Today there is evidence aplenty of our being separate from the larger context. We use natural resources as if inexhaustible, connection to nature means cutting the grass, and family members are those thorns we gripe about. Many people have no clue about what the first names of their great grandparents were, and ancestors have no meaning in our lives, since they are all dead anyway. Perhaps there is wisdom to be gleaned from the ancient cultures of the world that can begin to knit us back into a cohesive web, where spiritual and mundane, living and spirit, (wo)man and nature are in constant relationship.
The Hawaiian language is made up mostly of vowels, which tourists usually struggle with. However, each vowel is a word in itself, forming a spiritual base for the language and structuring thinking to “see God in everything”. A is feminine, awakening, enlightenment, nurturing. O is masculine, whole, source, big picture. I is connection to Spirit, creativity, passion. E is gentle, spreading out, announcing. U is transformation, magic, magnificence. *
To extract the deep, spiritual meaning for the Hawaiian word for ancestors, Aumakua, each vowel and each syllable is looked at. Kua means backbone, support. Akua means divine, God, spirit. Makua means parent, guardian. Au means era, passing of time, tide current. Taken together, it means the loving, guardian ancestors providing backbone and support from the spiritual realm over time. When the vowels alone are translated, a deeper spiritual meaning emerges: A u a u a…A awaken and U transform become awaken to transform and transform to awaken. Try looking at the vowels in your name to get your own personal meaning.
In other cultures names have meaning, such as a flower or a particular quality as it related to the person. Especially if named after another person, maybe a famous warrior or skilled writer, the person then continued the lineage of that quality in his life. All the names in a genealogy then told a story of the collection of individual qualities that made up their lineage. In English our names don’t usually have a meaning, other than being named for a favorite aunt or friend, which leaves us with less richness of legacy and connection to the whole.
*The translations of the Hawaiian vowels and words were provided by kahuna Leon Kalili, who passed away on September 14, 2009.