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Circles in Hawaiian Culture

a close up of a rock

Have you ever wondered about your place in the universe? How your existence fits in with the circle of life? Did you ever consider that a Hawaiian cultural symbol might help you come to terms with your ultimate purpose in the universe? Learn more about fascinating cultural and spiritual practices by reading about circles in Hawaiian culture.

You’ll become transfixed by the spiritual meaning of the circle. You may even learn the best way to find harmony within the unending circle of life. You’ll also get acquainted with petroglyphs, or ancient markings in lava, that represent the circle. 

A Creation Story

Let’s face it. We’re all members of the human race. We’re part of life on the earth and within the bounds of the universe. Hawaiian myth utilizes the closed circle to represent a life without beginning or end that manifests within the planet and all of the universe. This circle brings sacred knowledge which demonstrates the interconnected nature of all things.

Hawaiian myth states that when humans were filled with the breath of life, they also received the gift of umeke, or “bowl”, to contain this divine breath. In other words, the bowl is a symbol of our bodies as the exterior of the bowl is a circle. 

As time went on, the circle also came to symbolize a council or group of people coming together to discuss issues that matter to the group. To maintain the breath of life within this circle of people, all individuals must all be able to voice their perspective while listening to those who disagree in order to reach consensus. This circle approach to disagreement moves humans from the place of creation into the future as one group. 

Hawaiian Petroglyphs Contain the Circle

Ancient circular petroglyphs on the Big Island
Ancient circular petroglyphs on the Big Island

There are several places to see Hawaiian petroglyphs, which date in time from AD 1200-1450. While many shapes were made including canoe sails, representations of humans, and feathered capes, the majority of carvings are circular or semicircular. So what do these circles mean? 

Some have suspected the circles represent travel. On this theory, a new circle was placed around a dot every time that person circumnavigated the island. Others believe the circles represent children born into a family, with umbilical cords of the children buried with the design. 

But whatever this ancient rock art means, it provides an important connection between the people of the past and Hawaiians of today. In other words, it too is a manifestation of the circle of life. 

Circles in Hawaiian Culture

Stop for a minute and take stock of our lives and our place within the earth. With this in mind, it’s easy to see our connection to the greater world. Studying circles in Hawaiian culture can help us pinpoint the importance of this simple truth and give us appreciation for those people who came before us. Learn more in this book.

From ancient myths to lava petroglyphs, we learn a lot when we listen to the wisdom of the past as we live our lives today. 

There are several theories about the meaning behind Hawaiian petroglyphs
There are several theories about the meaning behind Hawaiian petroglyphs