By M.P. Pellicer | Stranger Than Fiction Stories
Poliʻahu Heiau sits on a bluff on the north bank of the Wailua River near Opaekaʻa Falls. In 1000 A.D. the first Tahitians migrated to Hawaii and may have landed at Wailua. They brought new forms of worship that included human sacrifice especially when preparations were being made for war.
In 1930, Juliet Rice Wichman along with her husband Fred, and the staff who lived there, would hear the sound of Hawaiian ghost soldiers in the dark of night.
They had moved only a few months before to their home Pihanakalani on their Wailua Ranch, which present day sits in the area of the Hindu Monastery off Kuamoo Road, Kauai.
The following is her account of a ghostly visitation of Hawaiian ghost soldiers marching to the ruins of Wailua Heiau. A Japanese worker named Taka came to her to report ghostly noises.
Less than a year ago, we moved into the home we had built on the Mauka bank of the Wailua River, and about four months later, our head cowboy came to us in a fever of excitement.
The legend tells that the Ghost Armies were ancient Hawaiian warriors fated to march, seeking their next battle. They come forth on the nights honoring Hawaiian gods Kāne, Kū, Lono, or on the nights of Kanaloa.
Their wraiths are seen throughout the islands at the sites where war was made. They are seen carrying torches, chanting and playing drums. They are sighted mostly at night, but have been seen during daylight hours, walking through buildings on an ancient path that does not exist anymore
If you witness a procession of Night Marchers it is advised you do not impede their progress or look them in the face. Just look away and let them pass. It is said the descendants of the Night Marchers will never be harmed by them.
After Juliet Rice Wichman told of this encounter, a Japanese worker named Taka came to her with his own ghostly encounter.
She described that he lived in a little cottage among "hau trees" at the edge of the river. He said that shortly after moving down to the river valley, he took his children to a neighbor's Christmas celebration. Friends returned with them to their home, and once they had settled in for the night they woke to the sound of drums and singing voices. Believing another celebration was in progress further up the valley, they set out with lanterns to find the celebrants.
As they got nearer the voices grew louder. They knew then it was Hawaiians because of the music and the timbre of the voices. They crossed the meadow until they came in sight of a great "male" stone. At the base there was a great gathering of Hawaiian women of all ages, dressed in native garb.
They thought it was a reenactment of an ancient ritual, so they just observed from the guava and hau bushes.
The older women sat and beat drums and calabashes while young women in ti-leaf skirts with leis around their necks danced the hula. This went on for some time, and then like a mist they faded away.
It was then they realized the figures were ghosts.
The next year on Christmas Eve, Taka and his friends gathered to wait hoping the women would reappear. They were disappointed and at 2 a.m. they returned to Taka's home. When they reached there, they heard the splash of a paddle. They crept to the river's edge and saw a white canoe disappear around the bend of the river.
The sound of drumming and singing coming from a distance reached their ears. They quietly retraced their steps and witnessed the same ceremony.
Later Juliet learned from one of her uncles, some information about the Wailua Valley as told by her grandfather who was a Hawaiian scholar. Where now the rice fields were cultivated, there was taro planting on a large scale. Near the old "male rock" a ceremony would be held every year. It was a fertility rite of great importance to the women. This ritual took place in the Makahiki season. She said that ancient Hawaiians had certain days of uneven length around the 23rd to the 28th of December, which were considered holy days.
Was what Maka and his friends witnessed a memory of the fertility ceremony at the taro patches?
Stranger Than Fiction Stories by M.P. Pellicer