March of the Ancestral Warrior Spirits

“The first thing you will hear is drums in the distance, then you will smell a foul and musky odor, and you will hear a conch shell being blown as fair warning to get out of the way.  You will see torches getting brighter and brighter as they get closer.  Your best chance is to have an ancestor that recognizes you as they will call out Na’u!, which means mine!  And if you are in the night marchers’ bloodline no one in the procession can harm you.  No matter what you build in their path they go straight through it.  The night marchers are the vanguard for sacred chiefs or chiefesses who have a high station in life.” - Po Kane. Haunted Hawaiian Nights, by Lopaka Kapanui

According to the Kaulana Mahina or Hawaiian Moon Calendar, there are certain dates on which the Huaka’i po —  the nightmarchers or ancestral spirits — make these ghostly marches.  Po Kane, the 27th day of the moon cycle, is a favorite. 

Between sunset and sunrise they march in rows to drum beats and repeat oli – chants.  Usually, there is heavy wind and rain accompanied by mist, high surf, thunder and lightening when the nightmarchers are sighted.  Often they appear to float a few inches above the ground, but some witnesses say they have seen mysterious footprints on the marchers’ path.

The ghostly procession  must never be interrupted.  Legend says that resting your eyes upon them could signal a very grim fate.  It’s believed that the marchers can detect humans by their scent.  People are urged to keep the wind to their backs,  crouch low to the ground, be quiet and still, and not look at them.  Huaka’i po are set upon their destination and not considered spirits that will deviate from their path to haunt humans.  

On Maui Huaka’i po have been sighted in La Perouse Bay, part of the Ahihi-Kinau Natural Area Preserve, Kahakuloa, and Kekaa, as well as on the other islands.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!…Be very careful where you celebrate this year because Po Kane falls on December 31, 2010.  Remember that it is prescribed as a day of prayer to the god Kane, the first of the gods, who is said to have created the universe.

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