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FAMILY GUIDANCE Guardian angels are very popular in Christian communities across the US. Here in Hawaiÿi, a similar concept evolved organically, long before Western contact took place. ÿAumakua, or spirits of ancestors in the form of animals or plants that guide the living, hold a significant position in the hearts of not only Hawaiians, but also Polynesians. A popular saying, “ÿAno lani; ÿano honua” means that ÿaaumakua are both heavenly and earthly in nature. A visit by a personal ÿaumakua is said to be offering advice, help, inspiration, or acting as a guide—heeding the guidance or warnings of your ÿaumakua was (and still is) something that should be taken seriously. ÿAumakua can take the shape of sharks, sea turtles, pueo (Hawaiian short-eared owls), octopuses, eels, rats, dogs, caterpillars, and even plants and rocks. And not all sharks or pueo are the family’s ÿaumakua, but instead one particular one would represent the family’s ancestor. Those who have seen Disney’s Moana might recognize her grandmother in the form of a manta ray as an example of an ÿaumakua. Each family is in charge of taking care of their ÿaumakua through prayers and other offerings, and to behave in ways that doesn’t anger the ÿaumakua. In exchange, the ÿAaumakua acts as a guardian and provides inspiration or strength as needed. It is not common for families to speak openly about their ÿaumakua, though some may be willing. Being respectful of this special relationship will go a long way. 12


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