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Ghosts, a Hawaiian Perspective

Posted by on June 9, 2011

Hawaiian ghosts

Hawaiian ghosts

Ghosts or spirits of the dead are known in almost every culture throughout history.  The Hawaiian culture developed strangely familiar concepts while very separated both physically and culturally from other cultures with these traditions.  The phenomenon of night marchers is still known today and large hotels have been known to hire “Kahuna” to come and exercise the ghosts who seem disturbed by the modern temples to tourism that have been built over the ancient sacred sites.  Much like many other cultures the polynesian people who inhabited the island had a concept of soul and ideas on how it traveled.  They had a very clear idea of the after life and how a spirit who was stuck on this plane could move on.  They had actions they attributed to ghosts and ways to guard against them.

The Hawaiian word for ghost is uhane. They considered that the uhane was not permanently attached to the body, It could leave during sleep.  A concept very close the the western version of Astral Traveling.  The Hawaiians thought the soul left through the ‘spirit hole” near the inner corner of the eye.  Very similar to the indian concept of the third eye.  While outside the body the soul could travel around the island and speak with other spirits or god known to the hawaiians as aumakua. Much attention was paid to these dreams and as the stories were told around the campfire they were searched for omens and predictions of the future.

When a person died if it was a sudden death the soul could still be seen fluttering around the body like a butterfly.  There were ceremonies to try to reanimate the dead under certain conditions.  It makes one wonder if the ancient kahuna had an intuitive  knowledge of heart disease or cpr.  Some chiefs were said to have been massaged back from the dead.  If the soul would not return there were places on the island that were known as good jumping off points to enter into the spirit realm easily.  Many toursits today still visit the Point on the island known as the puli.  They are told it is significant because King Kamehamaha won a major battle there.  But the odds are very good he drove them there to die because it was known as a good place to transition over.  So his enemies would not leave angry ghosts to torment him.  A good jumping off point was known as a Po.

Hawaiians thought ghosts were more active and powerful at night.  There were precautions taken agains spoilage of food and if possible it was not carried open at night. It was thought that ghost could cause foul odors, and throw rocks they were known to cause travelers at night to go astray and a sure way to tell if a ghost was near was an uncomfortable cool breeze.  If someone wasn’t sure if they were talking to a ghost or not they had them look in a gourd of water; if there was a refection it was a person, if no refection it was a ghost.

I find it so interesting that the phenomena ancient hawaiians attributed to ghosts are still the criteria that are searched for in all the ghost hunting shows you could turn on your tv and watch at any moment.  It is hard to chalk it up to silly superstition when it seems to be such a universal human experience.  From the Hawaiian perspective ghosts are most certainly real.

 

 

Last modified on November 30, 2011

Categories: Ghosts, Magic
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