farmers favor melons and ipu for they are kinolau, or the embodiment of Lono. Mauli
When the moon delays its rising until daylight has come, it is called Mauli. Uli means dark and implies rich, dark-green vegetation. Tides are low on this night and fishing is good. Considered a good day for marriages. Muku
On this night, the moon rises so late that it can no longer be seen in the light of day. The moon is cut off, or nalowale (vanished). Mai'a will bear bunches one muku long (from the tip of fingers of one hand to opposite elbow). Kumu la'au(trees) and ko will prosper but it is not recommended for uala. Fishing is good on this night.
Hawaiian Lunar Phases
The Hawaiians were spectacular navigators, perhaps among the best in the world. Not only did they have a deep understanding of the ocean and current, but also of the stars and the movement of the moon. That being the case, it should come as no surprise that the moon plays a very important role in the lives of the Hawaiians. Each lunar phase had a specific name in Hawaiian, and were associated with kapus as well as times for planting, fishing and gathering.
Below we present all the lunar phases along with the Hawaiian names for each phase and a brief description of what that moon meant to the Hawaiians.
The Hawaiian word Hilo has three meanings. First, Hilo was a famous Hawaiian navigator. Second, the word Hilo can mean twisted or braided. The third meaning for Hilo is the first, or new moon, and it was derived from the other two meanings. As the slender new moon sets in the western sky it often has a twested appearance thus having the name Hilo. Also, because this is the first moon it acts as a navigator for the moons to follow.
Traditionally it was felt that this was a good moon for deep sea fishing but bad for reef fishing and gathering of any below ground roots and vegetables.
As with all words in Hawaiian, the word Hoaka has many meanings. The most literal meaning is crescent and this is indeed the first real crescent moon. Other meanings have to do with spirits and ghosts and it was often felt that the spirit of this moon, being the first moon bright enough to cast a shadow, would frighten fish away thus this was not a good night for fishing.
The 3rd through 6th moon phases correspond with the first four nights of Ku. The end of the first moon, Kūkahi ends the kapu (forbidden) period of Ku and marks a period where typically taro was planted (Kū means 'erect', thus the meaning here is for plants to grow strong and erect). This series of four days also indicates good fishing.
'Ole Kū Kahi
'Ole Kū Lua
'Ole Kū Kolu
'Ole Kū Pau
The 7th through 10th moon phase names all start with 'Ole which translates into nothing or unproductive. These days were named because fishing is poor due to high tides and rough ocean. Little planting was done until the final day where the ending pau, which means done or finished marked the end of the rough weather.
Huna means small, or hidden as well as thorned, or horned. Putting the two meanings together and we would have hidden horns which describes the shape of this moon. This is a good time for plants that normally hide, such as root vegetables and gourds. This is also a good time for fishing as the fish tend to hide in their holes.
The 12th phase marks a sacred night to the God Kāne so fish and seaweed as well as fruits were forbidden to be eaten. However, this night was also good for planting vegetables for which you wanted them to resemble the roundness of the moon.
Hua means egg, fruit and seed, among other things. The meaning egg refered to the near full shape of the moon. This was a sacred night to Lono and it was good luck for planting and fishing. The Hawaiians considered there to be four full moons and Hua marked the first of the full moons.
Akua means God, Goddess as well as corpse, devil and idol. This is the second full Hawaiian moon and is near the full round shape. This was a good night for fishing. Offerings were often made on this evening to the Gods where walking about.
The third day of the four Hawaiian full moons was believed to be the fullest moon and was good for anything that was planted in rows.
This 16th lunar phase was the last night of the four Hawaiian full moon and was good for all types of work, planting and fishing. As you can see, the Hawaiians took full advantage of the four full moons.
The first moon following the four full moons was considered a time to give gifts of the first harvests to the Gods and Goddesses. Fishing was also considered good during this time.
Lā'au Kū Kahi
Lā'au Kuū Lua
The Hawaiian word Lā'au means just about any type of vegetation, trees, etc. Thus these three nights were associated with trees and plants. Planting of certain types of fruit were discouraged during this period because they would be woody instead of tender, though other types of plantings could occur. This period was also an important time for the healers to go out and locate herbs for medicines.
'Ole Kū Kahi
'Ole Kū Lua
Again we enter a series of three unproductive ('Ole) nights. During this time people avoided planting and fishing, though farmers would weed and otherwise tidy up. The final day belonged to the Gods Kaloa and Kanaloa and people offered prayers to these Gods on this day.
Kāloa Kū Kahi
Kāloa Kū Lua
The 24th through 26th lunar phase mark the three nights of Kāloa. The first night of Kāloa continues the worship of Kanaloa from the previous 'Ole Pau night. Planting of long stemed plants as well as vines are encouraged and fishing is good through these three days, especially shellfish.
The 27th lunar moon marks a two day period of worship to the Gods Kāne and Lono. This was a very strictly enforced kapu and most of this period was devoted to prayer to the Gods.
The 28th lunar moon continues from the previous night of worship to Kāne and Lono, with emphasis switching to the God Lono and prayers for rain.
This moon usually rises with daylight. Fishing was encouraged due to lower tides and marriages were often performed on this day.
This final lunar phase finds the moon rising completely in the earths shadow. Fishing is considererd good.