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The holy site or wahi pana of Haleakala Crater is known to native Hawaiians as the “House of the Sun.” The sacred crater and summit are where ancient priests or na Kahuna Po‘o have received spiritual wisdom and practiced meditation for over 1,000 years. The House of the Sun figures in many stories that continue to strengthen the connection between the earth and its people for native Hawaiians. As one story goes, the demigod Maui journeyed to the crater where the sun was asleep and, using his lasso, caught the sun and made him promise to move more slowly through the sky, thus creating the long summer season.

Native Hawaiians respect and honor the sun’s energy as the source of all life and continue do so by praising its existence from various sacred locations on the rim of Haleakala, whose ancient name, Ala hea ka la, signified “the path to call the sun.” Some Hawaiians also view Haleakala as a physical manifestation of the goddess Pele. In ancient times only priests were able to walk on the summit because it belonged to the gods, who resided all around the mountain.

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