Fireballs: Akualele 




Most everyone who lived in the Lawai plantation camp, either Filipino or Japanese had in their lifetime seen fireballs bouncing about in their village. Everyone that was interviewed could tell of someone other than themselves that had seen these fireballs. At every gathering of relatives, there was talk on local events and inevitably ghost stories of which fireballs are so characteristically associated.

In Japanese culture, fireballs, hionotama, are the souls of the dead, are highly respected and said to be frightening to see. In this camp, the frequency and the location of the fireballs can be traced to the manure pit which to the villagers have no direct bearing to the cause of these flaming spectacles. My uncle, a supervisor for Mcbryde Plantation said that on a clear night, the gang of workers were preparing the sugar cane fields to be planted with trimmed stalks of cane. While they were located on a hillside, a bright flash was seen and all looked up and saw a brillant blue light streak across the sky. The light was so bright that it illuminated the field. Some of the field workers said that the light came from the horizon, due south of their position, and flashed northward over the mountains and disappeared from their view.

The field workers believed that this was an unusual fireball or a flying saucer but from the various descriptions it must have been a meteor. No doubt this incident will be the cause for many new legends to be told by the field workers on the island of Kauai.

  Kalaheo: Person traveling toward Kalaheo at around 9:00 p.m. saw a bright blue light. It was the size of a basketball and floating through and between some trees. The fireball was heading eastward or on the Nawiliwili side of Kalaheo. The individual turned his car around and went back to Huleia where he came from. This occurred around 1923-1924.

Koloa: During the anniversary of my grandfather's funeral the relatives and friends were gathered in the house. As they were having a Buddhist memorial service, a fireball was seen flying between the two houses and was witnessed by at least three people. The fireball was said to be the spirit of my grandfather and his last trip to earth. Informant were family members of the Nishi family.

Koloa: In all cases fireballs are orange in color and speed by with a hissing sound. Some are large and some are small. Usually seen after someone's death, bright as moonlight. Only certain people will see it, other do not.

Mana: Fireballs are said to chase cars on Mana Road. Two fireballs which looked like headlights were coming down the road, but they veered off in opposite directions. Recorded by Darlene Rita. Fall 87 class.

Waimea-Kekaha area: The informant's grandmother was very ill. The grandfather went to the garage and as he opened the door the grandfather heard a sound of burning fire and wind. He saw a huge fireball whose tail was guessed at around 8 feet long. The fireball moved out of the garage, passed over the house and flew in the direction of Ni'ihau which would be seaward of the house. Recorded by Ernest Dela Cruz ,Fall 76 class.

Coco Palms Resort, Wailua: One night a hotel guest couldn't sleep because she heard a baby crying. He decided to investigate but he saw no baby nearby. He did see a fireball dancing on the water in the lagoon in back of the Hotel at Coco palms. He ran back to his room and wanted to take a picture of the fireball but when he returned the fireball had disappeared. Informant was a hotel guest.

Wailua: When a fireball was seen , it was a sign to turn back. The fireball was seen in many occasions in front of the beach from Waipo'uli to Wailua. Informant was Jessie Akau.

Hanalei: During a funeral the informant and several men were facing the sea at the back of the deceased's home. A fireball was seen at the door of the house but it disappeared.. The fireball was the spirit of the deceased. Fireballs were seen mostly along the beach at Hanalei. Informant was Harold Kobayashi.

O'ahu Island

Oahu-general. The colors of akualele:

Kawaiaha'o Church. In the courtyard of Kawaiaha'o church, O'ahu, Mrs. Puku'i and several other younger girls were sitting about when a light came down from above. The girls were crying because they were afraid. The ball bounced about and burst in a glimmer of light. Infoirmant was Mary Kawena Pukui. August 28, 1965.

