This report deals with the discovery of an ancient and secret system of workable magic, which, if we can learn to use it as did the native magicians of Polynesia and North Africa, bids fair to change the world … provided the atom bomb does not make all further changes impossible.
As a young man I was a Baptist. I attended the Catholic Church often with a boyhood friend. Later on I studied Christian Science briefly, took a long look into Theosophy, and ended by making a survey of all religions whose literatures were available to me.
With this background, and having majored in Psychology at school, I arrived in Hawaii in 1917 and took a job teaching because the position would place me near the volcano, Kilauea, which was very active at the time and which I proposed to visit as often as possible.
After a three days’ voyage in a small steamer out of Honolulu, I at last reached my school. It was one of three rooms and stood in a lonely valley between a great sugar plantation and a vast ranch manned by Hawaiians and owned by a white man who had lived most of his life in Hawaii.
The two teachers under me were both Hawaiian, and it was only natural that I soon began to know more about their simple Hawaiian friends. From the first I began to hear guarded references to native magicians, the kahunas, or “Keepers of the Secret.”
My curiosity became aroused and I began to ask questions. To my surprise I found that questions were not welcomed. Behind native life there seemed to lie a realm of secret and private activities which were no business of a curious outsider. Furthermore, I learned that the kahunas had been outlawed since early days when the Christian missionaries became the ruling element in the Islands, and that all activities of the kahunas and their clients were strictly sub rosa, at least in so far as a white man was concerned.
Rebuffs only whetted my appetite for this strange fare which tasted largely of black superstition, but was constantly spiced to tongue-burning proportions by what appeared to be eye-witness accounts of both the impossible and the preposterous. Ghosts walked scandalously, and they were not confined to the ghosts of deceased Hawaiians. The lesser gods walked as well, and Pele, goddess of the volcanoes, was suspected repeatedly of visiting the natives both by day and by night in the disguise of a strange old woman never seen before in those parts, and given to asking for tobacco—which she got instantly and without question.
Then there were the accounts of healing through the use of magic, of magical killings of people guilty of hurting their fellows, and, strangest of all to me, the use of magic to investigate the future of individuals and, if it was not good, change it for the better. This last practice had a Hawaiian name, but was described to me as “Make luck business.”
I had come up through a hard school and was inclined to look with a suspicious eye on anything that savored of superstition. This attitude was reinforced when I received from the Honolulu Library the loan of several books which told what there was to tell about the kahunas. From all accounts—and these had been written almost entirely by the missionaries who had arrived in Hawaii less than a century earlier—the kahunas were a set of evil scoundrels who preyed on the superstitions of the natives. Before the arrival of the missionaries in 1820, there had been great stone platforms throughout the eight islands, with grotesque wooden idols and stone altars where even human sacrifices were made. There were idols peculiar to each temple and locality. The chiefs had their own personal idols very often, as the famous conqueror of all the Islands, Kamehameha I, had his hideous war god with staring eyes and shark’s teeth.
Near my school, in a district where I was later to teach, there had stood an extra large temple from which each year the priests set forth in procession, carrying the gods for a vacation trip through the countryside and collecting tribute.
One of the outstanding features of the idol worship was the amazing set of taboos imposed by the kahunas. Almost nothing at all could be done without the lifting of a taboo and the permission of the priests. As the priests had been backed by the chiefs, the commoners had a difficult time of it. In fact, so great had the imposition of the priests become that, the year before the arrival of the missionaries, the head kahuna of them all, Hewahewa by name, asked the old queen and the young reigning prince for permission to destroy the idols, break the taboos to the last one, and forbid the kahunas their practices. The permission was granted, and all kahunas of good will joined in burning the gods which they had always known were only wood and feathers.
The books provided fascinating reading. The high priest, Hewahewa, had evidently been a man of parts. He had possessed psychic powers and had been able to look into the future to the extent that he could advise Kamehameha I wisely through a campaign that lasted years and ended with the conquering of all other chiefs and the uniting of the Islands under one rule.
Hewahewa was an excellent example of the type of Hawaiians of the upper class who possessed a most surprising ability to absorb new ideas and react to them. This class amazed the world by stepping out of a grass skirt into all the vestments of civilization in less than a generation.
