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The San Francisco call. [volume] (San Francisco [Calif.]) 1895-1913, February 17, 1901, Image 5

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THE Kahunas are casting strange
., spells over Hawaii. It was thought
ii that annexation would crush the
rower of the kahuna, as the native
witch doctor is called. Eut the new con
dition of affairs has only driven the ka
huna to action.
Several prominent natives have recently
met with mysterious and sudden deaths.
They were ail men who openly favored
annexation. They were ell warned by the
witch dociors ihat they were doomed.
Only the other day Daniel Nr'.one. a na
tive In sympathy with the new govern
ment, passed a'vay under peculiar circum
"Prayed to death" by the kahunas, say
the "annexation" natives.
"Poisoned by «he kahunas," say the for
"Pooh!" say the "national native" party.
The "national" natives are those who
chafe under tt-.e new regime. They have
resorted to the kahunas as a last resort to
bring about a change. " Naturally they are
not anxious for an investigation of
Naone's death, and claim that he died
But the island authorities are deter
mined to investigate into these rudcTen
and peculiar deaths. The "carpetbag
gerp." as the politicians who have recent
ly Fettled In Hawaii axe called, are partic
ularly nettled. They flocked to Honolulu
without a cent in their pockets, settled
down on assurance, and as the months
rolled by gathered in some Juicy plums
from the island politic.il pie. The "carpet
baggers" have resorted tG the usual crafty
tactics to capture these same plums. All
of which has at last aroused the dyed-in
the-wool conservative native, and in the
emergency he has evoked the aid of the
mysterious kahuna.
How well the kahunas have done their
work the recent death roll and the thor
pughjy intimidated natives attest. . .
The kahur.a <s a witch doctor, a juggler
cf potions, a eir.ser of incantations, a.
graybeard who mixes shivery spells, afel
low who gathers lethel herbs from graves
In the crescent of the moon, an owlish
Individual who hoo<3oos cattle and re
moves malignant influences for 15 cents.
He wouldn't rank very high In this coun
try, and it is doubtful if a hustling kahu
r.a couM make a living here even by ad
vertising. Eut in Hawaii, among the su
perstitious natives, whatever he says
"goes." The unquestioning natives ¦ be
lieve that a kahuna through his mystic
epells can put a hoodoo on a man that
will rigorously last through seven gen
erations; eo when a kahuna tells a native
voter to vote for a certain man or with
a certain party that native voter firmly
believes he will be forever damned unless
be obeys implicitly. And that's the new
klr.d of power the enterprising kahuna is
wielding In his native land under the up
to-date kind of American politics as
played there. Is It any wonder, then, that
a roar of protest went up from the "car
retbargers" when It was noised about
that the "national natives" had called out
these kahuna reserves to meet the tricks
and ballot devices of their resourceful op
On top of all the charges and counter
charges came the sensation over Naone's
death. Naone vras a prominent native;. he
belonged to what is called the "advanced
party." aT.d was developing suspicious
tendencies to affiliate with what the con
servative natives termed in their new po
litical linpo "rank outsiders." Those same
rank outsiders had shrewdly conceived
thut to capture a necessary part of the
Hawaiian native vote it would.be good
politics to pather a number of the most
rromireiu Hawaiian* into their fold and
pive them a certain amount o-f patronage.
They figrred that the lamblike native
voters would follow these native leaders.
Naone, it i? said, was only one ,of this
number. The native party saw this de-'
fectlon wtth resentment and apprehension.
Those who watched the contest dec'are
that the call to the kahunas was the move
mr.de by the conservatives to blcck it.
The kahunas arc among the most stanch
and loyal lovers of their native land. If
there is any Kanaka who foots the isl-/
and sul! who believes fervently and Im
plicitly In its old-time institutions and
l'fc. or any native who would d!e defend
ing Hawaii for the Hawailans, It is the
Vnhuni. This ; sn't strange when It is un
d.rstood that their very profession and
living is bound up in the superstitious awe
of the natives, for the Hawaii of Kame
harroha. And so it is that any native
leader or native party that is working or
plotting to preserve "old Hawaii" can al
ways rely on the kahunas for stanch and
ready support. "".:'-
Naone's death is a rare one to furn'sh
eliminations and recriminations between
two parties at loggerheads over such a
state of things. As far as Is known, noth
ing particular In the way of illness was
the matter with him up to the time he
was accosted on the street by a kahuna.
