Startling revelations from Kalani Hanohano
Interview by Brent Raynes
Kalani Hanohano, a Hawaiian himself, has researched these stories in great depth and detail, and I am just beginning to learn from him many startling aspects of these phenomena. I asked him to share with us how he came about researching the akualele phenomena and what he learned. Below is a summary of key points that he provided:
What does Akualele mean?
Simple translation from the Hawaiian, akualele means “flying god.” Akua = god; lele = to fly.
When did I become aware of this phenomenon?
When I was a young child growing up in Hawaii the most prominent parental and cultural dictate was that a child “should be seen and not heard.” Knowing fully what this meant, I made sure that I quietly sat at the feet of my elders so that I could listen intently while they discussed the many strange experiences of friends and family. Among the many tales that were told were those of the Hawaiian ghost marchers, menehune sightings, kahuna practitioners, phantom hitchhikers and the hidden art of the hula and lua (Hawaiian martial arts). It was during one of these many family discussion sessions that I learned about the akualele. Like most children of a certain age, stories of the supernatural energized me.
During my early teen years (60s) my father introduced me to Fate magazine. Shortly afterward I discovered at our downtown Honolulu newsstand Ray Palmers two publications, Flying Saucers Magazine and Search Magazine.
Discovering that there were groups “out there” dedicated to solving the ufo and other paranormal mysteries galvanized me, and I began by small steps to formalize my borderline interests. Files were built, newsclippings clipped and my personal correspondence to pen pals increased. The NICAP and APRO Bulletins became close companions, while I yearned to save enough money to subscribe to Britain´s Flying Saucer Review.
It was during this formative period the early 1960s that I became aware of Riley Crabb. He had at one time directed a local Hawaii ufo organization that he called the Akualele Research Group. When I discovered him (via a local radio station interview), he had already taken over the directorship of Meade Layne´s Borderland Sciences Research Associates (California).
Although I listened to a few Hawaii radio talk show interviews with him, I never met Riley Crabb. Nor have I ever been able to obtain copies of his old Akualele Research Group Newsletter.
But one thing struck me immediately and changed the way that I dealt with the ufo topic: I knew from my own personal research that the akualele was a supernaturally generated light phenomenon produced by Kahuna sorcery. It was not a visiting craft from elsewhere in the universe as was so commonly believed in the 1950s and 60s.
While I certainly appreciated what Riley Crabb was doing by suggesting that the akualele was also a stand-in Hawaiian term for ufos, I felt strongly that this was greatly misleading. I developed the need to make a clarification of this discrepancy. The opportunity to do this would not rear its head until the early 1980s, when I left Seattle to return to Hawaii. Within 6 months of returning home I began the production of “FULL MOON: A Report From The Islands”.
What is an akualele?
The akualele are devices manufactured by Kahuna sorcery whose main function is to harm or kill another human being.
Research during the 1980s
I returned to Hawaii in late 1979 after having lived for 11 years in Seattle. During my period of residence in Seattle I had the great fortune to work very closely with Bob Gribble, former fireman turned ufo investigator. Bob Gribble established one of the very first ufo organizations in the United States during the 1950s. This was before either NICAP or APRO came into the picture. A small group of Seattlites interested in the ufo mystery began to meet at Bob´s home. The result was the formation of an organization that Bob called Phenomena Research. About a year or so later, just in time for the 1973 ufo flap that clobbered the USA, the National UFO Reporting Center was set up. We were then receiving clippings from 3 sources: Rod Dyke of the UFO Newsclipping Service; the late Gilbert Bernier, a lone ufologist who subscribed to a press clipping service; and Bob Gribble, who was then subscribing to Allen´s Press Clipping Service. Today, the National UFO Reporting Center is owned and run by Peter Davenport.
As Bob Gribble´s assistant, I spent many, many hours, one-on-one, discussing many aspects of the ufo phenomenon. Discussions with other members of the group, particularly Aileen Garoutte, who has known Bob Gribble for much longer than I, transformed my relationship to the ufo topic. It forced me to be far more critical of the data that I was ingesting on a daily basis, and proved to me with certainty the necessity of establishing a more functional data-base of worldwise ufo sightings.
When I returned to Hawaii in 1979, I brought with me a good deal of ufo knowledge acquired through my association with the National UFO Reporting Center.
