The Hawaiian Kahuna and Reincarnation

Daddy Bray explains what reincarnation means to the Hawaiian.

This excerpt is part of a featured series printed in the Honolulu Star Bulletin Newspaper submitted by columnist, Clarice B. Taylor, in a titled series called “Tales about Hawaii” that dates from the 1950’s. I am simply retyping to retell these unique stories from this series of Hawaii history, culture and thinking.

 

 The Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Thursday,June 11, 1959 – Clarice B. Taylor’s “Tales about Hawaii

”Did the Hawaiian believe in reincarnation?” asks the haole “seeker of the truth” of Daddy (David K.) Bray in trying to find the secret of the power of the Kahuna.

”Yes and no,” Daddy Bray replies. “The Hawaiian did not call it reincarnation, but his beliefs were very similar to what you call reincarnation.”

First of all, Daddy Bray explains, the Hawaiian did not believe in death. He believed that life went on eternally and never died.

When the Hawaiian left this life, his soul either went straight to heaven or it was sometimes lost and consigned to hell. But hell to the Hawaiian was an underground cavern where the soul lived a monotonous life. There were no hell fires.

COULD VISIT EARTH
The soul in heaven could visit earth at will – it could go into hell and rescue a lost soul.

Sometimes heavenly souls were reborn on earth into the same family. Then you have a real reincarnation.

Sometimes heavenly souls returned to take possession of a body or person.

But the aumakua was the real “reincarnation” as the Hawaiian saw it.

If a man was good and prospered – it was because he had a “powerful aumakua,” ancestor who visited him and directed his actions. The Hawaiian of today call his aumakus his “inspiration” because not other word explains the situation.

If am man were bad and suffered for his sins, then his aumakua was said to have deserted him. At death, his soul wandered and became lost because his aumakua had deserted him and did not look after his soul.

ONE OR MORE
Each person has an aumakua and a spiritual person has more than one. A commoner might have a mother or grandmother as his aumakua.

An alii (nobleman) coud claim any one of the gods in heaven as his aumakua as well as some ancestor. The more aumakua the better. But, an aumakua, like a god, must be treated with care. Regular prayers and offerings must be made by the living person.