Hewahewa seems to have spent hardly five years in making his personal transition from native customs and ways of thought to those of the white men of the day. But he made one bad mistake in the process. When conservative old Kamehameha died, Hewahewa set to work to look into the future, and what he saw intrigued him greatly. He saw white men and their wives arriving in Hawaii to tell the Hawaiians of their God. He saw the spot on a certain beach on one of the eight islands where they would land to meet the royalty.
To a high priest this was most important. Evidently he made inquiries of the white seamen then in the Islands and was told that the white priests worshiped Jesus, who had taught them to perform miracles, even to raising the dead, and that Jesus had risen from the dead after three days. Undoubtedly the account was properly embroidered for the benefit of the Hawaiian.
Convinced that the white men had superior ways, guns, ships and machines, Hewahewa took it for granted that they had a superior form of magic. Realizing the contamination that had overtaken temple Kahunaism in the Islands, he promptly decided to clear the stage against the arrival of the white kahunas. He acted at once, and the temples were all in ruins when, on an October day in 1820, at the very spot on the very beach which Hewahewa had pointed out to his friends and the royal family, the missionaries from New England came ashore.
Hewahewa met them on the beach and recited to them a fine rhyming prayer of welcome which he had composed in their honor. In the prayer he mentioned a sufficient part of the native magic—in veiled terms—to show that he was a magician of no mean powers, and then went on to welcome the new priests and their “gods from far high places.”
Official visits with royalty finished, and the missionaries assigned to various islands with permission to begin their work, Hewahewa elected to go with the group assigned to Honolulu. He had already found himself in rather a tight box, however, because, as it soon developed, the white kahunas possessed no magic at all. They were as helpless as the wooden gods which had been burned. The blind and sick and halt had been brought before them and had been taken away, still blind, still sick and still halt. Something was amiss. The kahunas had been able to do much better than that, idols or no idols.
It developed that the white kahunas needed temples. Hopefully, Hewahewa and his men set to work to help build a temple. It was a fine large one made of cut stone and it took a long time to complete. But, when it was at last done and dedicated, the missionaries still could not heal, to say nothing of raising the dead as they had been supposed to do.
Hewahewa had fed the missionaries and befriended them endlessly. His name appeared frequently in their letters and journals. But, soon after the church at Waiohinu was finished, his name was erased from the pages of the missionary reports. He had been urged to join the church and become a convert. He had refused, and, we can only suppose, went back to the use of such magic as he knew, and ordered his fellow kahunas back to their healing practices.
A few years later, what with Christianity, hymn-singing and reading and writing being accepted by the chiefs in their rapid stride into civilized states, the missionaries outlawed the kahunas.
They remained outlawed, but as no Hawaiian police officer or magistrate in his right mind dared arrest a kahuna known to have genuine power, the use of magic continued merrily—behind the backs of the whites, so to speak. Meantime, schools were established and the Hawaiians slid with incredible speed from savagery into civilization, going to church on a Sunday, singing and praying as loudly as the next, and on Monday going to the deacon, who might be a kahuna on week days, to be healed or to have their future changed if they had found themselves in the midst of a run of bad luck.
In isolated districts the kahunas practiced their arts openly. At the volcano several of them continued to make the ritual offerings to Pele, and acted as guides for tourists on the side, often astounding them with a certain magical feat of which I shall tell in detail very soon.
To continue my story, I read the books, decided with their authors that the kahunas possessed no genuine magic, and settled back fairly well satisfied that all the whispered tales I might hear were figments of imagination.
The next week I was introduced to a young Hawaiian who had been to school and who had thought to show his superior knowledge by defying the local native superstition that one might not enter a certain tumbled temple enclosure and defile it. His demonstration took an unexpected turn and he found his legs useless under him. His friends carried him home after he had crawled from the enclosure, and, after the plantation doctor had failed to help him, he had gone to a kahuna and had been restored by him. I did not believe the tale, but still I had no way of knowing.
I asked some of the older white men of the neighborhood what they thought of the kahunas, and they invariably advised me to keep my nose out of their affairs. I asked well educated Hawaiians and got no advice at all. They simply were not talking. They either laughed off my questions or ignored them.
