Table of Contents
A hui hou © Martyn Kahekili Carruthers 1997
Hawaiian Healing: Deified Ancestors & Angels
You don’t need to be on Hawai’i long to hear unusual stories. And if you stay with native Hawaiians instead of tourist hotels, you may be confronted with some old ways rather quickly. Many Hawaiians enjoy talking story about the old days – and some few can even demonstrate what they talk about. If you are very fortunate you may meet genuine kumu or kahuna who practice aumakua healing or awaiku magic.
Ancient Hawaiian mysticism and healing include many akua – spirits and gods, ‘aumakua – ancestral guardian spirits and anela kia’i and awaiku – two types of angels. Many Hawaiians believe that akua, ‘aumakua and awaiku can protect or harm people, animals, fishes, plants and ‘ohana (families and villages).
Calling this superstition suggests irrationality – yet these beliefs were rational. Descriptions of akua were often consistent between districts and islands, while descriptions of ‘aumakua could differ between villages and even families. (Akua or ‘atua is still a commonly used word to refer to dead people, ghosts and demons).
Unlike akua and awaiku, ‘aumakua are ancestors (kupuna). ‘Aumakua were often associated with specific animals or plants (kinolau) – many native Hawaiians still avoid eating plants or hurting animals favored by their aumakua.
Some examples of ‘aumakua kinolau are sharks (mano), turtles (honu) and owls (pueo). ‘Aumakua are believed to punish disrespect by bringing illness upon the transgressors – illness which can be resolved with appropriate ho’omanamana.
Uncle George Naope was a master of hula dance, pule chants and mele songs. Although an entertainer, he knew many native healers and understood their methods. Uncle George Naope was also the teacher and a close friend of my close friend – Kawika David Blaikie.
Before the abandonment of the official (kapu) religion in 1819, and the subsequent acceptance of Christianity, prayers to the major akua were often directed first to ‘aumakua, calling them by name and invoking their aid to pass these communications up the line of seniority. Herb Kawainui Kane (Hawaiian Living Treasure)
I enjoyed meeting Uncle George Naope, often at the Makai Bar of the Keauhou Beach Resort in the early 1990’s, while I was trying to deepen my understanding of the systemic psychology that appeared to underlay Hawaiian healing.
Your ‘aumakua may support you outside of your everyday awareness, by warning you,
helping you and healing you. Pay close attention to everything around you,
especially in natural places. Meditate on apparent coincidences and
seek the underlying causes of events.
Uncle George Naope told many fascinating stories. I particularly enjoyed his tales involving the volcano goddess Pele (e.g. when he stopped a hot lava flow near Hilo). I spent many evenings at the Makai Bar talking to Uncle George, with the background sound of Pacific surf, trying to take notes unobtrusively.
I had read about ‘aumakua in the books of Max Freedom Long, who equated ‘aumakua to what he called a High Self. But Max Long wrote that he never met a kahuna and the Hawaiian reality is vastly different to Max Long’s New Thought ideas of the 1920’s and 30’s, which were based on the work of Phineas Quimby.
‘Aumakua are au (far traveling) makua (ancestors) … or ancestral spirits. Some native Hawaiians from the Ka’u District of Big Island consider Pele, the volcano goddess, to be an ancestor – and hence ‘aumakua. If Pele is your aumakua, you can ask her for favors and protection. Elsewhere in Hawaii, Pele is a respected akua – a dangerous goddess who lives in Kilauea (now called Volcanoes Park).
Aumakua of old Hawaii were often symbolized as wooden or stone statues … and also as animals, birds, fish and plants.
‘Aumakua were deified ancestral spirits which dwelled in the Pö, a timeless eternity existing “outside” the universe we know, to which the spirits of dead people return. You could think of ‘aumakua as family guardian angels who assist or discipline their descendents. ‘Aumakua had both male and female elements and, like awaiku, could mentor people in many ways – and not necessarily gently.
The practice of dedicating the dead to become guardian spirits of a family
aumakua was not known in the earliest period of the settling of these islands
(Hawaiian Mythology, Martha Beckwith).
Relationships with ‘aumakua have responsibility and obligations (kuleana). If you connect with your ‘aumakua, you will feel a need to to live your highest values and a sustainable lifestyle – with guilt or shame if you do not. Your sense of life is a useful barometer of your connection to your ancestors.
‘Aumakua and awaiku can help people find and heal ele’ele eke in their bodies – dark regions that seem to represent esoteric damage, unresolved trauma or relationship problems – or all three. The locations of ele’ele eke (literally black bags) in your body often correspond with the locations of chronic emotions and disease symptoms.