That was about the middle of last Decem
"Oh. ho, stubborn Naone," said th*
witch doctor, as a parting shot to th>.»
man who refused to desert the advanced
party. "I see a red devil sitting on your
right shoulder; he is grinning and point
ing to the moon, which means that inside
of a month you will die. Forswear tlvs
new party and stand by old Hawaii, or be
Naone had embraced Christianity and
was a man of great personal courage, but
in spite of his years and his knowledge
in his new faith, in spite of his confidence
In his new political all-es, he shivered at
the old soothsayer's warning. Pagans, so
scientists say, though other religions may
wean them from the worship of their fore
fathers, always return to the home gods
of their ancestors when in dire extremi
ties. Beneath Naone's dark skin, in spite
of modern culture and a . new religion,
flowed' his Kanaka blood and he was as
keenly alive to the sayings of a grisly
old Kahuna as was his grandfather, who
recklessly paddled naked through the
beach combers.
The evidence in the case as gathered by
the "carpet baggers" shows that he must
have been very seriously affected by th»
"witch doctor's" words, for although he
was in excellent health when he heard
them, within a week he took to his bed,
complaining that he did not feel well:
that some way or other he had an Impres
sion that his right side was becoming
paralyzed. This was the side indicated by
the kahuna on which he claimed to seo
the red devil sitting-.
Naone's friends gave him some sound
practical advtce and called in a hardhead
ed old physician who wasn't afraid of tha
spells and incantations of an island full p!
kahunas. The doctor tackled his Job with
zest, for he felt it was a test case of the
modern medical profession against* th<2
oldtime _ witchcraft of the kahuna. In
three days he had Naone up and aroun'l
and in such a cheerful frame of mind that
he* laughed at the idea of such a stront,
robust man as himself ever becoming par
alyzed. ¦ . ¦
Naone was leaving his house for his
office next morning when on the threshold
he almost bumped into the imperturbable
kahuna, who was evidently lying In wait
for him. "Ah, stubborn Naone." said the
old sorcerer.' shaking his withered hands
at him. "Still my old eyes see the, red dev-il
sKtirig there on your shoulder; he has ta
ken another grip and he shouts: 'Naone's
days are shortening/ Within two weeks
he will be mine!' Return, oh, foolish man,
return to the party of your fathers, ero
it is too late." . |
At these words the ill-fated' man stag
gered as though struck a heavy blow. H<»
grasped the balustrade and steadied him
self. Then with a low groan he turned
and re-entered the house. The kahuna
followed him unchecked. What took
place within the privacy of Naone's room
no man knows, but when the kahuna left
the stricken man had possession of some
new medicine In a small vial. v This vial
was discovered under his pillow when
about half of it was taken. The trained
nurse Insistently Irore It over to the doc-
tor despite the tears and assertions of Na
one that it was the only medicine th*t
would save him. •
From the moment he was deprived of
the contents of the kahuna's vial Naon*
seemed to give up all hope and sank rap
idly. He bore no- evidences of any acutf
sickness; his life. seemed simply to flicker
out and he died within three weeks of tho
first warning 1 . .
The political results of Naone's death
are whaj might have been expected. Th»
natives watched the case with . we. for
Naone's course In politics and his defiance
of the order of the kahuna was known
to all his countrymen. Almost before the
last breath left his distraught body tho
report was buzzed about the, native quar
ters that "the red devil has got Naone,
as the kahuna warned." And now the 3U
perstitions among the Kanaka voters are
firmly convinced that Naone's death is a
sign from the ancient gods that the only
way to escaDe the clutch' of the red devil
is to vote as the kahuna tells you.
Charges of foul play are being bandied
thick and fast over Naone's sudden de
mise. The natives possess recipes for
making vegetable poisons which -were in
days gone by administered by certain ka
hunas or their creatures to those thev
wanted out of the wiv. In the forthcom
ing Investigation of his death by the au
thorities some of his friends will try to
prove that if the kanuna did not directly
use some form of poison in the medicine
given him' he, "prayed him to death," 'a
threat much resorted to by witch doctors
when trying to influence superstitious na
tives. :
Those who are versed ' in native wayj
and beliefs declare that It doesn't make
any difference what kind of findings the
Inquest returns. According to them, the
superstitious among the natives are al
ready fully convinced that Naone wm
given to the red devil for not doinsr as
the kahuna told him. and that "settles
the votes and everything else naagtns; on
the matter. * I'v/^**^
It is the power ef the kahuna "pitted
against modern skepticism. At present
the kahuna Is certainly holding his own.