This state of affairs prevailed for me all that year and the next and the next. I moved to a different school each year, each time finding myself in isolated corners where native life ran a strong undercurrent, and in my third year found myself in a brisk little coffee-growing community with ranchers and native fishermen in the hills and along the beaches.
Very quickly I learned that the delightful elderly lady with whom I boarded at a rambling cottage hotel, was a minister, and that she preached each Sunday to the largest congregation of Hawaiians in those parts. I further learned that she had no connection with the Mission Churches or any other, was self ordained, and peppery on the subject. In due time I found that she was the daughter of a man who had ventured to try his Christian prayers and faith against the magic of a local kahuna who had challenged him and had promised to pray his congregation of Hawaiians to death, one by one, to show that his beliefs were more practical and genuine than the superstitions of the Christians.
I even saw the diary of that earnest but misguided gentleman. In it he reported the death, one by one, of members of his flock, then the sudden desertion of the remaining members. The pages for many days were left blank in the diary at that point, but the daughter told me how the desperate missionary went afield, learned the use of the magic employed in the death prayer, and secretly made the death prayer for the challenging kahuna. The kahuna had not expected such a turning of the tables and had taken no precautions against attack. He died in three days.
The survivors of the flock rushed back to church, and the diary resumed with the glad tidings of the return. But the missionary was never the same. He attended the next conclave of the mission body in Honolulu, and said or did things not recorded in any available records. He may only have answered scandalized charges. In any event, he was churched and never again attended a conclave. But the Hawaiians understood. A princess gave him a strip of land a half mile wide and running from the breakers to the high mountains. On this land at the beach where Captain Cook landed and was killed hardly fifty years earlier, there stood the remains of one of the finest native temples in the land—the one from which the gods were paraded each year over the road that is still called “The Pathway of the Gods.” Farther back from the beach, but on the same grant of land, stood the little church of coral stone which the natives had built with their own hands and in which his daughter was to preside as minister sixty years later.
At the beginning of my fourth year in the Islands I moved to Honolulu, and after getting settled, took time out to visit the Bishop Museum, a famous institution founded by Hawaiian Royalty and endowed to support a school for children of Hawaiian blood.
The purpose of my visit was to try to find someone who could give me an authoritative answer to the question of the kahunas which had plagued me for so long. My bump of curiosity had grown too large to be comfortable, and I harbored an angry desire to have something done about it one way or another, definitely and decisively. I had heard that the curator of the museum had spent most of his years delving into things Hawaiian, and I had the hope that he would be able to give me the truth, coldly, scientifically and in an acceptable form.
At the entrance I met a charming Hawaiian woman, a Mrs. Webb, who listened to my blunt statement of the reason for my visit, studied me for a moment, then said, “You’d better go up and see Dr. Brigham. He’s in his office on the next floor.”
Dr. Brigham turned away from his desk, where he was studying some botanical material through a glass, to examine me with friendly blue eyes. He was a great scientist, an authority in his chosen field, recognized and respected in the British Museum for the perfection of his studies and printed reports on them. He was eighty-two, huge, bald and bearded. He was heavy with the weight of an incredibly varied mass of scientific knowledge—and he looked like Santa Claus. (See Who’s Who in America for 1922-1923 for his record, under William Tufts Brigham.)
I took the chair which he offered, introduced myself, and went swiftly to the questions which had brought me to him. He listened attentively, asked questions about the things I had heard, the places where I had lived and the people I had come to know.
He countered my questions about the kahunas with questions as to what my conclusions had been. I explained that I was quite convinced that it was all superstition or suggestion, or poison, but admitted that I needed someone who spoke with the authority of real information to help me quiet the nagging little doubt in the back of my mind.
Some time passed. Dr. Brigham almost annoyed me with his questions. He seemed to forget the purpose of my visit and lose himself in the exploration of my background. He wanted to know what I had read, where I had studied, and what I thought about a dozen matters which were quite aside from the question I had raised.
I was beginning to grow impatient when he suddenly fixed me with so stern a glance that I was startled. “Can I trust you to respect my confidence?” he asked. “I have a little scientific standing which I wish to preserve,” he smiled suddenly, “even in the vanity of my old age.”
I assured him that what he might say would go no farther, then waited.