It seems that ‘aumakua can open those black bags and liberate trapped younger selves and other people’s spirits, helping you accept and integrate lost or younger versions of yourself – and heal emotional problems and disease symptoms. ‘Aumakua could be summoned with gifts of mana (energy), by a skilled kupuna (elder) or by a kahuna (expert). They often communicate during dreams and meditations.
Many religions monopolize talking to dead people …
saying that you should only talk to their undead founders.
My perspective is that chatting with
dead ancestors is just good manners.
Deified ancestors could be invited to festivities. Their descendents could seek their help in meditation, hakalau and during ho’oponopono. ‘Aumakua could solve family problems and heal sickness … and punish family members, sometimes with disease. Children were taught to be careful and courteous.
‘Aumakua could bless and curse
(David Malo – Hawaiian Antiquities, 1840)
Uli, an ‘aumakua, the chief agent of the kahuna ana’ana (sorcerer), a goddess,
was often addressed as “Uli nana pono – Uli nana hewa*.” She was employed
to do other criminal work. In the expression Lele Uli! that goddess is
appealed to speed on her errand.
* Uli who sees good – Uli who sees bad
Compare Aumakua of Hawaii with ‘Oromatua of Tahiti
The respectful relationships between native Hawaiians and their aumakua can be contrasted to the dread with which native Tahitians regarded oromatua. Ellis wrote in his Polynesian Researches (1825), that oromatua “were never invoked but by sorcerers, who implored their aid for the destruction of an enemy, or the injury of some person whom they were hired to destroy.”
In Tahiti, ‘oromatua were described as disembodied spirits of famous rulers and warriors. Small stone, wood or coral images called ti‘i were used by Tahitian sorcerers, especially pua wood from a temple (marae). These were possessed by demons (varua-ino), disembodied evil spirits (‘oromatua-‘ai-aru) and long-toothed spirits (‘oramatua-niho-roroa). These bound spirits were kept in a special building (marae) and controlled by magicians who acted as their parents, and used them for curses.
Comparison with Atua of Rotuma
From “The Natives of Rotuma, 1898″ by J. Stanley Gardiner, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute. (Rotuma is an island near Fiji)
The religion of Rotuma people seems to have degenerated into …
a mere belief in atua, a generic name for all devils, spirits and ghosts.
It is also used for the soul, as we understand it. These atua were ever
ready to punish and prey on anyone who did not propitiate them
with plentiful gifts of food and kava.
Few Westerners have more than a minimal appreciation of and connection to their dead ancestors. Hawaiian mysticism includes helping people communicate with their deceased ancestors to reestablish their lineage and family connectedness. We can help people find their ancestors and recreate connections (aka) with them. This can be a basis for pule ‘ohana (family prayer) and is useful to dissolve intergenerational emotional, health or relationship problems and gaining ancestral blessings.
In old Hawaii, major spirits (akua) were called first, and then ‘aumakua. Supplicants would identify themselves and request blessings. In older times, such prayers required offerings – chants of summoning were followed by special offerings for male and female lineage aumakua. An old Hawaiian chant of summoning began:
E kulou mai e na lani
Bend down, o heavens
Offerings are appropriate when connecting to aumakua. Aumakua can be given mana (power) and be asked to change whatever troubles the family. An old Hawaiian chant to call male lineage aumakua began by calling Kane (a supreme male god) and ended:
I na ‘aumakua kane a pau loa
To male aumakua
A pre-contact chant to call a female aumakua ended:
I na ‘aumakua wahine a pau loa
To female aumakua
Do you want to learn old Hawaiian healing arts by experience? Communicating with ‘aumakua is a part of Hawaiian mysticism that we teach. We can help you find and communicate with your ‘aumakua. See huna training.
Mahalo ke aumakua!
E komo mai. Welcome.
We teach in many countries – usually on secluded beaches, forests or parks.
We can meet and work online – or in beautiful places.
We bring this wisdom to the world under the name of Huna Kalani.
Do you want to heal your life? Do you want to bring back this ancient magic?
We offer experiential introductions to old Hawaiian mysticism and healing, in Hawaii and elsewhere. Experience for yourself the beauty and power of old Hawaii and expand your horizons. Explore this healing magic … and the roots of our systemic coaching.
|Training in Hawaiian Mysticism|
|Huna 1||Bringing Down the Sun: Ho’oponopono & Ho’omanamana|
|Huna 2||Magical Elements of Nature: Honua, Ha, Ahi & Wai|
|Huna 3||Dreamtime & Dreaming Together: Moe Uhane & Ho’omoe|
|Huna 4||Exploring the Unknown: Huna of Awaiku & Kumulipo|
|Huna 5||Black and White: Dealing with the Consequences of Magic|
|Huna 6||Shamanic Experiences in Hawaii, Croatia and Mexico|