SZTflortfazal Orgies arid
worship, of the s^at
¦'yeHovf Serpent
faxnoos Government explorer, has
Just returned to Washington with
a grewsome story from Hayti,
where he had the remarkable privilege of
witnessing a voodoo ceremonial— one of
those demoniacal orgies which on that Isl
and celebrate the worship of the Great
Yellow Serpent. This serpent, represented
at the festivals of the devil's cult by a
cannless native epedes of er.ake. is sup
posed to be an incarnation of the arch
fiend himself, possessing all knowledge,
but approachable only through bis priests
*nd priestesses — the watchers at the
shrine of Obeah, who Is otherwise known
as Jo-Ju. Mumbo-inmbo or Vuudoux, t- e
last of these names being commonly cor
rupted Into Voodoo.
"Cannibalism !s a conspicuous feature
ef these rites," said Professor HUL "It Is
tnr-esticr.a.bly a fact that large numbers
of young children are offered up annually
In Hayti as sacrifices to- the Great Yellow
Snake. Indeed, it is known that mothers
frequently dedicate their Infants at birth
to this purpose, the fatal ceremony being
postponed ordinarily until the victim has
reached the age of 2 years. Invariably the
ritual winds up with a feast, the details
of which are too horrible to be described.
Only when human prey Is not obtainable
Is a black goat, which must have a white
rpot on It, or a white cock used as a sub
stitute. The cock chosen for this^purpose
Is always one of those freak chickens
which nave their feathers growing the
wrong way.
"This cult of Vaudoux Is extremely an
dent. representing the most primitive
form of religion. It is serpent worship,
with all the Incidentals of witchcraft. Just
as it prevails in the darkest parts of Af
rica. The sodality of sorcerers, the smell-
ers out of witches, are a widespread
priesthood, whose organization and forms
of ceremonials date i-ack to a remote an
tiquity. One finds their order represented
in o»r own "country by so-called voodoo
doctors, who deal in charms and 'hoodoo'
spells and have an extensive practice
among the colored people. The .'buck and
wing' dancing of our nigger minstrel and
vaudeville stage comes directly- from the
ceremonial dancing of Vaudoux, and its
'pigeon wings' and other peculiar capers
have special significance in connection
with the rites of Obeah.
"The religion of Vaudoux se«ms to be
preserved en the island of . Hayti with
more of its pristine purity than anywhere
else in the- world, not even excepting' Af a
rlca. The republic cf Hayti, in fact,' is
nothing more nor less than- a piece of the
dark continent set down near our shores.
Its population, numbering, about 1,000,000
souls, is composed , of remnants of hun
dreds of savage tribes brought ; thither
during the slave dealing days to work on
the plantations. They were savages when
they arrived and they are savages still,
retaining their ancient customs and insti
"The cult of Obeah Is a secret society.
Into which members - are initiated wita
complicated rites. Its ceremonials con-,
slst largely of dances, which are accom
panied by drums, and each particular
solemnity or ritual Is accompanied by, Its
own 'tune/if such a term may be used.
Everywhere 'through the mountains of
Hayti the traveler hears the drums con
stantly sounding, and to the ¦ ear of a
stranger the noise would be nothing moro
than tomtomming, but to a member of t»-a
organization each kind of beating has its
own" peculiar meaning. Thus, on a cere
monial ' occasion, when ] the drummers
strike the 'theme' the. participants. know
the | dance and song Which go with It.
There are- from 300 to 400 - different dances.
"The ceremonials are rituals of witch
craft and are held for the purpose of i
gaining ; various favors from the Great*
Yellow Serpent, such as the cure of sick
ness, the bringing down of evil upon ene
mies and even the causing of death to
persons .who may have given "offense to
the society or to individual members. As
the fiances progress they become more
and more furious, usually ending in, a
frenzy that overcomes all the partici
pants, who become crazy for the time be
ing, many of them, falling into a sort of
cataleptic condition. The culmination of
the wgy is the sacrifice of. a living ani
mal and the drinking of its blood, which
is passed^ around j for that purpose in . a
Jug; mixed ' with rum. . Finally, the vic
tim is boiled in a pot and eaten. * *
"The "drums used to accompany . the
dances are < an important feature of the
ceremonials. Usually they are employed
in groups; of three, each group having
its peculiar color and significance. The
red ' drums, for example; come into play
only on those more serious occasions
when the .: ritual i happens to have for its
special object the bringing down of wrath
upon a person who may have been so
unfortunate as to j excite the ill-will of
the society. This set of drums is known
as the trio of death,- red being, the color,
appropriate to death and the sacred color
of ' the Vaudoux.' When beaten they are
supposed to excite the vehement anger of
the evil spirit which is to be directed
against the Individual aimed at. .- . .