My formal research on the akualele began almost immediately after my return to the islands. And then, all of a sudden, something extraordinary happened. Let me tell you about it.
In 1980, I was on the hunt for akualele information. Over the years I´ve developed a proficiency for library research, but my search for scholarship on the akualele topic was heading nowhere fast.
One beautiful afternoon one of many in the islands I drove to the Bishop Museum. I asked the ticket taker if she would let me in free as I wanted to see the museum´s book store. What happened next is absolutely true! I will swear it with my hands on the Bible, or a used copy of George Adamski´s “Flying Saucers Have Landed.”
On entering the book store, I looked around and unconsciously reached out to a paperbound book on the shelf. I did not grasp it correctly and it fell to the floor. I could see that the book had opened to reveal an article. I bent down to pick up the book and was shocked to the core to read the following:
“The Fireball In Hawaiian Folklore”
By William K. Kikuchi
University of Arizona, Tucson
Thus began my formal and intense inquiry into the subject of this article. A gift from the gods of synchronicity. And it happened exactly as I have described it.
Dr. Kikuchi´s article became the centerpiece of the first issue of my newsletter, “Full Moon.” I received permission directly from Dr. Kikuchi to reprint his article. The response to the first issue was wonderful, particularly since some of it came from those in the anthropological and transpersonal psychology fields. I also received a great response from Bob Rickard (Fortean Times) and other British readers.
The next phase of my research began when I was introduced to, and was befriended by, the late June Gutmanis, herself an author of several books on kahuna healing and ancient Hawaiian prayers. She was aware that I worked at two jobs: one as an editor for several Hawaii magazines, and the second as an on-air technician and video editor at Hawaii´s Oceanic Cablevision. She noticed that I needed to get out of the city to write and collect my thoughts so she offered me her Waianae home (located in the country area of Oahu) for weekend stayovers. I seized the opportunity and accepted her offer.
June Gutmanis was 72 when she died in the late 1990s. She was a noted historian who lectured to university students. She authored 4 books on Hawaiian themes. She had also authored several articles for National Geographic and Readers Digest. She was also a consultant on the movie “Hawaii.”
June Gutmanis was born in Pawnee County, Nebraska. She was a pilot during WWII and worked alongside military meteorologists.
June had no formal college degree. Just a passion for things Hawaiian. She was a caucasion woman who had found her way home to Hawaii.
June Gutmanis was a treasure trove of information about Hawaii. And if she did not know something, she knew who did.
June was the caretaker to the late Mr. Theodore Kelsey. He was also a non-Hawaiian who had a lot of knowledge of the old Hawaiian ways.
And he spoke the Hawaiian language fluently.
June would provide care to the very aged Theodore Kelsey, and in return, Mr. Kelsey would translate Hawaiian documents or newspaper articles that would come into her possession.
In 1981, June introduced me to a remarkably interesting man by the name of Arthur Cathcart. In a series of meetings held on the lawn of the Iolani Palace in Honolulu, and at June´s residence in Waianae, Arthur talked about the Hawaii of yesteryear, of ghosts, and of his personal knowledge of the akualele.
As I have written in a past issue of Full Moon, such personal testimony regarding a persons direct experience with Hawaiian sorcery rarely surfaces. Arthur´s testimony of witnessing the actual processes of akualele arousal is a rare gem, almost impossible to find in popular literature.
Arthur Cathcart´s testimony was turned into a lengthy article for the April 1982 issue of Full Moon. The title of that article was: “Flying Lights: Concerning the ritual generation of a luminous phenomenon.”
What are akualele? The research of Dr. William K. Kikuchi
Dr. Kikuchi´s ground-breaking research on akualele, “The Fireball In Hawaiian Folklore”, was published in 1976 in the book “Directions In Pacific Traditional Literature.” (Bishop Museum Press).
Dr. Kikuchi´s paper was aided and encouraged by the late Dr. James E. McDonald, University of Arizona. Most ufo researchers know who Dr. McDonald was and are acutely aware of his many contributions to the ufo field.
If memory serves, Dr. Kikuchi was also a student of the late anthropologist Dr. Katherine Luomala, who taught at the University of Hawaii. She was widely known for her work on Hawaiian folklore, so Dr. Kikuchi´s paper uses analysis that derives from that discipline.
