Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Jun 10, 2017


Let’s talk about curses and let’s be forthright and upfront about it.
In certain fields of academia, curses are thought to be purely psychosomatic or that at least they are the result of the power of suggestion. Just as academics in the paranormal field along with qualified exorcists believe that most cases of demonic possession can be explained as psychosis or schizophrenia, so too can we say that those who openly claim to have the skill to render curses are doing it for a price. They are nothing but practiced con men who prey on the weak and vulnerable.

Today, there are people who still have the know-how and the ability to cast curses in 2017. You don’t know who they are because they don’t fit the image of what a death dealer should look like. For myself, I find it amusing when people tell me that they are descended of Kahuna. The immediate question that I ask them is, “Oh, really? What kind of Kahuna?”

The normal response is, “I dunno, I figure must be a Kahuna who can curse people.”

In Hawaii's days of old, there were Kahuna of many different aspects of society. There were Kahuna who were spiritual advisers, those who were experts in the Hawaiian art of Lua, spear throwing, selecting sites of land for certain uses, agriculture, astronomy, prophets and seers of omens, healing and, yes, even sorcery. An expert in such sorcery is Kahuna 'Anā'anā.

Unfortunately, there is an ignorance or unwillingness on the part of locals and people from the continent to try and understand the word Kahuna and its origins. For all the various kinds of Kahuna who were skilled in different arts in our culture, it is the image of a Hawaiian/Polynesian witch doctor cast in a Hollywood movie that everyone remembers. Thanks largely in part to Hollywood, a Kahuna is defined as an evil curse casting wide-eyed witch doctor who is beyond the reach of moral redemption.

Our first visual introduction to a Kahuna was in a 1951 Twentieth Century Fox film called, ‘Bird of Paradise’ starring Louis Jordan, Jeff Chandler, and Debra Pagent. Interestingly enough, the film was a remake of a 1932 original. The Kahuna character in question was portrayed by actor Maurice Schwartz who was obviously not Hawaiian nor Polynesian. His wide-eyed emoting and foreboding tone of voice make him a fearsome character. Thus, that image and much more like it were ingrained into the minds of everyone who saw it.

Curiosity seekers ask me about the undertaking of learning to be a Kahuna who can put curses on others and what the process might be? Rather than reply with a long drawn out thesis, I tell them that they could not survive the requirements of such an undertaking, because they would essentially have to give up everyone and everything they know and own. It’s not a nine to five occupation. It’s not like the step class you go to on Tuesday and Thursday, you don’t get weekends off for birthday parties and graduations. It’s twenty-four seven, three hundred sixty-five days of the year, every day all day for the rest of your life.

There is no retirement.

Of course, the appeal of possessing a malevolent power over others is certainly intoxicating and the people who are looking at it from the outside are always the ones who want to get in. However, they haven’t a clue as to what ‘getting in’ is all about.

I receive calls on a frequent basis from people who want to know how to put a curse on someone else. As is my practice, I calmly inquire as to why they would want to do something like that? Although sometimes the request is based on revenge, the most basic reason that almost everyone gives boils down to a common one, jealousy. It’s a testament to a society that does not possess the tools of conflict resolution, it speaks of a society that would rather take the easy way out than finding a better one, a higher road if you will. Again, it perpetuates and reinforces this negative image of a term that can be applied to different skill sets of which someone has mastered.

In my stories of vile curses which are the result of evil misdeeds, you will note that I do not and never will list any of the accompanying prayers or rituals which bring a curse to life. There are too many quick fixers out there who are looking to learn any and everything they can about our culture so that they can teach it as a workshop, whereby they will charge a ridiculous fee with the promise to make one a "certified Kahuna." If you doubt what I am saying, look online and see who it is that teaches workshops regarding sweat lodges. Chances are, your top search results aren't anyone who is a first nations practitioner.

There is also a concern for those who are new to the field of the paranormal in Hawaii and don’t quite know where to start. Unfortunately, two things normally occur, one they go after all of the established groups and make every effort to discredit them -- I’ve never seen the point of doing something that would automatically make you an outcast. Secondly, they try to become Kahuna by either being promoted as such, by association, by some self-proclaimed divine intervention, or by openly claiming a type of Kahuna lineage. Certainly, these are dangerous waters to tread.

There is a saying, "Mai kaula'i na iwi o na kupuna." Translation: Do not lay out the bones of your ancestors for all to see.

Your lineage is yours alone. The true practitioners of the dark arts and the healing arts don’t advertise, they don’t figuratively parade the bones of their ancestors for all to see. Meaning, they don’t boast about their heritage to all who care to listen. These men and women have nothing to prove and nothing to gain by means of fame or fortune but they are a small clandestine group whose mana is so potent that all they have to do is think about the intent alone, and it will set itself in motion to happen. Without any of the proper training of which I earlier mentioned in this article, it is foolish of anyone to believe that they are suddenly endowed with the means to curse someone or to help lift a curse. Surely if you haven't the skill, you will end up taking the curse upon yourself and it won't be anything that a cleansing in the ocean will fix.

Any art that is truly mastered is a living art and requires a lifetime of learning, trials, and errors and learning again. My cousins are both Kahuna in the art of Ka 'Uhi, Hawaiian tattooing. My elder cousin is singularly responsible for reviving the ancient practice of Hawaiian tattooing by the use of traditional tools. His apprentice has just recently himself become the first Hawaiian Kahuna Ka 'Uhi in two hundred years who has formally gone through the rites of 'uniki in order to achieve his status of master or Kahuna.

There are still Kahuna in Hawaii who are masters of various practices. For me, I try to be the master of one-lifetime practice. I've been working at this my entire life and I still have so much more to learn. My practice is becoming the master of my mind. That my friends are where the true lessons begin, trying to become a Kahuna of yourself.

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