ʻuhane (nvs. Soul, spirit, ghost; spiritual)
Aloha mai kākau,
While thumbing through my mother’s journals, I came across a section entitled “Superstitions.”
It was a fascinating collection of mom’s personal experiences, family stories, practices observed, and areas in Kohala that were kapu. There were eerie stories about fireballs in the sky, notes on places to avoid so as not to encounter Night Marchers or other ʻuhane, and reminders not to sweep or whistle at night.
It also included a story about an encounter my grandfather had with an ʻuhane.
My grandfather secretly brewed ʻōkolehao and made his deliveries at night. This took place in the 1920s during Prohibition when such activity was illegal. Once, as he traveled under the cover of darkness, he spied a strange light up ahead. As the light came closer, his horse spooked, dancing around and backing up. No matter how my grandfather urged, his horse refused to continue forward.
He struggled on his horse for some time, unable to move past the light. Finally, concerned that sunrise was near, he opened a container of ʻōkolehao and flicked a bit of the liquor towards the mysterious light, giving it a taste. That was enough. The light disappeared and my grandfather completed his clandestine delivery before the sun came up.
During the month of October, Halloween is celebrated in America and elsewhere around the world. Halloween has its roots in the Celtic festival of Samhain, during which people lit bonfires and dressed up in costumes to ward off ghosts as it was believed that during this time of the year portals between worlds opened.
America’s commercialized version of Halloween is far removed from this ancient festival. However, this annual reminder that the veil between this life and the next is very thin is something that resonates with me.
Reflecting on the notes in my mother’s journal, and my own spiritual journey, I think about how our ancestors are always with us. We talk about our kūpuna being with us, but I think sometimes we donʻt realize how true that is – that they are literally here and that we can feel their presence.
We are a spiritual people. It is part of our DNA, and this ʻike is passed through the stories and traditions of our ʻohana. Our spirituality is engrained in our moʻomeheu, in our understanding of the sacredness of our ʻāina, and in our relationship with Ke Akua, nā akua, nā ʻaumākua.
In this issue of Ka Wai Ola, we delve into the world of renowned Kanaka Maoli storyteller Lopaka Kapanui, who specializes in ghost stories, providing both entertainment and insight into what may exist beyond the veil.
On a heavier note, October is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month, so we share the efforts of advocates on the front lines who are working to end Intimate Parter Violence.
Finally, we round out this issue with a variety of stories including a name change, national appointments of ʻŌiwi leaders, and a new play in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi.
Hauʻoli Lā Heleuī!
Sylvia M. Hussey, Ed.D.
Ka Pouhana | Chief Executive Officer