He thought for a moment, then said slowly: “For forty years I have been studying the kahunas to find the answer to the question you have asked. The kahunas do use what you have called magic. They do heal. They do kill. They do look into the future and change it for their clients. Many were impostors, but some were genuine. Some even used this magic to fire-walk across lava overflows barely cooled enough to carry the weight of a man.” He broke off abruptly as if fearing he had said too much. Leaning back in his swivel chair he watched me moodily through half-closed eyes.
I am not sure, but I believe I muttered “thanks.” I half rose from my chair and sank back on it. I must have stared at him blankly for an idiotically long time. My trouble was that there was no wind left in my sails. He had knocked the underpinning from under the world I had braced almost to solidity over a period of three years. I had confidently expected an official negation of the kahunas, and I had told myself that I would be able to wash my hands completely of them and their superstitions. Now I was back in the trackless swamp, and, not up to my ankles as before, but suddenly sunk to the tip of my curious nose in the mire of mystery.
I may have made inarticulate noises, I have never been quite sure, but finally I managed to find my tongue.
“Fire-walking?” I asked uncertainly. “Over hot lava? I never heard of that.…” I swallowed a few times, then managed to ask, “How do they do it?”
Dr. Brigham’s eyes popped open very wide, then narrowed down while his bushy brows climbed toward his bald dome. His white beard began to twitch, and suddenly he leaned back in his chair and let out a roar of laughter which shook the walls. He laughed until tears rolled down his pink cheeks.
“Forgive me,” he gasped at last, placing a placating hand on my knee while he wiped his eyes. “The reason your question struck me as so funny was that I have been trying for forty years to answer it for myself—without success.”
With that the ice was broken. Although I had a baffled and hollow feeling at being tossed back into the middle of the very problem I had thought to escape, we fell to talking. The old scientist had also been a teacher. He had a gift of simplicity and directness in discussing even the most complicated subjects. I did not realize it until weeks afterward, but in that hour he placed his finger on me, claiming me as his own, and like Elijah of old, preparing to cast his mantle across my shoulders before he took his departure.
He told me later that he had long watched for a young man to train in the scientific approach and to whom he could entrust the knowledge he had gained in the field—the new and unexplored field of magic. Often on a warm night when he sensed my feeling of discouragement over the seeming impossibility of learning the secret of magic, he would say:
“I’ve hardly made a beginning. Just because I’ll never know the answer is no reason why you will not. Just think what has happened in my time. The science of Psychology has been born! We know the subconscious! Look at the new phenomena being observed and reported month by month by the Societies for Psychical Research. Keep everlastingly at it. No telling when you may find a clue or when some new discovery in psychology will help you to understand why the kahunas observed their various rites, and what went on in their minds while they observed them.”
At other times he would open his heart to me. He was a great soul, and still simple. He had an almost childish yearning to know the secret of the kahunas and he was getting very old. The sand was almost sure to run out before success came. The kahunas had failed to get their sons and daughters to take the training and learn the ancient lore that was handed down under vows of inviolable secrecy only from parent to child. Those who could heal instantly or who could fire-walk had been gone since the year 1900—many of them old and dear friends. He was left almost alone in a field in which little was left to observe. Moreover, he was a little bewildered. It seemed so absurd to think that he had been able to watch the kahunas work, had become their friend, had fire-walked under their protection—and still had not been able to get the slightest inkling as to how they worked their magic except in the matter of the death prayer, which, as he explained, was not true magic, but a very advanced phenomenon of spiritualism.
Sometimes we would sit in the darkness with the mosquito punk burning on the lanai and he would go over various points in review, to be sure that I had remembered. Often he would say in ending:
“I have been able to prove that none of the popular explanations of kahuna magic will hold water. It is not suggestion, nor anything yet known in psychology. They use something that we have still to discover, and this is something inestimably important. We simply must find it. It will revolutionize the world if we can find it. It will change the entire concept of science. It would bring order into conflicting religious beliefs.…
“Always keep watch for three things in the study of this magic. There must be some form of consciousness back of, and directing, the processes of magic. Controlling the heat in fire-walking, for example. There must also be some form of force used in exerting this control, if we can but recognize it. And last, there must be some form of substance, visible or invisible, through which the force can act. Watch always for these, and if you can find any one, it may lead to the others.”
