Thinking about Nightmarchers

On my bike ride this morning through the misty windy backroads I got to thinking about nightmarchers. They are warrior-spirits-- hungry ghosts who carry their ghost-lights through Waipio valley, along the Puna coastline, on the plains below Mauna Kea (where I was riding my bike-- safely in the daytime.) I know people who have seen them. Which is dangerous. I don't want to meet them. Because they eat you.

I've heard that if you lie on your face as they pass, you'll be safe. But the best protection is to have one of them speak for you--usually an ancestor.
So isn't that reassuring? You're safe, as long as you're blood-related to the vampiric night warriors.
Actually, there's on exception. If one of them knows you, or for whatever reason speaks on your behalf, you'll be safe. Then I guess you're introduced all around, given a night-beer, and sent on your way.

Today on my bike ride this idea was stressing me out. Not because I'm really worried that I'm going to stumble into nighttime monsters in my waking life, but because I have the same problem in my daily interactions with people who live here.

If you don't have an introduction, you are invisible. If you come into a town meeting or a school event or a church group and you don't know anyone there, prepare to be eaten alive.
No one will talk to you. No one will see you. You will want to die. You will leave early, go home, eat chocolate, and blog your woes away. They will talk about you after you leave. If you listen by the door, you can hear the audible sigh of relief that you've gone away and the explosive-- "who WAS that??" whispered all around.

Our first visit to the voyaging canoes was like that-- our friends who invited us to come down and help out weren't there when we arrived. We said hello to the supervising aunties, the college student crew members, the security guards, and waited in the shadows in the warehouse. They all stepped around and over us-- no eye contact, no response. It was eerie. And it went on for hours-- we wandered around the canoes and the warehouse and the dock, trying to stay out of the way, trying not to be demanding or nosy, trying to radiate quiet peaceful friendliness-- but in the end when our friends didn't come back, we scurried away.

But if, however, you have been brought or recognized by someone, you will be clapped on the back, introduced all around, hugged and kissed and questioned, drawn here and there, shown off, plied with victuals and leave rosy and full 12 hours later.

But is that unique to Hawaii? I doubt it. Probably anywhere you go as a stranger people won't know how to talk to you. I've probably stared at Different people in the grocery store, and not known how to introduce myself to a neighbor without seeming condescending or forward-- I've probably been the unwelcoming in-group in Maryland, California, Utah, Japan...

But in Hawaii though they have the good sense to warn you through legend: you better have a friend wherever you go, or you just might get eaten.


  1. why are there no comments on this one.....I sooooooooooooo aggree. When we left Hawaii one other time (I'll tell you why laters)we somehow got to Payson, Utah. I was preg with Hina and we just got Tomasi's boy of 13 from Tonga. I told the kids that they were to pretend that they were welcoming all these strangers to THEIR OWN WARD when we would go to a new ward. We would go up to any of these folks and introduce ourselves....we were loved in all the wards we passed through and lived in. that came from moving arround all my to your story of the night marchers....soooooooo very well written and I've heard them in Punaluu Valley.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Fresh Grief: How to Help When People are Grieving

Malihini 101

The First Year of Suicide Grief: Some Advice for Pain