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Myth Madness: Huaka‘i Pō, the Night Marchers

This week, we’re heading to warmer climates to seek out our creatures (and a good thing, too – it’s gotten a little too chilly on the home front). In Hawaii, we’re looking at the Huaka’i Pō, otherwise known as the Night Marchers.

The Night Marchers are said to be the lingering ghostly presence of Hawaiian warriors. Most reports concerning sightings claim that these intimidating apparitions are often accompanied by the sounds of a conch shell horn being blown into, chanting, drum beats, heavy footsteps marching, and even the barking of war hounds that accompanied them into battle. Others claimed that the ghostly lights of their torches could be seen floating down the paths. What always accompanies these forces is a powerfully foul odor, like dead or rotting flesh left out in the sun.

But the deadliest part of these spectral soldiers? Being seen. If they should happen upon you as they march from their burial grounds to past battle grounds (or occasionally holy grounds), then you will either fall down dead where you stand – or be cursed to walk with them for eternity, stolen away to march by their side. Some say that if one of your ancestors is marching amongst the army, you will be spared death but left with haunting visions as a warning. Others claim that if you show respect by laying face down in the dirt (and therefore, not bearing witness to their passing) that they might also allow you to live – however, this is only supposition. Most believe that just lying face down in the dirt will allow you to escape notice altogether, if you cannot run away fast enough at the sight of them. They are immensely strong, and nothing that is in their path will remain standing. By daylight, whatever might have blocked their well-traveled trails will be left crushed in the dust or broken apart.

All sources agree that it’s best to avoid them altogether, and this is best done by staying indoors. On the particular nights of Kane, Ku, Lono, or Kanaloa (days celebrating the four major deities of the Hawaiian tribes), they will rise as the sun sets, and wander the islands until sunrise. However, they have been known to rise during the day to escort the spirit of a warrior’s relative to the spirit world, and on occasion will also escort war veterans. When they rise during the day to do this, they do not take the lives on onlookers, nor do they cause damage. They are there peacefully, and recognize that they are not the power they are at night.

Interestingly enough, the Night Marchers are also occasionally considered a vanguard of sorts for ancient chieftains of high status or legendary prowess.

There is only one known way to keep the Huaka‘i Pō away from one’s home, should that home be a little too close to their usual stomping grounds. The home owner must plant Cordyline fruticosa, or   plants, at the four main corners of their property. This plant, known for its great spiritual prowess on the islands, will keep all ghosts and spirits from trespassing on one’s property – including the Night Marchers, who will then avoid the area at all costs, and continue around to their normal path. This is rather monumental, as tribal gods have also been known to travel with the ghostly armies – yet they still recognize the power of the plant, and respect it.

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This entry was posted on 11/13/2014 by in Myth Madness and tagged , .
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