And so, gradually, I took over the materials which he had collected in this strange new field. I became thoroughly familiar with all the negations, all the speculations and all the verifications. I began the slow work of trying to find remaining kahunas and do what I could to learn from them the Secret. Upon hearing a story of what some kahuna had done, my invariable question would be, “Who told you that?” I would begin tracing back, and sometimes I would be able to find the person who had been the subject of the tale and get from him all the smallest details of what had been done. The greatest difficulty was to get an introduction to the kahuna who had exerted the magic. Usually this was utterly impossible. The kahunas had learned by hard knocks to shun the whites, and no Hawaiian dared to bring a white friend to them without their permission—and that was almost never given.
Four years after I met Dr. Brigham, he died, leaving me with a weight on my heart and with the frightened realization that I was perhaps the only white man in the world who knew enough to continue the investigation of the native magic which was vanishing so rapidly. And if I failed, the world might lose for all time a workable system that would be endlessly valuable to humanity if it could be recovered.
With Dr. Brigham I had been watching hopefully for some new discovery in Psychology or in the field of Psychic Science, and, discouraging as it was, had been forced to admit that both sciences showed signs of becoming stalemate.
With over a hundred recognized scientists engaged over a period of half a century in Psychical Research, not a single theory had been evolved which would explain even such simple things as telepathy or suggestion, to say nothing of ectoplasm, apports and materialization.
More years passed. I ceased to make progress and, in 1931, admitted defeat. It was then that I left the Islands.
In California I continued half-heartedly to watch for any new psychological discovery that might again open up the problem. None came. Then, in 1935, quite unexpectedly, I awakened in the middle of the night with an idea that led directly to the clue which was eventually to give the answer.
If Dr. Brigham had been alive he certainly would have joined me in a scarlet flush of embarrassment. Both of us had overlooked a clue so simple and so obvious that it had continually passed unnoticed. It was the pair of spectacles pushed up on the forehead while we hunted for hours unable to find them.
The idea that had struck me in the middle of the night was that the kahunas must have had names for the elements in their magic. Without such names they could not have handed down their lore from one generation to the next. As the language they used was Hawaiian, the words must have appeared in that language. And, as the missionaries began making the Hawaiian-English dictionary as early as 1820—the one still in use—and as they certainly had not known enough about the native magic to translate correctly any names used to describe that magic, it was obvious that any attempted translations would have been either faulty or entirely wrong.
The Hawaiian language is made up of words which have been built from short root words. A translation of the roots will usually give the original meaning of a word. Presto! I would find the words used by the kahunas in recorded chants and prayers, and make a fresh translation of them from the roots.
On the following morning I recalled the fact that everyone agreed in Hawaii that the kahunas had taught that man had two spirits or souls. No one paid the slightest attention to this patently erroneous belief. How could a man have two souls? What absurdity! What dark superstition! … So I hunted up the two words naming the two souls. As I suspected, they were both there in my copy of the old dictionary which had come off the presses in 1865, some years after the discovery of mesmerism, during the early days of Psychical Research, and a full two decades before the birth of our infant science of Psychology.
The dictionary said:
“U-ni-hi-pi-li, The leg and arm bones of a person. Unihipili was the name of one class of gods called akuanoho; aumakua was another; they were the departed spirits of deceased persons.
“U-ha-ne, The soul, the spirit of a person. The ghost or spirit of a deceased person. Note: The Hawaiians supposed that men had two souls each; that one died with the body, the other lived on, either visible or invisible as might be, but had no more connection with the person deceased than his shadow. These ghosts could talk, cry, complain, etc. There were those supposed to be skillful in entrapping or catching them.” *
It was apparent that the earnest missionaries had consulted the Hawaiians to ascertain the meanings of these two words, and had been given conflicting information which they had done their best to order and include in the translations.
The outstanding feature of the unihipili was that it seemed to be connected with the arms and legs very definitely, and besides that it was a spirit. The uhane was also a spirit, but it was a ghost who could talk even if it were hardly more than a shadow in connection with the “person of the deceased.”
As the first word was longer and had the most roots, I began work on it to get a root translation. There were seven roots in the word, counting overlaps of letters, and some of these roots had as many as ten meanings. My task was to sort meanings to see if I could find any that would apply to the magic used by the kahunas.
