Kaua'i and Ni'ihau


Superstitions are very common in these Islands. The more a person retains superstitious beliefs and behaviors, the more the person retains his or her own cultural values.
The following superstitions reflect the great amount of cultural borrowing and changes.

Don't eat opihi when you are picking them at the beach. Bring them home and eat them there. The ocean will become angry with you and the waves will drag you into the sea. ( Recorded by Kimberly Williams Fall 75 class.
[This is an old Hawaiian belief, still retained by many of the older people].

THE IMU PIT                                                                          

It is or was a custom in the old days to cover a pit when a large pit was dug for a luau or for the cooking imu. Either the pit was covered or an object such as a log was placed into it. The pit was a symbol of the grave, or an omen of death so to leave it empty means it must be filled with a body. The body symbol could be a log of banana, or a stump of wood.  Informant: Mr. James Akina, Aiea, Oahu (Jan. 1963)

Don't whistle at night. This will call the spirits, ghosts and lost souls to you. Recorded by Kimberly Williams Fall 75 class. Informant was Victoriana Tangalin Manawiz). [This is another old pan-Pacific belief]

If you see a fireball, turn your shirt inside out and pull it over your head or else you will become lost. Recorded by Kimberly Williams. Fall 75 class. Informant was Victoriana Tangalin Manawiz. [The fireball motif is a Hawaiian belief while the behavior in this tale is not]

Don't say "come in" to anyone at your door at night because if there is a spirit form out there, you will be welcoming them into your house. ( Recorded by Kimberly Williams; Fall 75  Informant was Victoriana Tangalin Manawiz).

Don't throw things in the dark . You might hit a spirit. Recorded by Kimberly Williams Fall 75 class. Informant. Victoriana Tangalin Manawiz).

Stand under a banana flower and catch the first drop of dew on your tongue. If you do this, you will be able to see the spirit world. Recorded by Kimberly Williams. Fall 75 class. Informant was Victoriana Tangalin Manawiz). [Hawaiians also believe one can see spirits by rubbing the eye mucus of dogs  (
maka piapia) into their eyes. Dogs and horses are able to sense and see spirits]

Oldest daughter of a family had a pain in the thigh area. It was a bite mark that looked like tooth marks and therefore called the "devils bite". The remedy to this was to put Hawaiian salt in a bath. Person soaks in it and after a few days the mark disappears. Recorded by  John Gordiness , Fall 77 class. Informant was C. Kaneholani of Eleele.

Whenever people are out fishing and they happen to see turtles, the sign would mean that the sea will become very rough and they should return to shore. The person who sees the turtle without others seeing it can throw seaweed or something else to cause it to dive and thus disappear. this would stop the sea from becoming rough.  Pila Kikuchi Informant  Don E, Johnson. Feb. 12, 1963.

Taking any fruits, especially the banana, is an ill-omen for any fishing trip.  Pila Kikuchi Informant  Mrs. Kawena Pukui, Oahu Dec 1963.