In this article:
- Hawaiian folklore is full of beautiful stories explaining the natural phenomena all around us. However, not all Hawaiian folk tales are sweet and pleasant. Some of them are bone-chilling and lethal.
- The Nightmarchers are processions of ghostly warriors in Hawaiian folklore that will kill any mortal that crosses their path. However, there are a few things that you can do to avoid dying a brutal death at the hands of the Nightmarchers.
- We’re going to look at the different characteristics of the Nightmarchers, when and where you may be able to find them, and what to do if you’re unlucky enough to stumble upon them.
As most people are aware, Hawaii has one of the most unique and richest cultural traditions of any state in the United States. The native Hawaiians have rituals and stories that have been passed from generation to generation for hundreds of years. And, while many of these folk tales are beautiful, inspiring, and sweet, others are downright terrifying, such as the legend of the Nighmarchers.
The Nightmarchers are the ghosts of warriors that appear on certain nights of the year. They march all through the night and disappear just before sunrise. And, while these warriors vowed to protect their community while they were alive, in death, they will kill any mortal that comes across their paths (with a few exceptions). Oddly enough, many have claimed to have witnessed a procession of Nightmarchers and lived.
In this article, we’ll discuss the legend of the Nightmarchers, when and where you might come across them, what to do if you come across them, and how to recognize their coming. If you’re feeling brave, you could journey to Hawaii and try to find them; however, most native Hawaiians would probably warn against it.
What Are the Nightmarchers?
The Nightmarchers have been a part of Hawaiian lore for centuries. They are a procession of ghostly warriors, the spirits of warriors that have died. Their purpose is to protect the chief, who is believed to be a physical representation of the gods. Unfortunately, they are very good at discerning who is a threat to the chief and who is not considering that they’ll kill any common mortal that comes across their path.
According to legend, a procession of Nightmarchers will be accompanied by the sound of beating drums, heavy winds, rhythmic chanting, a cloud of mist or fog, heavy rain and high surf, lightning and thunder, and unusually bright torches. They stand in alternating rows of males and females, wielding archaic weapons and wearing traditional helmets and cloaks. Each of the warriors is tall and muscular and, at the front of the procession, one of the Hawaiian gods will be leading the troops. Most say that the Nightmarchers float a few inches off the ground; however, others have reported that they leave mysterious footprints behind.
Because they’re ghosts, Nightmarchers will walk in a perfectly straight line and will pass right through physical objects. There are reports of them walking right through closed doors and walls, entering people’s homes before exiting through the opposite wall. Unfortunately, you can tell that a procession of Nightmarchers has come through your home if you smell a musky “death-like” odor.
Nightwatchers are said to appear on nights honoring the Hawaiian gods Kāne, Kū, Lono, or Kanaloa. On these nights, they’re said to either rise from their burial sites or to rise up out of the ocean and march to some former battleground or to a sacred site.
There are a few specific places in Hawaii that are said to be frequented by Nightmarchers. One of these places is the famous Kamehameha battleground right off the Pali Highway in Oahu. Kualoa Ranch in Oahu, which is said to house the remains of hundreds of Hawaiian chiefs, is also believed to be a hotspot for Nightmarcher sightings (and a hotspot for Nightmarcher-caused car accidents).
Along the hardened banks of lava at La Perouse Bay (an area of the Ahihi-Kinau Natural Area Reserve in Maui), the Nightmarchers are said to wander in search of mischief. Also, the town of Kaunakakai, located on the island of Molokai, is rumored to be another hotspot for the Nightmarchers as the remains of an important temple sit within the town.
While the aforementioned locations are the most famous places to spot the Nightmarchers, these ghostly warriors have reportedly been spotted on each of the eight major islands of the Hawaiian archipelago.
So, no matter where in Hawaii you are, there’s a chance that you might see the Nightmarchers if you wander near a sacred site at night. In fact, there have even been reported sightings of the Nightmarchers escorting a dying person to the afterlife during the daytime.
Duck and Cover
So, if you come across a procession of Nightmarchers, there’s a pretty good chance that you’re going to die. And it’s not going to be a pleasant death. Some claim that the Nightmarchers will either stab and beat you to death with their weapons or that you’ll be incinerated by a magical bolt of lightning. However, apparently, there are some things you can do to save your own life if you come across these militant apparitions.
First of all, if you lie on the ground face-down on the ground completely motionless, the Nightmarchers will still be able to see you. However, by doing so, you’ll be showing the proper reverence, fear, and respect for the Nightmarchers and they may spare your life. Apparently, you may also be spared if the ghost of one of your ancestors is in the procession of Nightmarchers and they recognize you. When this happens, your ancestor will shout the word “Na’u” (which means “mine”) to the rest of the troop, indicating that they should not attack you.
More Hawaiian Folklore
The legend of the Nightmarchers is a spooky story that’s fun to tell around a campfire; however, it’s also representative of the rich oral tradition of Hawaiian culture. Despite the many invaders, missionaries, and other foreigners who made their way into Hawaiian society over the years, native Hawaiians have still been able to preserve their traditions and folklore.
If you want to learn more about Hawaiian folklore, there are plenty of written sources out there detailing their many legends. If you plan to visit Hawaii in the future, you can also look into taking a ghost tour to one of the sites that are reportedly frequented by Nightmarchers.
All in all, the best way to learn about Hawaiian culture (or any culture) is to speak to those who preserve its legacy. By visiting historical societies in Hawaii or even just talking to the locals, you might learn more about the Nightwatchers than the internet could ever teach you.