What is a Kahuna?

Do you remember the Big Kahuna in the Frankie Avalon, Annette Funicello movies in the late 60’s? In the humor of that name, we may be closer to the true meaning than we realize. The Big Kahuna was someone who was good at surfing — he knew something about surfing that other surfers didn’t know. He was the best!

“Ka” means “the,” or “light,” and Huna means “secret,” but it doesn’t mean secret in the sense that it did when you were a kid. It means secret in the sense of “esoteric,” or “hidden.” For example, if you were going to have a meaningful conversation with a Quantum Physicist, you’d probably have to study Quantum Physics for 4 or 5 years. So Huna means knowledge which is not secret as much as hidden from view. Huna means knowledge which is “concealed,” or wisdom which is “protected like a treasure.” If we divide the word differently (a common practice in discovering the deeper meanings of Hawaiian words), “Kahu” means “keeper”, “honored servant” or “high servant who takes charge of persons, property, or knowledge.” “Na” means to care for, to settle difficulties, in a legal sense; quiet, pacified, as an aggrieved child; calmed, quieted, as one’s passions — calm and centered.

Today we would translate the word Kahuna as being roughly equivalent to Ph.D. — a specialist in some field. So, in ancient times, there were Kahuna of fishing, farming, and planting; there were Kahuna of philosophy, negotiation, and government; there were Kahuna of canoe building, navigation, and tiki (statue) carving; and there were Kahuna of child birthing and rearing. There were also (and this is our main interest in Huna), medical Kahuna called La’au Lapa’au; predictors called Kilokilo, or those who did divination; psychological healers called La’au Kahea; and mystical initiators, called Na’auao.

The Kahuna Kapihe in Kona in 1850 may have succinctly captured the essence of the Science of Huna in the saying,

“E iho ana o luna. E pii ana o lalo. E hui ana na moku. E ku ana ka paia.”

Which means, “Bring down that which is above by means of the light.

“To ascend take from darkness into light that which is below by means of light.

“This will transform the spiritual energy as it flows from the source and integrates all the islands (inside you), giving peace.

“This will affect you profoundly, and change your life bringing illumination, and you will feel the delightful supreme fire.”

Notice the similarity to the Hermetic axiom from the Emerald Tablet (approximately 1500 A.D.), “That which is above is like that which is below, and that which is below is like that which is above.” — Hermes Trismegistus


How does Huna relate to other ancient teachings?

Huna is as broad based as any other shamanistic system, and it is important to know that there are correspondences from Huna to all other shamanistic and magical teachings. We can think of the origins of thought in Huna to be the same as Wicca, Alchemy, or Hermetics in western Europe; the same as the Native American tradition; and the same as the Aboriginal teachings in Australia, the Maori teachings in New Zealand, or the original teaching of Tantra in India.

So whereas there was the tradition of the Holy Guardian Spirit in Hermetics, Alchemy, and the Native American Tradition, so also in Huna we have the tradition of the Higher Self.

Where there was the tradition of the 5 elements in Hermetics, Alchemy, and Tantra in India, so also in Huna we have the 5 elements.

Where there was the tradition of the Dream Time in the Native American Tradition, Maori and Aboriginal traditions so also in Huna we have Moe Uhane (Dream Time) in Huna.

Where there were Herbs used in healing in the Native American, Chinese, and other traditions, so also in Huna we have a tradition of herbal healing.

Where there was energy healing in the Philippines and in Reiki, so also the use of symbols for energy healing in Huna. Where there was a tradition of using the numbers and the stars for making predictions in Astrology, the Cabalah, and in Numerology, so also in Huna we have a tradition of using the stars and numbers for prediction.

And where there was a tradition of chanting in the Native American Tradition, the Aboriginal, the Maori traditions, and in the tradition of Tantra, so also in Huna we have a tradition of chanting.

Of course, there should be correspondences between Huna and the other disciplines if they all came from the same origin. While most, if not all, of what comprises the major esoteric disciplines has been written and published, upwards of 80% of what is really Huna has not yet been published.


What do I need to know in order to study Huna?

As you begin your study of Huna, or whatever esoteric discipline you choose, please consider the following:

The spirit of any esoteric training does not lie solely in the information being taught, but in the influences that come from the teacher and which, over time, tune the pupil to higher and higher levels of vibration. An esoteric school is different from all other schools in that, although its intent is to communicate wisdom, its real power lies in its contacts with the unseen and in essence inner worlds. Unless it has these contacts, it cannot give its pupils the power to put the intellectual theory into practice. All of the different schools of the original teachings generally share the same principles but they differ very much in how they gather their power and in their ability to apply and share that power.

Any training in esoteric studies should increase positive character traits in the initiate. Above all, it should bring increasing balance of the mind. If it does not do this there is something wrong. What could possibly be the purpose if a student experiences the heavens open to him and yet loses his reason, his livelihood, and his friends? To put it clearly, training in Huna should not cause a person to loose his job, relationships, and all that is dear to him. The result of any esoteric study is, and should always be Balance. Remember that you have four parts to your personality: physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual; and any method of training should take into account all four of these. It should then bring them into balance if it is to produce the stability that comes from having symmetry and harmony in life.

“Unless the study of esoteric science yields fruits of practical application it is unworthy of the pursuit of any serious minded person, and unless these fruits be the fruits of the spirit it is unworthy of the study of any spiritually minded person.” — Dion Fortune

Please remember that any teacher (Kumu) of the esoteric sciences cannot reveal his entire system to one who is uninitiated, and the more the teacher knows the less he will be inclined to reveal immediately. But no real teacher would ever withhold knowledge from anyone who was worthy to receive it. On the other hand, for his own protection, he cannot accept as a pupil someone who would be likely to abuse that knowledge or betray that trust.

“The true trainer of souls knows that it serves no useful purpose to require an oath, for unless he is prepared to carry his pupils bodily into the Kingdom of Heaven he must teach them to walk on their own feet, and he can never do that as long as he keeps them in the splints of an oath… What is required of the neophyte is not a blind obedience but an intelligent comprehension of principles… that he shall have reached such a degree of self- discipline that, when a principle is explained to him, he will immediately be able to put it into practice… If the light that is in him be so dim that he cannot understand the principles involved, he should not be placed in the position of having to deal with problems beyond his powers… never surrender your will, never surrender your judgment.” — Dion Fortune

Remember this there is no one other than you who has the power to give you initiation or the power to refuse it to you; as soon as you are ready for initiation you claim it by your right, not your grace.

“A great body of tradition exists, though scattered and concealed and the student in whom the inner eye is open can penetrate its significance when he studies it … an initiator … should codify this knowledge and reduce it to an intelligible system; the value of an occult school depends in a large measure on the manner in which this purely mundane work has been done.

“If we seek the roots of living spiritual experience, we are unwise to look for it along the lines of organized… tradition… In every record of the foundation of an Order we read of a meeting between its founder and an illuminated teacher who gave him his contacts by virtue of his personal magnetism.” — Dion Fortune, 1922, 1987


Who can teach Huna?

Answer to come