In his study, Dr. Kikuchi acknowledges that the fireball motif is present throughout the Pacific region: from New Zealand to Hawaii. He notes that the stories of the akualele and other tales of the supernatural were used to “instruct the listener” and to “educate in a subtle manner and instill a respect for right and wrong in selected areas of behaviour.”
Social control, if you will.
Pre-european Hawaii was “stratified, integrated and cohesive.” In other words, rigid and under control. The ancient Hawaiian Kapu system (a system of laws that forbade the people from doing certain things under penalty of death) was overthrown by King Liholiho in 1819. This was done in order to undermine the supernatural foundations of Hawaiian society.
Asiatics streamed into the islands beginning in the 1800s, and the Japanese brought with them their own tales of the supernatural, including stories about the tama-shii (ball wind) and the hinotama fireball.
Dr. Kikuchi acknowledges that the akualele is derived from sorcery and quotes author Martha Beckwith:
“Sorcery had become one of the strongest forces in shaping the life and character of the Hawaiian people and in determining the careers of their leaders.”
Dr. Kikuchi mentions two kinds of akualele sorcery:
The first occurred sometime during Hawaii´s ancient past and the incident remains undated (although it has been discussed by Hawaii historians). According to Hawaiian tradition, on the Hawaiian island of Molokai, three “gods” and here Kikuchi lists their names entered into a grove of previously harmless trees on the slope of Moanalua. A place with the specific name of Puuahaukina. Tradition states that their entry into this grove of trees occurred “with a horrendous flash of lighting.”
The trees comprising this grove were the nioi, ´ohe, a´e and possibly the kauila.
These trees become infected with a strange power. Contact with the wood resulted in death. Being hit by a chip of wood from these trees while attempting to cut them down resulted in death.
A way was finally found to shape this poisonous wood into an image. This image was called Kalai-pahoa. Wood from the nioi tree, or images carved from the nioi tree were brought into contact with the Kalai-pahoa image and energy was transmitted from that image to the nioi wood.
This was the beginning of Kalai-pahoa fireball sorcery and it was apparently very prevalent during the reign of King Kamehameha I, around 1812.
Dr. Kikuch gives us a good description of Kalai-pahoa fireball generation, which was probably provided by Hawaiian historian Samuel M. Kamakau:
“Akualele were described as resembling ´fire rockets,´ travelling great distances. When it was within the wood, the god-spirit was content. However, when (the wood was) scratched by its keeper, it would fly out, pulsating as though throbbing in anger at being hurt.”
Another variation on akualele utilized Kalai-pahoa mana (probably chips of that wood) kept in a bundle. This was referred to as akua-kumu-haka sorcery.
Dr. Kikuchi posits five identifiable beliefs about the akualele:
1. Fireballs are sent by someone human.
2. Fireballs can be stopped by swearing.
3. Fireballs fly leaving sparks.
4. Fireballs vary in color from red, orange and white to blue.
5. Fireballs are omens.
Indeed they are omens. They are omens of someone´s impending death.
Dr. Kikuchi summarizes his research on akualele as follows:
The akualele “is generally described as an elongated ball which in flight resembles a tadpole with a long tail leaving sparks as it flies. This is called the pu-ali shape. Its flight seems to be directional at above tree level, but at times haphazard at lower levels. Because of their color range, these akualele can be identified as to the sex of the captured spirit. Red was said to signify male, whereas all lighter shades, from yellow to blue, signified the female . . . The spirit manifests itself as a blazing, pulsating fireball, and, as it pulsates, it reaches some optimum size in its flight. The fireball can be stopped in flight and destroyed simply by swearing at it. Its destruction always starts with a brilliant explosion which does not harm people standing nearby; neither does it cause secondary fires. Upon explosion, each piece moves about on the ground; and these according to one informant, are the ´e´epa people, who scamper about to do their missions of mischief.”
The Akualele according to Arthur Cathcart
As I have previously recounted, I was first introduced to Mr. Cathcart through authoress June Gutmanis. He travelled a good distance on the bus to keep his many appointments with us. He was never late. He never complained. I found him to be a truthful man, a man of enormous integrity.
