Rainbows in Hawaiian & other traditions

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What does the rainbow symbolize to Hawaiian culture? 


"The Rainbow is very significant in Hawaiian culture. Hawaii is very rainy, and rainbows can often be seen. This has led to it being deeply ingrained in their culture and religion. The rainbow is the celestial path that the Hawaiian Gods use to come down to earth from their home, in the Cloud Islands. The Rainbow Goddess, Anuenue, who is sister to the primal gods Kane and Kanaloa, acts as a messenger of the Gods. Lono, the God of Fertility and Music, descended on a rainbow to marry Laka, the Hawaiian Goddess of Music and Dance. "Anuenne" is Hawaiian for Rainbow The rainbow is also perceived as the pathway that the souls of the dead take to travel to the heavenly realms. The souls have walk on the rainbow path to pass through Kuaihelani, a mysterious floating island, which translates to "supporting the heavens or spiritual" to reach the sacred land of Nu'umealani, the bright, elevated and fragrant land of "the heavenly one". The rainbow is thus a symbol of transformation, and those who can freely travel between the upper world and the lower reaches live like gods among humans, enjoying earthly prosperity and abundance. Featured as a pathway between dimensions in Hawaiian mythology as it does in various cultures round the world, it also acts as a footstool for Malanaikuaheahea, the wife of the legendary transpacific voyager and astronomer whose name, Maliki'i is also the Hawaiian term for the Pleiades star cluster from which the first Hawaiians came to earth."


Feel free to share meanings related to the rainbow in your or other traditions:

Edited by 3bob
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lots more info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rainbows_in_culture


The rainbow has a place in legend owing to its beauty and the historical difficulty in explaining the phenomenon.


In Greco-Roman mythology, the rainbow was considered to be a path made by a messenger (Iris) between Earth and Heaven.


In Chinese mythology, the rainbow was a slit in the sky sealed by goddess Nüwa using stones of five different colours.


In Hindu religion, the rainbow is called Indradhanush, meaning "the bow (Sanskrit and Hindi: dhanush is bow) of Indra, the god of lightning, thunder and rain". Another Indian mythology says the rainbow is the bow of Rama, the incarnation of Vishnu. It is called Rangdhonu in Bengali, dhonu (dhanush) meaning bow. Likewise, in mythology of Arabian Peninsula, the rainbow, called Qaus Quzaħ in Arabic, is the war bow of the god Quzaħ.


In Armenian mythology the rainbow is a belt of Tir, a Sun god.


In Norse Mythology, a rainbow called the Bifröst Bridge connects the realms of Ásgard and Midgard, homes of the gods and humans, respectively.


The Irish leprechaun's secret hiding place for his pot of gold is usually said to be at the end of the rainbow. This place is impossible to reach, because the rainbow is an optical effect which depends on the location of the viewer. When walking towards the end of a rainbow, it will appear to "move" further away (two people who simultaneously observe a rainbow at different locations will disagree about where a rainbow is). Also, a rainbow is in fact a full circle, we usually only see the half arc of it due to our positioning in respect to it; if you were to be positioned higher up (such as on a tall building or an airplane) then you could view it's actual full circle. So in reality there is no end to a rainbow, just as there is no end to a circle. Therefore, that 'end of the rainbow' is in other words an impossible/non-existent place.


Another ancient portrayal of the rainbow is given in the Epic of Gilgamesh: the rainbow is the "jewelled necklace of the Great Mother Ishtar" that she lifts into the sky as a promise that she "will never forget these days of the great flood" that destroyed her children. (The Epic of Gilgamesh, Tablet Eleven)

Then Ishtar arrived. She lifted up the necklace of great jewels that her father, Anu, had created to please her and said, "Heavenly gods, as surely as this jewelled necklace hangs upon my neck, I will never forget these days of the great flood. Let all of the gods except Enlil come to the offering. Enlil may not come, for without reason he brought forth the flood that destroyed my people."


According to Genesis, after Noah's flood God put the rainbow in the sky as the sign of His promise that He would never again destroy the earth with flood (Genesis 9:13–17):[1]

I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth. And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud: And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh. And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, This is the token of the covenant, which I have established between me and all flesh that is upon the earth..."