Here was my haystack before me, and all I needed to find was the needle. It seemed rather promising. I remembered Dr. Brigham’s injunction to watch always for the consciousness involved in fire-walking and other magic, for the force used to produce the magical result, and for the visible or invisible physical substance through which the force might act. Yes, I would try to find three needles. (And I did find them eventually, the first two before the year was out, and the last one six years later.)
What I found immediately, and almost before lunch time, was the subconscious, but not as we know it. The subconscious of the magicians was twice as large and three times as natural. I was so surprised by the discovery that I went down for the full count of ten. It was incredible that the kahunas could have known the subconscious, but the evidence was undeniable.
Here is how the roots described the spirits named in the words unihipili and uhane:
Both are spirits (root u), and this root means to grieve, so both spirits were able to grieve.
But the root hane in uhane means to talk, so the spirit named in this word could talk. As only human beings talk, this spirit must be a human one. That raises the question as to the nature of the other spirit. It can grieve, and so can animals. It may not be a man who can talk, but at least it is an animal-like spirit that can grieve. The uhane cried and talked weakly. In the dictionary note it was said to be considered nothing more than a shadow connected with the deceased person. Evidently it was a weak and not very substantial talking spirit.
Unihipili, with an alternate spelling of “uhinipili,” gives more roots to translate. Combined we get: A spirit which can grieve but may not be able to talk (u); it is something that covers up something else and hides it, or is itself hidden as by a cover or veil (uhi); it is a spirit which accompanies another, is joined to it, is sticky, and sticks or adheres to it. It attaches itself to another and acts as its servant (pili); it is a spirit which does things secretly, silently and very carefully, but does not do certain things because it is afraid of offending the gods (nihi); it is a spirit that can protrude from something, can rise up from that something, and which can also draw something out of something, as a coin from a pocket. It desires certain things most earnestly. It is stubborn and unwilling, disposed to refuse to do as told. It tinctures or impregnates or mixes completely with something else. It is connected with the slow dripping of water or with the manufacture and exudation of nourishing water, as the “breast water” or milk of the mother (u in its several meanings). (Note: Later on I was to learn that water is the symbol of the human electro-vital force, so there was one needle. The two conscious spirits of man are two-thirds of the other needle. But the third is only hinted at in the meaning of “sticky” or “to adhere.”)
To summarize, the kahuna idea of the conscious and subconscious seems to be, judging from the root meanings of the names given them, a pair of spirits closely joined in a body which is controlled by the subconscious and used to cover and hide them both. The conscious spirit is more human and possesses the ability to talk. The grieving subconscious weeps tears, dribbles water and otherwise handles the vital force of the body. It does its work with secrecy and silent care, but it is stubborn and disposed to refuse to obey. It refuses to do things when it fears the gods (holds a complex or fixation of ideas), and it intermingles or tinctures the conscious spirit to give the impression of being one with it. (The use made in magic of the “sticky” element as a symbol, and the ability to “protrude” or to “draw something out of something else” will become clear later.)
Given this certainty that the kahunas had known for thousands of years all the psychology we had come to know in the last few years, I became quite sure that their ability to perform feats of magic stemmed from their knowledge of important psychological factors not yet discovered by us.
It soon became apparent that, in naming the elements of psychology and placing in their word roots symbol meanings to point to related elements, the kahunas of the dawn days had done a superb job. The only great stumbling block was the fact that the symbol words stood for elements whose nature I could not imagine.
Searching feverishly for the meanings of these symbols, I returned to the reports on Psychic Phenomena and, as I checked each type of phenomena in turn, endeavored to locate its counterpart symbol in the roots of the terms used by the kahunas.
After a few months it became plain that I had gone as far as I could in the first work of matching the more complete psychology with the external rites of kahuna magic. I decided that what I had found was too valuable to keep from the world, and forthwith wrote a report on my findings and the kahuna lore in general. *
The English publication brought me many letters. I had placed my name and address in the back of the report and had requested any reader who could offer pertinent information for the study to write to me. Almost no really helpful information arrived, although hundreds of letters contained speculative material and guesses.