Arthur Cathcart “. . . a Hawaiian-haole, was born in the palama area of Honolulu in 1903. His father was English, vice-president of Wilder Steamship Company. His Hawaiian grandparents had been invited to King Kalakaua´s coronation. They took Arthur to Moloka`I at the age of four to cure a serious illness with Hawaiian medicine. After his return to Honolulu at the age of eight for schooling, he continued to spend holidays with his grandparents on Moloka`i where he learned much about his Hawaiian cultural heritage and customs.
“He attended a Catholic Seminary for approximately two years. After he dropped out, he went to work as a dance instructor and steward for Matson Line. Before he was 20, he went to Hollywood with Charlie King´s music group, where performances of plays about the monarchy were put on.
“He returned to Honolulu, worked as a Hawaiian Pineapple Company security guard for 25 years until his retirement.
“Arthur attended both Prince Kuhio´s and Queen Liliuokalani´s funerals. He never married, and has always taken an active interest in preserving his Hawaiian cultural heritage.”
Many of Hawaii´s kahuna´s were trained on the island of Moloka´i. Many Hawaiians were not too keen about being around these sorcerers. Arthur Cathcart told me a rather telling tale which summarizes the attitude of the common Hawaiian to these dabblers of darkness. He told me that very often, when a kahuna sorcerer completed training, he would move to a neighbordhood of his choice on one of the islands. When this happened, it would not be an unusual scene to see residents of that area pack up their belongings and move out. Such was their fear of living next to these artisans of the darkside.
My interview with Mr. Cathcart appeared in my April 1983 issue of Full Moon. I did not include everything he disclosed to me. There were things that were discussed, specifically about spirit capture, that stunned me.
Certain kahunas knew how to capture and enslave spirits (unihipili). These spirits were captured and placed inside ti-leaf bundles that we call pu´olo. I asked Arthur many questions about this. Any witnesses?
Yes, there are those who have witnessed the process. Arthur was one of them. And he described to both June Gutmanis and I how it was done. And when Arthur completed his narrative, I sat back , and after all these years, I still remember my response:
“Oh . . . my . . . god! Oh . . . my . . . god! It´s so damned simple!
Well, it´s not simple in the sense that any Tom, Dick, or Hillary could do it. It´s the “logic” of it that is stunning.
Let me put it this way. Certain kahunas, those who practiced the darkness, had a very, very deep understanding of not only the pre-death state, but the actual termination process which results in final death. And they also knew about the vulnerabilities suffered by the spirit during this period. And they exploited it.
The reader can expect no further elucidation from me on this matter. It will simply not be forthcoming. While the spiritual technology of the kahunas is absolutely fascinating, I find both the physical and spiritual enslavement of any person much less their spirit - to be repugnant.
Once captured these enslaved souls would be kept in a pu`olo bundle made of kapa and ti-leaves. They needed to be fed and cared for. In an unpublished letter written to Fate magazine by the late Mr. Theodore Kelsey (Hawaiian translator) he has this to say about the feeding of spirits:
“The keeping of an unihipili incurred a grave danger to is possessor, for if prayer and offerings were neglected, the offended entity would turn against its keeper and strike him, with dire consequences.”
During my research for sources of information on paranormal events in Hawaii I had the great pleasure of meeting and speaking with former Honolulu Police Department (HPD)Police Chief Bernard Suganuma. Enormously gracious with his time, Mr. Suganuma not only confirmed HPD involvement with high strangeness cases, but also related an experience that he had with a family in the Papakolea area of Oahu. This family kept a pu´olo bundle in a basket in their home. He stated that he could hear this bundle shaking and moving as if something that was trapped inside desperately wanted to get out.
I have always had an issue with the whole concept of feeding entities (spirits) and I have never fully understood the Japanese tradition of leaving fruits and other edibles on the graves of their loved ones. I come from a different set of beliefs. Let them go to where they have to go. Don´t let them linger here.
You can read more on this type of phenomena in Alternate Perceptions Magazine, No. 117, Oct. 2007, Edited by Brent Raynes. www.mysterious-americal.net
Kalani Hanohano is a dear friend of mine. I was the first person when he came to Seattle to introduce him to UFO folks! Kalani presently lives in the Canary Islands.