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Monday, February 8, 2010

Monday Ground Up: Hawaiian Night Marchers and the Ghosts of Hawaii

In every culture throughout history there existed a certain concept of the dead. The Hawaiian concept was more specific with Polynesian ritual and beliefs pertaining to what they called "uhane". On certain occasions, these night marchers would come back for a special procession.

Uhane was not permanently attached to the body and it could exit during the night through the corners of your eyes and it would return before you woke. This spirit was likely to take long trips at night, for a short period of time and this formation of activity would result in vivid dreams and nightmares.Uhane could converse with the sleeper if they needed advice, and this conversation usually took place between Uhane and the sleepers aumakua.

The Underworld

The connection of spirits was usually a path that often happened with death and the resurrection of a person who's time wasn't exactly expired. In death, however, the ahume would leap from the body with its spirit living on, until it reached the Po-the underworld.

The Hawaiian underworld was a leaping place if the Uhane was able to attain it. If the Ihane jumped successfully, it would enter eternity, the realm of the spirits and the ancestral deities. If the spirit had a lived a honest life, it would be welcomed into the realm.

Although this "sea of eternity" was often described as a place with dark seas and a world of spirits, it was hardly envisioned as hell. It was more of a place for new teachings like hula and sports and other entertaining activities.

The under world was ruled by Milu and dead souls would enter Lua-o-Milu through a trail called Mahiki. Of course, these religious traditions and ideals were completely banned in 1820 when Christian missionaries transformed Po into Hell and Milu was consider Satan. Christians believed that Milu had disobeyed his akua and he was sent to the underworld as punishment. This belief is only shared by Christians and post contact Hawaiian writers influenced by missionaries to misrepresent their own culture.

The Ghosts

If the uhane had completed harmful acts and was ignored by their family in life, they were unsuccessful in their jump. They had to live their lives wandering the islands in their spirit form.

These ghosts haunted specific places and they remained miserable. They frequented places they had once dwelled in when they walked in life. At night, they would dine on spiders and moths, and sometimes, they would sneak food from humans when they weren't looking or they were asleep.

They came in the form or shape of a human, only their feet were not visible. Humans were unable to see them, but they knew they were there. In fact, they went to great lengths to protect themselves and their families, tying a variety of leaves from certain bananas at the doorway. They did this night, so not to tempt the ghosts from leaping out while they ate.

Although it was believed that these ghosts could not inflict harm on humans, they would still play tricks. The ghosts tripped people as they walked in the dark, knocked on walls, and threw rocks. They loved to tease tourists, often leading them down the wrong paths. These places were, once known, avoided at all costs.
Even the luminous glow of the Hawaiian waves is said to be cause by ghosts. A man, Punia, captured several ghosts in a net in the ocean and killed then. Their deaths caused the sea to glow at night, and also imparted a strong odor to the fish kala and palani.

The Night Marchers

On some nights, according to the Hawaiian Lunar Calender, there are ghostly processions taking place. These are the night marchers, or rather spirits that have returned in the form of dead chiefs, warriors, priests and priestesses, akua and aumakua.

Any person that witnessed this event was struck dead immediately. However, if the families aumakua was able to protect their living family, no harm would be done.

The procession of the night marchers was lead by torch bearers through the trees to the beating of a drum. If you heard them, you would either hide until they passed or you would lie face down in the dirt, completely naked, and the marchers would pass by in amusement.

Their stay was usually brief and they were gone before the dawn, however on some occasions, they would stay and play sports.

No one really knows why these processions occurred. Perhaps the spirits missed their earthly existence, however it doesn't explain the immediate death to onlookers.

The Hawaiian Ghosts of Today

As more and more developers flocked to the island and started disturbing sacred sites, the stories of ghostly haunts became prevalent. There are reports of a shopping center built directly on top of a sacred burial ground and a hotel built on an old Hawaiian temple. The ghostly activities became so bad that a Kahuna was called in to bless the site. After several attempts, the ghosts disappeared, for now.


The Hawaiian Hula Dance

Hula was a movement, or rather a celebration, of deities and ritually marked occasions. The dance displayed the history of the peoples and it embodied a wonderfully delightful pastime enjoyed by deities and humans. There are several stories that speak of the origins of Hula, however one is widely accepted, that being the creation of Kapo. Kapo was the first dancer and teacher of the Hula dance, so it’s not at all surprising that the true origin of Hula was traced back to Kapo.The Hawaiian Hula Dance


Picture Akua


RS Wing said...

Wow! That was a great read. A procession in the night with torches ending in a sporting event. Wild piece of history. A very interesting article.

Carol Yates Wilkerson said...

I agree with RS, this was a very interesting article. I know very little about Hawaiian beliefs and rituals, so this was a great read. Thanks!

Cruiselife & Co said...

@Richard and Carol

I'm so glad you're learning some new aspects of history. It seems that many people are unaware of the cultural and spiritual traditions of other societies. Hawaiian traditions really were quite amazing to me.

Rick (Ratty) said...

One of the best posts I've ever read, anywhere. This is my kind of stuff. My first interest in historical things was reading myths and legends. On top of that, I just got through having a conversation on a very similar topic. I could read whole libraries of things like this.

Bob Johnson said...

Very cool Ancient Digger.

Unknown said...

This is fascinating and intriguing. I like learning about culture. Thanks for the post.

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