Legends Of Hawaii’s Night Marchers
There is hardly a native Hawaiian or long-term transplant to the islands that has not, at some point when spending time on these shores, had an eerie experience that made them believers in the Hawaiian spirits that rule the night. If you are a newcomer to the islands scoffing and dismissive of the night spirits as colorful folktales, do so at your peril.
The Night Warriors, known as Huaka’I po in the Hawaiian language, are frequently seen, especially on nights when the moon is full. During the recent event of the blood or red moon, even though the islands were shrouded in dense clouds, multiple sightings of the Night Marchers were reported to local authorities in different locations throughout the island chain.
Appearing on the last four Hawaiian moon phases, just before the moon goes completely dark, the Night Warriors have frequently been sighted traveling along a historic route that reportedly cuts directly through the Davies Pacific Center in downtown Honolulu. Recent sightings target sacred Hawaiian sites such as sacrificial temples and other locations in O’ahu including King Kamehameha III’s summer palace, Yokomama Bay, Kalalma Valley, Makaha Valley Plantation, Ka’ena Point, and Diamond Head Crater.
On the nights of Kane, Lono, Akua, and Ku, ancient warriors proceed in a single file, venturing forth from their burial mounds at sunset to march in proud unison to revisit sacred sites or the locations of past battles, returning to their graves the following sunrise.
Huaka’i In History
The first documented record of the Night Marchers dates back to the time of Captain Cook’s arrival in the islands. In 1883, recovered archives registered the first reference to a Huaka’i describing a mighty phantom army, the O’lo (spirit ranks) proudly led by the spirit of King Kamehameha, pacing angrily about on the Big Island of Hawaii.
Several residents tell ghostly tales of rhythmic chanting, horn blowing, and the beating of distant drums carried on the evening tradewinds. Both locals and visitors report bright torches sighted in the darkness in areas of dense jungle with no trails. On nights of the full moon, numerous credible sightings of bands of tall and muscular warriors, bronzed and beautiful to behold, are reported. The warriors are described as marching with a god as their leader accompanied by a band of torchbearers leading the way.
Hawaiian storyteller Lopaka Kapanui remarks, “The night marchers’ job wasn’t to terrorize people. It was simply to protect the most sacred, high-ranking chiefs (depending on kapu status, the Chiefs marched in front or behind the procession). The night marchers showed mercy by traveling at night to spare people from harm.”
Escorts Across The Rainbow Bridge
Kahuna elders advise that the Night Marchers only appear during daylight hours when they are coming to accompany a member of their Ohana (family) on their death journey across the rainbow bridge to the joy of the spirit world beyond.
Some people who report encounters with the Night Marchers say that they seem to float just above the ground while other reported sightings of giant footprints in the soil or sand after they have passed. Others encountering the Night Marchers warn that no solid object in their ancient pathway can stop their march, reporting that they trek right through your house, leaving an abiding legacy of fear that requires a cleansing and a blessing before the home is once again inhabitable.
Beware Oahu’s Pali Highway After Dark
Nu'uanu Pali Lookout, Kalihi Valley, and Ka'a'awa Valley on Oahu are known Night Marcher trails. After dark visitors are encouraged to be wary. Oahu's Pali Highway, adjacent to the Kamehameha battle site, is an established pathway of the Night Marchers. Nighttime visits, especially if you travel alone, are not recommended.
On Oahu's windward coast in Kualoa Ranch, in an area said to hold the remains of hundreds of Hawaiian Chiefs, Night Marcher sightings are common, reportedly the cause of numerous nighttime vehicle accidents.
Historic taboos and the frightening experiences of others tell one that above all, the Night Marchers demand respect. To disbelieve or ignore their mandates is to risk death. Unless one of your relatives is marching in spirit with the warriors and recognizes and acknowledges you, you will die if your look upon their faces.
The Night Marchers are bound to protect their relatives for life and throughout eternity. When you feel the earth beneath your feet begin to tremble, the chanting cadence call of warrior voices, and pounding feet striking the earth, hide. A foul scent of decay precedes the marcher’s arrival; they carry the stench of battle and death.
The Hawaiian people cultivate Ti plants around their homes to provide protection from the Night Marchers and ward off other worrisome evil spirits. When the Night Marchers encounter a home surrounded by Ti plants, they detour and go around until they regain their dedicated path.
Hawaiian natives warn: there is nowhere to hide. When you sense the presence of the Night Marchers, fall flat on the earth with your face buried in the soil. Remain perfectly still, projecting a mind message of respect and submission. You will not die; the warriors will pass.