Story by Jill Engledow | Art by Al Lagunero
On moonless nights, with phantom torches aglow, Hawai‘i’s legendary night marchers strike terror into the hearts of all who see them. These ghostly processions of warriors, chiefs or ‘aumakua (family gods) are said to haunt certain old paths, such as Maui’s La Pérouse Bay or the town of Kaunakakai on Moloka‘i. Sometimes these apparitions maintain a spooky silence; sometimes they fill the night with flute and drum. The presence of ka huakai o ka po (the parade of the night) may bring mist, a heavy downpour, or thunder and lightning.
Less common than in days gone by, visits by ka huakai o ka po spell danger for mortals; it is said that the mere sight of night marchers can be fatal. Yet some have lived through such encounters, and even claim to have watched chiefs and warriors dancing and playing games of long ago.
While some might be lucky enough to have an ancestor or an ‘aumakua in the procession to plead for their lives, the best advice for those encountering night marchers is to get out of the way as quickly as possible. Lie flat on the ground, be perfectly still, and keep your eyes closed.