Sunday, April 14, 2013



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 Watanae, 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."


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 lightning."

The trees comprising this grove were the nioi, 'ohe, a'e and possibly the kauila.

These trees became 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 kalaipahoa.  Wood from the nioi tree, or images caved 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,' traveling 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-paho 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.  The 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 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."


As I have previously recounted, I was first introduced to Mr. Cathcart through authoress June Gutmanis.  He traveled 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-ha ole, was born in the Paloma area of Honolulu in 1903  His father was English, vice-president of Wilder Steamship Company.  His Hawaiian grandparents had been invited to King Kahlua's coronation.  They took Arthur to Molokai 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 Molokai 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 10, 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 kahunas were trained on the island of Molokai.  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 neighborhood 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!!  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 its 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 strangest cases, but also related an experience that he had with a family in the Spackle area of of Oahu.  This family kept a pu'olo bundle in a basket in their home.  He stated 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.

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