The Hawaiian islands contain an amazing blend of mythologies. There are gods and demons, ghosts and spirits, an entire mythological structure on a small island chain far off in the Pacific. One of the most powerful myths is of the Hukai’po, or Marchers of the Night, a procession of gods and ghosts that carry the dead to their new fates.
The Marchers of the Night only walk on certain nights, specifically kane, the night of the new moon. The procession always follows the same paths, which even today are well known on each of the islands. This ghostly march has been going on for a very long time, with petroglyphs in caves on the islands showing the line of marching figures.
Interrupting the procession is very dangerous. Ghostly warders typically warn people away, shouting “kapu” or keep away. Only a fool would ignore such a warning. Those who happen upon the march by sheer dumb luck are greeted by a howl of “O-ia“, or “let him be pierced.” The marchers will then set upon the hapless traveler with spears and knives. The only escape is to tear off all of your clothes and fall to the ground and feign sleep or bow with deep and sincere reverence. Alternatively, if one of the procession is family to the interloper, they can beg for mercy and have the line move on.
Since the paths are well known, and the locals are well aware of these ghostly parades, visitors rarely have any issue. In more modern times, reinactors have put on demonstrations of the marches, but never on the night of the new moon. The line of marchers is easily identified by the torches they carry.
The marchers take the dead into the underworld where they may begin new lives. Sometimes they will return to help their family members on their march through the dark night.