Creature Compendium: The Mo’o

Guardian spirits find different forms all around the world. In Hawaii, we find the mo’o, or legendary lizard. She is an important figure in the creation myths of the Hawaiian Islands. I’ve included the basic description below, but the stories linked below are worth the read.

The Mo’o / Gecko

Gecko
Gecko by Close2deathNlife

Descriptions of the mo’o vary. It is said to resemble a lizard, black skinned, and dragon like in its size, but as a shape shifter, the mo’o is is also depicted as a female goddess. They are said to be found in fish ponds and caves, and if a fish pond contains a mo’o, it is said to bring prosperity to a village. Foam in the fish pond means the mo’o is home. While most stories are benevolent, in human form the mo’o is sometimes depicted as a jealous lover, who might eat or drown her lover rather than share him.

The mo’o is said to guard places, individuals, as well as families. The household gecko resembles the mo’o and is considered good luck, and to kill one would bring bad luck.

Further Reading:

Related Creatures: dragon

Region of Origin: Hawaii

Elsewhere in the world I’ve run into folk beliefs that lizards can bring thunder and storms, and should be killed. The contrast is stark. I for one, am really happy they eat bugs. One less cockroach in my bed thanks! Do you know of any guardian spirits beyond dogs and cats?

4 thoughts on “Creature Compendium: The Mo’o

  1. This maps pretty well to the general Great East/West divide with regard to the disposition of dragons in mythology and folklore. Western mythology almost invariably treats dragons as evil. Eastern mythology is more nuanced, often (but not exclusively) treating dragons as benevolent.

    I can’t say why this is, for certain. One could point to the Biblical depiction of the Serpent in the Garden and the identification and association of the serpent with Satan. But I don’t think that really tells the whole story, because dragons are understood to be evil even in Western mythological traditions that are unconnected with Judeo-Christian mythology.

    1. It might be simply randomness at work then? Take a creature like the dog and there will be both good and evil representations of it in different locations.

  2. I had never thought of cats and dogs as guardians in the same way as geckos. Ironically, in the same vein as Stephen and your discussion the first mention of dog spirits when googling is an evil spirit.

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