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In legends and chants Kāne and Kanaloa are portrayed as complementary powers (Beckwith 1970:62–65). For example: Kāne was called upon during the building of a canoe, Kanaloa during the sailing of it; Kāne governed the northern edge of the ecliptic, Kanaloa the southern; Kanaloa points to hidden springs, and Kāne then taps them out. In this way, they represent a divine duality of wild and taming forces like those observed (by Georges Dumézil, et al.) in Indo-European chief god-pairs like Odin–Týr and Mitra–Varuna, and like the popular yin and yang of Chinese Taoism.
Kanaloa is also considered to be the god of the Underworld and a teacher of magic. Legends state that he became the leader of the first group of spirits "spit out" by the gods. In time, he led them in a rebellion in which the spirits were defeated by the gods and as punishment were thrown in the Underworld.
However, depictions of Kanaloa as a god of evil, death, or the Underworld, in conflict with good deities like Kāne (a reading that contradicts Kanaloa and Kāne's paired invocations and shared devotees in Ancient Hawaii) are likely the result of European missionary efforts to recast the four major divinities of Hawaiʻi in the image of the Christian Trinity plus Satan. In traditional, pre-contact Hawaiʻi, it was Milu who was the god of the Underworld and death, not Kanaloa; the related Miru traditions of other Polynesian cultures support this.
The Eye of Kanaloa is an esoteric symbol associated with the god in New Age Huna teaching, consisting of a seven-pointed star surrounded by concentric circles that are regularly divided by eight lines radiating from the inner-most circle to the outer-most circle.
- Tangaroa, the Māori god of the sea.
- Tagaloa Samoan mythology
- Tangaloa Tongan mythology
- Ta'aroa Tahitian mythology
- M. Beckwith, Hawaiian Mythology (University of Hawaii Press: Honolulu, 1970).
- G. Dumezil, Mitra-Varuna (MIT Press: Cambridge, 1988).
- P. Turner & C. R. Coulter, Dictionary of Ancient Deities (Oxford University Press: New York, 2001).
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