(and more)

Edited by 3bob
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Feel free to share meanings related to the rainbow in your or other traditions:


Here, mostly 'he' is  a snake - the Rainbow Serpent. 




Australia, having originally around 600 different cultural groups there are many similar and different traditions about the rainbow and the Rainbow Serpent. 


Here is a sample from Wiki


The Rainbow Serpent (or Serpents if there are more than one) is known as Borlung by the Miali,[2] Dhakkan (or Takkan) by the Kuli,[3] Kajura by the Ingarda,[3] Gooriallaby the Lardil people,[7] Kunmanggur by the Murinbata,[2] Ngalyod by the Gunwinggu,[2] Numereji by the Kakadu,[3] Taipan by the Wikmunkan,[2] Tulloun by the Mitakoodi,[3] Wagyl by the Noongar,[8] Wanamangura by the Talainji,[3] and Witij by the Yolngu.[1] Other names include Bolung,[4] Galeru,[2] Julunggul,[9] Kanmare,[3] Langal,[2] Myndie,[10] Muit,[2] Ungur,[2]Wollunqua,[2] Wonambi,[2] Wonungar,[2] Worombi,[2] Yero,[2] Yingarna,[11] and Yurlunggur.[2]


Locally,  in Bundjalung lingo - Yumbar. 


Two of my fav stories are one of the creation myth stories about the Rainbow Serpent ( here there is a 'pairing' or 'bridging' with a celestial snake, via water ) and another that has more to do with the appearance of the rainbow in the sky as a 'nature event' .


Before the Dreamtime the earth was a flat disc of sand with no features, on it lay Ungud the Earth Serpent and  overhead, the stars. That's it, nothing else. So Ungud would lie there looking up to the stars and at Wallenganda, the black snake, who was (the black space running through) the Milky Way. Her body was a river running across the the sky and either side of it where lots of stars, the camp fires of her children, camped along the banks of the river up in the sky.


Well, Wallneganda saw Ungud staring at her; "What are you looking at ? " 


"I am looking up at you", Ungud told her. "You are up in the sky and look beautiful, and you have all those beautiful children around you, But I am down here and alone. "


So Wallenganda felt sorry for Ungud so she spat some of her water down onto the earth and Ungud gathered it up together and dove down through the earth and took it underground and made it deep - at Uluru. Where he dove down through the earth, he made a big sandhill  and that turned into Uluru (the spiritual heart of Australia ... "







Ungud gathered the water together Underground and curled up in it and went to sleep. And then he had a dream. In his dream he multiplied himself  into many Rainbow Serpents and they went out in all the different directions, and where they went the water followed along behind them. It made underground streams and where the serpents came out the water followed behind and made springs. Where the serpents crawled along the ground, their bodies formed the valleys and mountains and the rivers flowed behind them. When they dove down, back through the earth they made soaks. All the way they went to the edge of the earth and the water followed behind them and came out and made the oceans, all around. ......  * ......   One day, that big snake under the ground, he is going to wake up and the dream will end .... and all this will end too - finished. 


( *  there are further complications with Wanjina - rain spirits and the original forms of life and people and animals being created as cave paintings that hold the patterns and 'broadcast' them forth from increase sites and other places to make the animals plants and people - life ) 

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Basically the rainbow is a sign that a storm has gone.  It can also be seen as a link between sites and special places . Various stories come together to make this little 'contemporary piece'.


The Lightning Brothers







They come out of earth ... in secret places ... only 'special people' know about.






They travel through desert country






and stalk over the mountains … high up , above the clouds.







Now they are here, walking around,  stepping down from the high clouds onto hill top and high points.

Great strides, wide apart, striking raggedly down they walk, two of them together but some distance apart.

Then another after them, then a third.

Lightning brother is here ! 






More arrive. Why so much ? Is this a meeting place, is there some type of ceremony going on ?






Namarrkon ! 


Then they move on and leave behind their sign







And I am alive and charged   !  Now I have the lightening !

-  Bugglebear Namarrkon !  

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