Then, over a year after the publication of that book, there came a letter from a retired English journalist. His name was William Reginald Stewart, and what he had to say was very much to the point.
In my report, he had been greatly interested to find that I was describing the same magic that he, in his younger days, had found being used by a certain Berber tribe in the Atlas Mountains of North Africa. Also, to his surprise, he had found that the Hawaiian words used by the kahunas were the same, except for dialect differences, as those which had been used to describe the magic in Africa. He had, after reading my book, hunted up his yellowed notes and compared words which he had been told belonged to a secret magical language. The Hawaiian word kahuna appeared as quahuna among the Berbers, and the Hawaiian term for woman kahuna was changed from kahuna wahini to quahini. The word for a god was nearly the same in both languages—akua and atua—as were a number of other words we checked.
As the Berber tribes spoke a language not at all related to the Polynesian dialects, the discovery of the similarity of the magic and the language used to describe it offered definite proof that the two peoples had either come from the same original stock or had been in contact with each other in ancient times.
Stewart had heard tales of this Berber tribe and their magician while exploring for oil signs for a Dutch company, and corresponding for the Christian Science Monitor as a free lance writer and authority on North Africa. Taking a vacation, he hired guides and set out to find the tribe. Eventually he did find it and met the magician, a woman. By dint of much persuasion he got himself adopted and made her blood son so that he could become eligible to receive training in the secret magic. The magician, whose name was Lucchi, had a daughter aged seventeen who was just beginning to take the training, so Stewart was allowed to join in.
The training began with her explanations of legendary tribal history, in which it was related that twelve tribes of the people having kahunas, once lived in the Sahara Desert when it was still a green and fertile land of flowing rivers. The rivers dried up, and the tribes moved into the valley of the Nile. While there they used their magic to help cut, carry and place the building stones of the Great Pyramid. At that time they were rulers in Egypt and topped all others because of their magic.
The account continued with the recital of how it was foreseen that a time of intellectual darkness was due in the world, and that the secret of their magic was in danger of being lost. To preserve it, for it was as precious as it was secret, the twelve tribes decided to hunt for isolated lands to which they might go to preserve the “Secret” (Huna) until the time was ripe for its return to the world. Eleven of the tribes, after making a psychic exploration and finding the islands of the Pacific empty and waiting, moved off by way of a canal to the Red Sea, and thence along either the African coast or over to India and thence into the Pacific. After many years they became “lost” in so far as the twelfth tribe was concerned. This twelfth tribe had, for some unstated reason, decided to go north and settle in the Atlas Mountain fastnesses. They had lived there for centuries, always preserving the Secret and using its magic, but as modern times arrived, the kahunas had died out until only one remained. She was the teacher, Lucchi.
Stewart found the Berber tribe hospitable, clean, very intelligent, and in possession of a fine old culture. They spoke a conglomerate language peculiar to the Berber tribes, but when it came to teaching the ancient lore of magic, another language had to be employed because in it alone could be found the proper words to name the elements in man which made magic possible.
The young Englishman was already hampered by language difficulties, having to match his French with that of some of the Berbers, and having to delve endlessly to arrive at a proper understanding of what words in the so-called “Secret” language might mean.
Little by little he learned the basic philosophy of magic. His teacher made many demonstrations of her magic in healing and in the control of birds, beasts, serpents and weather. All was going well indeed, and the theoretical work had been covered and its practical application was about to follow. Then, on a misty afternoon, two raiding parties in the valley below the Berber camp began shooting at each other. A stray bullet struck Lucchi over the heart and she died almost instantly.
Left without a teacher, and with Lucchi’s daughter knowing no more than he did, Stewart’s training came to an abrupt end. He gathered up his notes, took leave of his blood brothers and sisters, and returned to his old rounds.
It was thirty years later that he read my report and recognized the Hawaiian words I mentioned as the same words–aside from dialect changes—which he had preserved so long in his notes.
