Kahuna are spiritual leaders of guidance who maintain the spiritual connections between the kanaka maoli and the akua Wisdom of sacred healing, education, and skills have been handed down generation after generatio Ka huna – literally the secret Kahu na – a guardian or keeper of something Interpreted as meaning the guardian of the secret
Every high ranking ali`i had kahuna, priests or experts as advisors Kahuna nui – One of the chief advisors to the ruling chief and consulted with him on matters of importance such as the proper time to wage war Kahuna pule – Could communicate with the spirits and only they could perform ceremonies or rituals in the heiau Kahuna were also the “experts” of any profession. Many other types of kahuna who were not priests also lived in the ahupua`a. These intelligent and knowledgeable men were highly skilled in their fields
Educated and trained professionals or kahuna to head almost every endeavor The apprenticeship is a long, ritualized process and the kahunas would read omens around the birth of a new born baby, such as the gathering of birds around the birth hut, as an indication of the potential for training. At a very young age, boys were sent to live with the kahuna. They remained with their kahuna for many years while being trained in his field of expertise Under the guidance of the kahuna, the young boys mastered the skills and knowledge special to their kahuna After they finished their training, they would become kahuna themselves This is how the knowledge, skills and traditions of each profession were passed on from one generation to the next Each student had his own rituals and kapus and would only be ready when the gods deemed so after around four years of intensive and demanding study and constant testing.
Diagnosis and treatment were guided by the gods. The kahuna lapa`au would call upon numerous deities for their assistance Kahuna la`au lapa`au – specialists trained in specific areas of healing. Treated people’s illnesses and used plants for medicine. He would select and train young haumāna, gather and process herbs for medicine and prescribes medicine to his patients Kahuna lā`au lapa`au examined the patient and either diagnosed him/her or sent the person to a specialist who could diagnose the illness. Internal ailments were treated by the administration of herb mixtures The person sent by the kahuna to gather herbs for a patient’s medicine was alwayspaid by the patient’s family. If they failed to pay, and the gatherer grumbled, the medicine would do no good. A person who was paid couldn’t grumble without hurting himself.
Prophet - Foretold events to come Ali'i prophets were often part of a group that served the chiefs. Chiefs wanted a prophet close at hand at all times to consult in regard to wars, his health, his future in general and the future of his enemies. Some of these prophets only prophesied things the chief wanted to hear (would plant a thought), and the chief, hearing and wanting these things to happen, would act accordingly ('upu Often born with a gift - `ike pāpālua – “second sight” or “double knowledge”
Kahuna kilo hōkū – studies the stars Understood naviagtion and the seasonal changes Understood that the phases of the moon influenced crops, weather, fishing and the behavior of men
Reads the signs of the earth May study the clouds carefully and advise someone that it is not a good day for fishing
Deals with the use of spirits to cause illness or death to someone who has knowingly or unwittingly offended someone (either the kahuna himself or someone who sought his services) The kahuna `anā`ana would gain possession of maunu (bait), something closely associated with his victim such as hair, nails, or lole as they contained some of the mana of the person A kahuna `anā`anā who obtained such an item of his victim could gain control of the person’s mana and therefore the person To avoid `anā`anā, all possible maunu were carefully disposed of in secret It is said that this type of kahuna, could cause a cliff to crumble simply by concentrating or focusing their energy on it Note that even in old Hawai`i, the practice of praying to death was frowned upon by many kahuna and most of the people Though this type of kahuna learned the art of destruction, he was supposed to control his temper and leave vengeance to the gods
Note that the kanaka maoli truly believe in the power of words The very name of the place one lives can seemingly have influence on the individual The meaning of a person’s name can influence personality traits The full force of word power could be realized by the careful composition and rendering of prayers
KAHUNA• 1. Priest, sorcerer, magician, wizard, minister, expert in any profession (whether male or female); in the 1845 laws doctors, surgeons, and dentists were called kahuna• Kāhuna – plural of kahuna• Ka huna – secret• Kahu – guardian, keeper
KĀ HUNA• Kahuna nui – high priest, advisor• Kahuna pule – religious, spiritual kahuna Mo`okini Heiau in Kohala, Hawai`i
KAHUNA• Kahuna lā`au lapa`au – healing• Kahuna kāula – foretold events• Kahuna kilo hōkū – studies the stars• Kahuna kilokilo/kilo honua – reads signs in the earth• Kahuna `anā`anā – prayed people to death
KAHUNA LĀ `AU LAPA`AU• E uku `ia ke kanaka ki`i lā`au, he luhi kona i ka hele `ana The man who goes to fetch medicinal herbs is to be paid – the trip he makes is labor
`ŌLELO NO`EAU• I ka `ōlelo nō ke ola, i ka `ōlelo nō ka make Life is in speech; death is in speech Words can heal; words can destroy• Aia ke ola i ka waha; aia ka make i ka waha Life is in the mouth; death is in the mouth Spoken words can enliven; spoken words can destroy
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