Laka, Hawaiian spirit of fertility, romance and women’s power, is most famous as the presiding spirit of hula dancing which some legends credit her with inventing. Laka is still actively venerated and honored by hula dancers. The remains of her shrine at Ke’e Beach, Kauai are rarely without offerings. Laka is also the spirit of wild nature and the woodlands. She controls rain. Laka is considered a reasonably benevolent spirit and is one of Hawaii’s most beloved goddesses. Laka has an alter ego named Kapo who may be her sister or mother. Alternatively the two names refer to different paths of one spirit with Laka as the consistent life-affirming aspect and Kapo as the unpredictable, potentially dangerous aspect. Kapo has associations with death and negative sorcery, which Laka lacks. Some legends credit Kapo with the invention of hula. The two spirits are frequently invoked and venerated together.
Hula dancers: if you already dance, consider yourself under her protection. To establish a connection, learn hula. No need to be a professional dancer; it’s sufficient to love hula and make a sincere attempt to learn to the best of your abilities.
Like Hawaiian spirits in general, Laka has many forms. In womanly form, Laka is a beautiful, graceful dancer. She also manifests in the forms of her sacred plants.
Yellow: Laka’s color was traditionally obtained by dyeing with turmeric, known in Hawaiian as olena.
Lama tree “Hawaiian ebony” (Dios pyros sandwichensis)
‘Ilima plant (Sida fallax); ti plant; maile; lehua blossoms
Ka’ana located on the slopes of Maunaloa in western Molokai claims to be where Laka first danced the hula
• Laka’s remains are rumored to be secretly buried somewhere beneath the hill Pu’u Nana in Molokai.
• The ruins of Laka’s halau (temple and school) are at Ke’e Beach, Kauai: walk up the hill to the shrine to place offerings on her rock altar.
Molokai’s annual Ka Hula Piko festival celebrates Laka and the birth of hula each May.
Traditionally temporary structures formed from entwined branches and decorated with ferns, flowers and plants. A block of Lama wood placed on the altar and covered with yellow tapa cloth represents Laka.
Traditionally Laka was offered a daily drink of ‘awa, also known as kava; also maile vines and leis
Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses– Written by Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.