Alternate Perceptions Magazine, June 2022
Encounters with the Unknown
Attacks of the Hawaiian akualele
by: Brent Raynes
Before their podcast on June 24, 2021, my friends Tonya and Joey Madia, who host Into The Outer Realms, had announced in advance that their guest would be a Native Hawaiian storyteller, author and actor named Robert Lopaka Kapanui, who authored a book entitled Mysteries of Honolulu.
Since in previous years (and again quite recently) I had researched and connected with others about the very mysterious akualele light phenomenon of Hawaii, which I was informed meant “flying god,” I wondered what this man might know about the subject. Years ago, I was informed by a Hawaiian researcher named Kalani Hanohano that the light can be something quite dark. “The akualele are devices manufactured by kahuna sorcery whose main function is to harm or kill another human being,” he told me, adding that it is a “supernaturally generated light phenomenon.”
The Madia’s kindly reached out prior to their show that if anyone had any questions to feel free sending them on in. Naturally, I wondered what their Hawaiian guest, who was steeped in mysteries and supernatural tales of Hawaii, might have to say on the subject of the akualele.
I was certainly not disappointed as he claimed he had actually witnessed the phenomenon personally!
“The first one I saw when I was 9-years-old involved our next door neighbors, a Portuguese family. The daughter Debbie was my friend. We all played together as kids and one night there was screaming and yelling; shouting at their house and you could hear pounding on the floor and the walls and it went on all night. The following afternoon after school, on the way home, I saw Debbie and I asked her what happened. We stopped at the store and got a couple of sodas and Fritos and she said, ‘Once a year, the akualele comes and it finds my father and it circles in the sky three times,’ and she said after the third time ‘it comes straight down to where my father is and it jumps on his shoulders and he has to fight it the entire night because if he doesn’t it will take him.’
“And so without thinking, the following year I just completely forgot about it. I heard them outside in the yard and I hear Debbie’s mother screaming. ‘No, no, no! Go back!’. And so me and my parents run out of the house and we look up and there it is. Huge red flaming ball of fire and at the end it looked like it had – I don’t know if it was two horns – but it was sort of like this and just made this buzzing sound.” Kapanui made a circular motion three times with his right hand, while imitating the sound and then making the sound again demonstrated a downward motion.
“I remember Debbie’s father running into the house and I remember hitting the house and the tiles just going [made a sissling type noise] and the whole night you could hear him running around the house pounding the walls and he had to keep doing it until sunrise.”
Kapanui described how the akualele attacks had begun. When Debbie’s father and his two brothers were young boys, an old Kahuna man lived up the road from them. The man lived in a humble one bedroom cottage with his dog. He had a well-manicured yard and nobody bothered him and he seemingly had never bothered anyone else. That is, until one day the three young boys, having heard the rumors about the old man being a Kahuna and not believing that he really was, jumped over the man’s fence, peed in the dog’s water bowl, and smeared excrement over the dog. Then they left. The following afternoon, Debbie described how her father and mother and his two brothers were sitting on the steps of their old home. The old Hawaiian man walks down to their driveway and puts a bowl down on their grass and begins to pray and chant in Hawaiian. The mother realizing what was happening exclaimed, “No, no, no! What did we do?! We didn’t do anything wrong! Stop, stop, stop!’ The old man then stated, ‘Your three sons they made trouble to my dog. They left their urine in his bowl and then all over his skin, his body, his excrement. From now on, once a year, I send them akualele, all three, and they have to fight it the whole night. If they don’t fight it it will take them.’ The parents are begging but it is too late. So Debbie said from that time every year the father and the two uncles have had to do that.”
Kapanui added, “In 2008, we had a ghost tour at a very old cemetery on the north shore and we’re just walking into it and I kind of glanced up like that and there was a green akualele coming over the trees. It was green, long tail at the end, flying very slowly. But you could see something turning around in the front part of the akualele. Loud buzzing sound. So when I saw it I said to myself, ‘I pray for the one who this is intended for and I hope they survive the night.”
“The way an akualele is made is if someone around you completely hates you and you absentmindedly leave out your fingernails, your toenails, your hair, the stuff you blow into the Kleenex...your personal feminine stuff … that’s how it’s made. In some akualele practices they also need a dead body. But it depends on the practitioner.”
I wrote to Kapanui later about if there was anything one could do if under attack. He replied, “You have to know who sent it so you can send it back.” He also added, “The akualele are very specific to its victim. You can’t jump in front of it to sacrifice yourself.” I understand that another Kahuna may be sought to help in such a matter, but it obviously doesn’t work for everyone based on what happened with his neighbors back during his childhood.
Robert Lopaka Kapanui is a well-known and respected Hawaiian storyteller and tour guide to haunted locations. There are many YouTube videos of him sharing his many mesmerizing stories. Here’s one called Hawaii’s Most Haunted Nu’uanu Pali: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fDJ6Z93Eqnk
To see what I’ve written about the Hawaiian akualele in previous issues, click here: