Sacred Owls in Hawaii

The informant is marked IN.

IN: There was this one myth about an owl that I kind of remember, like not exactly but I’ve heard it a couple times. So basically there was this kid, called Kapoi, who found some owl eggs, and he like, wanted to roast them to eat and stuff. And this all – by the way – kind of just relates back to how important owls are for Hawaiians. So like he’s about to cook these eggs and an owl comes down and tells him “hey, you can’t do that please give me my eggs” and the kid doesn’t really listen, but the owl asks again and the kid says “okay, come get them and they’re yours.” So the owl comes down and gets his eggs back, and he tells the kid to build a temple with an alter and everything and it ends up that on the same day, the king had set up a temple and he had already dedicated it, and basically just made up a rule on the spot that no one shall dedicate a temple on the same day as the king. So the king sends all these men to kill Kapoi, but the owls heard about this and they decide to intercept the kings men and attacked them all, just pecking and scratching and killing his men. So then like, the owls won, and like the king I guess acknowledged the God that Kapoi had dedicated the temple to, which was basically the owls, and since then owls have been seen as very divine, god-like birds and just show up a lot throughout Hawaiian sacred history and stuff. They just play a big role overall, in like, everyday life I guess and they have to be respected.

Context: I asked the informant during work if he had any Hawaiian folktales.

Background: The informant is a Hawaiian Japanese-American, who was raised hearing a lot of Hawaiian folklore around him. This is a story he heard less often but was an essential piece for understanding the importance of owls in Hawaiian legends.

Analysis: I thought that this was a really interesting piece because it gives the message that if you respect nature, nature will respect you. Treating animals kindly instead of stealing and roasting their eggs will lead to better karma and protection from those animals in the future. I also never knew that owls were prevalent in Hawaii so this surprised me.