The name for the endemic Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle is Honu and they are one of my most beloved creatures in Hawaii. I frequently include Honu beads in my rosaries and prayer beads.
I ❤️ Honu! I include some of the following notes on the symbolism of turtle along with that of the Honu of Hawaii in the custom rosary story that accompanies every order.
When it comes to animal symbolism, turtle is a great example of persistence, determination, endurance and more. By her very design, turtle is a survivor. She has the ability to protect herself against predators. This is a great lesson for us. Turtle is a great guide to call upon when we need to shield ourselves or others.
Hawaiian Honu Symbolism
To Hawaiians they are a symbol of good luck, endurance and long life. Turtles represent the navigator and are a link between people, the land and the sea.
There are Hawaiian lineages that have Honu as their ‘aumakua or spirit guardian / family protector.
Hawaiian mo’olelo (stories) are filled with legends of the Honu including Kauila, a large Honu who transform into a woman in order to watch over the children playing at Punalu’u Beach on the Big Island. Other stories tell how the first people to arrive in Hawaii were guided to the islands by the Honu.
I’m blessed to be able to swim with Honu when I’m home in Hawaii and never tire seeing them swim to the surface for a gulp of air before diving down again. The pic above is of me snorkeling by with one. They are a frequent site in the water, on the beach or from the canoe. Some even show up for my beach wedding ceremonies like in this photo.
I greet Honu as one would a friend or neighbor, although from a distance as they remain an endangered species. Even though the population of green sea turtles is slowly increasing, they remain threatened so we treat them with great respect.
One could say that honu are silent creatures but if you listen close, you can hear a quiet little “Pahhhh” when they open their mouths above the surface of the water.
They are quiet but determined, serene and able to live in the sea and the ‘aina (land).
This is all to say, they are an excellent symbolic guide for difficult times as well as peaceful ones and a meaningful talisman for prayer beads.