This linked up the Hawaiian kahunas with North Africa and possibly with Egypt. Hawaiian legends contained the oral history of the people. In these it is told that the Hawaiians once lived in a home land far away. They saw by psychic sight the land of Hawaii and set out to find it. Their journey commenced at the “Red Sea of Kane,” which fits neatly into the idea that they came from Egypt by way of the Red Sea, as it is called to this day in at least three languages. The history gives few details of the journey from that place on, except to tell how progress was made from land to land in large double canoes. When the eight unoccupied islands of Hawaii were found by the scouts who went ahead, they returned to the nearest islands to the west to fetch the others of the tribe who had remained there to rest. Trees, plants and animals were brought on subsequent voyages as the tribe moved in and took up its home in Hawaii. The voyages to the outside islands stopped for a long time and complete isolation reigned. Then the royal blood ran out and a voyage to the other islands was made to find and bring back a prince of the high blood. He brought with him his favorites and a kahuna. This kahuna, if we can credit the account, introduced into Hawaii a contaminated form of kahunaism which contained little magic, and commanded idol worship and temple building. This contamination remained, with its idols and temples, even though kahunas possessing knowledge of the workable and practical magic continued their work and preserved the Secret in almost uncontaminated form.
Attempts by scholars to trace Hawaiian origins through language and customs have been none too successful. There are eleven tribes of Polynesians, all speaking dialects of the same language, but some having words, customs and beliefs easily identified as of Indian origin. On the other hand Polynesian words may be found scattered all the way from the Pacific to the Near East. Madagascar has them, indicating the early contact with a people who spoke the Polynesian language. Even in Japan may be found Polynesian words and ideas. In India a number of the ideas connected with the kahuna magic are to be seen, greatly changed and now of no practical use, but still pointing in the same general direction.
With the invaluable help of Stewart, and by making full use of what he had learned in North Africa, I was able to continue the research. Little by little the “Secret” was reconstructed as its symbols and practices were matched against the observations made of the external acts o rites of the kahunas by Dr. Brigham and, in a lesser degree, by me.
It would, however, have been utterly impossible to grasp the meanings of words and the significance of rites, had modern Psychology and Psychical Research not already made certain basic discoveries upon which to rest fuller structures. Religions also played a valuable part because in them I found the battered remains of the original Huna philosophy. These remains, misshapen as they were, gave hints as to where to look next for certain bits of information, and helped to verify other uncertain materials as they came to light.
Soon after the publication of my report in England I had entered into a correspondence with a priest of the Church of England who had written me upon reading my book, and who was carrying on psychological studies of mental and spiritual healing. His interest in the kahuna lore grew, and shortly after my contact with Stewart, the clergyman and a group of his associates decided to try out some of the healing magic of the kahunas. This they did, after much writing back and forth. They were especially successful in obsessional cases. The family of a patient who was healed offered to supply money for extensive experimental work, and the clergyman and three of his group made the journey to California to spend some time with me in discussing the best ways to proceed. They left me, all plans complete even to a blueprint of the building to be erected. But on their way back to England, World War II broke out and the plans were dropped. With the war over, the funds are no longer available, and the healing group is scattered.
Such experimental work as has been done has gone far to prove that the reconstruction of the Huna system is sufficiently complete to be workable in the hands of individuals owning certain natural talents and able to give sufficient time to learning to use the system. Steady and continued practice under proper guidance seems to be the main thing needed.
In Hawaii there is little or no dependable literature covering the kahunas. What little there is available in books and articles and pamphlets, misses entirely the basic mechanisms of which I report. Each writer contradicts the others, and the muddle is never resolved.
My own studies and those of Dr. Brigham are almost unknown in the Islands, and copies of my first report are kept carefully locked away in the library in Honolulu, being brought out only if requested by one who knows that it is there. Because of misconceptions and because there was formerly a very real danger in the “death prayer,” the general attitude of the residents is one which encourages denial of kahuna magic, or, failing that, a policy of letting sleeping dogs lie.
With these introductory remarks, I will now proceed with the task of presenting the Huna system with all its details, and with the available proofs of its correctness as a workable set of scientific facts.
* In the pronunciation of Hawaiian words, the sound of the vowels is that used in Latin. A as in father; E as long a in ale; I as long e in enough; Ai as long i in isle; U as oo in moon; O as long o in over; W almost like v. Uhane is pronounced oo-hah-nay. Unihipili is pronounced oo-nee-hee-pee-lee. Aumakua is pronounced Ah-oo-mah-koo-ah.
* RECOVERING THE ANCIENT MAGIC, published by Rider & Co., London, 1936.