If you talk frequently with Hawaiians and Hawaii residents, you’ll soon hear stories of Night Marchers. These feared spirits are said to appear in dark, ancient areas of the islands. But what are Night Marchers, and will you encounter them on your vacation? Let’s discover the stories of these Hawaiian phantoms.
What are Night Marchers
Night Marchers are the spirits of ancient warriors who roam parts of Hawaii at night. Some say that their job was to protect royalty and high chiefs; some say they are a group of warriors who died in battle.
Most people will tell you that the Night Marchers are recognizable by both sight and sound. They’ll come with the sounds of drums and the blowing of a conch shell, along with gods or symbols of gods. You may hear feet stomping or see the glow of their torches.
Night marchers differ from Menehune, who were little people and builders who are said to still work through the night in Hawaii.
An encounter with a Night Marcher in Hawaii could mean death. And many stories you’ll hear do involve someone who died after seeing Night Marchers.
But there are ways to avoid the fate. Most people will hide when they first hear Night Marchers. But if you encounter them, you could be spared if your ancestry aligns with a marcher.
If your bloodline won’t save you, lie face down on the ground, avoid eye contact, and remain still and quiet. Do not respond even if you feel a nudge. Some say you’ll have better luck if you undress before lying down. The goal, lore says, is to appear so mad that the Hawaii night marchers pass by you.
Night Marchers Hawaii: More than a Ghost Story
My new office location in an ancient valley is said to be a favorite of Hawaiian spirits, and I’ve been warned of Hawaii Night Marchers.
People share these warnings in a hushed tone with big eyes and an almost smile. But they also have the same tone as people in New Orleans speaking of voodoo: not exactly believing but certainly not willing to risk offense just in case.
Hawaii certainly is filled with spirits and enough conflict to support legends. I’m fully willing to leave open the possibility that some of them may pass through my new basement office on their way from the mountains to the sea.
It does bother me a little, though, to see the legend treated as a “ghost story.” It seems to trivialize the idea that many, many Hawaiians have died on these islands, some at the hands of invaders but many thousands more by the diseases they carried.
Some estimates place the number of Native Hawaiians living on the islands at nearly a million in 1778. That population plummeted to only 22,600 by 1919. Surely, this is a tragedy of a different sort than the fabrications told around campfires to frighten youngsters.
For now, I may settle for keeping ti leaves in my office. I’ve heard they can serve as a talisman to ward off the Night Marchers in Hawaii, but people also use them to wrap offerings or prepare food. Their many applications seem to suit my multi-dimensional and misty feelings about Night Marchers.