Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Aug 13, 2017

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down To Halloween 2017! #80


In the chant are the mindset, the knowledge, the history, the language and the intent. Depending also on the kind of chant you are offering, there is the faith that the purpose of the chant will see its result after it is given. Some chants have the 'i'i or the trilling vocal styling that gives it the ability to raise the skin of the listener. Other chants are of a sing-song variety, while still others are monotonal which is the bare basic method in which to perform a chant.

There are those chants that raise the vibrational energy or tone of an area especially an area that is known to be sacred. The atmosphere might suddenly change or a wind may appear for no reason or a gentle mist of rain may fall where there are no clouds in the heavens.

Hawaiians chants are also meant to evoke a romantic poetry regarding particular types of fragrant ferns, flowers, and vines. The heady aroma of such things moves the Hawaiian heart and mind to be inspired in creating delicious imagery that evokes veiled love making where only the most skilled chanter can perceive the hidden images.

On one occasion a few years back, I offered a simple chant as I always did in one location we like to frequent. However, before offering this chant a powerful wind blew through the grounds of the area and bent even the most stubborn trees in one direction. I, myself, could see what the wind was doing but I could not hear it nor could I feel it. The chant was completed afterward and we continued our trek, but someone among the group recorded a photograph just as my offering of the Oli was given.

What could have seduced this image to appear on the camera? Was it the chant that I offered or was it the person who took the photograph or was it because of the place where the photograph was taken or was it a combination of all three elements? I can tell you that when I offered a chant at the Pali Lookout, the ancestors came forth and laid a blanket of mist that was so thick that one could not even see the view of the Ko'olau side of the island. The terrible winds that the place is famous for subsided and did not even for a moment trouble the mist to dissipate. It stayed as it was until the time came for us to depart.

Mind you, I do not share these stories with you to elevate myself as someone who has the ability to change the course of nature and her workings. All I am saying is that there is an importance to Oli, to the art of Hawaiian chant. There is a reverence to be assumed in the way you hold yourself when giving a chant, any chant.

The chant that moved me to tears and scared me at the same time, was the canoe chant for Pele. I gave it one evening when sharing Mano or shark stories at the Bishop Museum last year. While performing the chant in front of a rather large gathering in Hawaiian Hall, I could hear another voice come in under mine and a second voice comes in just above the first one. Both were keeping harmony and then they were gone, I thought nothing of it until my wife and I had the opportunity to view the video which the museum staff recorded. Of course, no one heard those voices except for myself. However, on the video, you'll hear a voice come in between 3:26 and 3:35. I asked my friend Ross Okamura to isolate the voice in his recording studio but I had no idea that he did it while he was there by himself at night.

Ross had many choice words for me after listening to the whole video and he mentioned that there were more voices throughout the storytelling but he was too afraid to hear to anymore. Thus we are left with the question, is it the chant or the chanter? Is it the residual or cognitive energy in the environment? Or is it the very Kupuna themselves who decide to reply and give permission?

You decide.

-Photo Credit Candice Murata.
-Video Bishop Museum

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