Honolulu. Akua hanai, a fireball sent for evil purposes. Mrs. Pukui's house at Birch Lane, Honolulu. A fireball was seen to fall on top of the house by neighbors. However, because she, Pukui, was a descendant of the kahu of the Ma'i-ola god, she was protected and needn't swear to avoid the evil of the fireball.
When Mrs. Pukui married her husband, the husband's cousin who was a staunch Catholic disliked her because of various reasons, one being that she was part haole [white]. The cousin who lived nearby wanted her cousin's (her husband) to marry someone else.
The woman called in a kahuna-pule-umi who was an old man named Hewa. He began to recite a prayer but he was too old to hold his breath and fell over quite exhausted and when he reached the hospital he was dead. The woman was responsible for sending the fireball to her but she was protected.

Moanalua. Once when Mrs. Pukui was at Moanalua at the picnic grounds, a man, possibly the caretaker, and a kama'aina [local resident] of the area stopped and talked to her. It took some time before the man knew that she wa knowledgeable in matters of Hawaiiana. He told her that he was the caretaker of the cave in which many things were kept. He expressed concern that the children of this generation would not understand nor care for the things of their past. He told her that an akualele lived there and every so often it would come out and fly about the area.    Several years later, her daughter went with friends to Kalihi Valley [possibly on the Moanalua side]. Her friends asked her to chant and she did. As she did so a ball of fire rose up and came toward the car. They were frightened and drove away. The ball flew alongside them and left.  Her daughter went home and told her mother about it and was told that she had nothing to worry about, she was protected from such things.  Once when they were all in the same area the mother asked her daughter where she had seen the object and sure enough the area was approximately the area where the old man had told her about, the home of the akualele.

Waialua Five children were afraid of fireballs. A Japanese girl age 14, said "a fireball is said to be a spirit going through the sky. It has tails. I think it is a shooting star." Gwladys F. Hughes. Folk beliefs and Customs in a Hawaiian Community. Journal of American Folklore. Vol. 62. July-Sept. 1949, no. 245. p. 294-295.

Nuuanu Valley: One evening when the informant was preparing to sleep, [she slept on the cushioned floor of the house ] she saw from where she was lying a fireball of red-orange color outside of the house. It appeared to be outside and above, perhaps a little beyond the neighbor's roof top which is about 50 feet away. The fireball was whirling and spinning around leaving sparks. Its path was a curve while it was spinning in flight. it suddenly fell to the ground. The time was approximately 11 p.m. Informant was Jeanette Paglinawan.

Maunalani: Awoke at midnight to go to the bathroom. Startled at bright light at the front door, she saw a huge fireball at the front door, it was whitish in color.  She later asked an old lady about it and the lady said that someone in her family was against her. She also asked about this in her prayers and in a dream she discovered this was so. A particular member in her family was jealous of her. Informant was Sarah K. Smythe.

Hakipuu: The head of a Japanese household went to use the outdoor toilet one night and was astonished when the area lit up as if a bright meteor had just flashed by. When he returned to his house, his wife and father said a fireball flew by and it disappeared into the hau thicket nearby.  The family decided to investigate the hau thicket the next day. The next day as they searched the thicket and came across a skeleton without its skull.
This family consulted a Hawaiian priest and were told that the skeleton probably belonged to a man who was murdered but his body was never found. His advice to the family was to look in the direction where the fireball originates and that will be the source of the skull.
The family did as the priest suggested and they eventually found the skull. The skull and the body were brought together and this stopped the fireball. The outside toilet was also moved to a new location.  The belief was that the spirit could not rest so it had to attract the attention of the family by its frequent flying at night. Informant was a Insurance Salesman.

Sand Island: Mr. Smythe who takes care of the Quarantine Station closed the station late one night. As he was leaving the area, a large bright blue luminous ball came down from the sky and stood in front of his feet . He tried to touch it or pick it up but the ball flew upwards and disappeared. Informant was Mrs. Smythe.

Pali Road: A car with several people were traveling down the Pali Road in an old model T car. They saw this fireball and they stopped the car. The older man got out and began swearing, the result was that the fireball broke up into little balls. The pieces of the fireball became little men called 'E'epa. Informant was Richard Paglinawan.

Pali Road: A car was going down the Pali road when an akualele [fireball] passed slowly in front of the car. The engines stopped. After the fireball passed the car started again. Informant was Don E. Johnson.

Oahu-general: Relatives say that when a fireball explodes the pieces become individual objects which move about. Informant was Ipo Kawelo-Johnson.