"Each voodoo ceremony is presided
over by a sorcerer-in-chief, known as the
Papeloi, who Is assisted by a witch
woman . called the Mameloi. - These per
sonages have attained their high rank In
the society, as it is understood; through
the long practice of extraordinary wick
. • . - - -¦ - -
edness, and usually they are of hldedus
aspect, the notion being that their super
natural power varies directly with their
ugliness. Nobody dares to disobey them,
inasmuch as to do so would be to invite
the most dreadful consequences, and they
are able to devote their entire time to
evil-doing being maintained by gifts
which their, followers bestow upon them
in the nominal shape of offerings to the
devil god. ¦ 1
"These priests and priestesses are usu
ally distinguished by a peculiar knotting
of their kinky wool.'. but, -In. Hayti - any
old man or woman of strange appearance
is apt to be suspected of being a Papelot
or.Mamelol. They undoubtedly possess
a remarkable knowledge of the medicinal
properties of plants, * especially as to poi
sons and ! febrifuges. So great Is the
faith In them as . medical practitioners
that in cases of serious illness they are
commonly called in even by persons out
side the pale of the voodoo organization,
and to-day no regular physician, no mat
ter-how capable, can make a living In
Hayti, notwithstanding the number of
dreadful diseases ! which prevail on the
island. - ¦ , .. • : *' - -
""The ¦witch doctors of Vaudoux are
known to be poisoners, and in this capac
ity they may well be dreaded by persons
who have no faith In * supernr tural pow
ers. ' It .is i said | that .they i are acquainted
with certain extracts and decoctions of
plants which, being administered in small
dosts at Intervals, will Induce a gradual
decay of the victim's mind, reducing him
to a state of Idiocy. They have other
poisons which work in so subtle a fash
ion that no harm Is done by them ap
parently until, when the secret adminis
tration of them Is suddenly stopped, the
unfortunate dies by reason of their with
drawal. The. venom of the scorpion and
the tarantula, intensified by distillation,
makes ,tho merest scratch of a dagger
fatal, and if common report be credited,
a fluid expressed from certain large crim
son, ants furnishes an equally deadly
agent: Where an Individual who has of
fended tho society cannot be got at di
rectly, hla servant may be terrorized into
giving him poison In his coffee, and It Is
¦ . , * . "'".-¦ ' " ' .•¦'-.
reven asserted that the witch . doctor
knows how to communicate senna of •
leprosy to an untainted human twing. *
No ' wonder, then, that voodoolsm ex
tends a malign Influence over the entire,
population of Hayti, those 'who nave no
faith In Its supernatural agencies being
afraid to offend the organization. Rather
than do so, they will pay largely to have
removed from themselves a 'spell.' of the
employment of which they may have re- i. ¦
celved» notice by coma such means as flnd-r"
ing a little bac containing chicken bones -
and a dried lizard or two attached to tha !
gate po9t. Some of the highest officials
on the Island are known to belong to ths
mysterious cult, whose "membership Is by " -
no means restricted to the lower orders. '
and history records that only a few years
ago a President of the republic was.in
itiated Into the organization and took part I -
In its most fearful rites, bathing himself {
In blood and otherwise declaring: himself* L
a believer In Obeah.
"The nominal religion of the people ot
Hay tl Is Roman Catholic, but there are
few priests of that faith permanently resi
dent in their parishes, and during their . I
absence the churches are commonly dese
crated by the performance of voodoo rites.
A curious mingling of Christianity and ¦
paganism In its worst form has come
about, the temples of Obeah being fre
quently adorned with pictures of the Vir
gin Mary and the saints. It Is even said
that - human sacrifices have been offered*
up on the altars of the church"- the red
drums of death being beaten In the sane- 9
rtuary. It Is •worth mentioning, by the
way. that the kldnapins of children for .
sacrifices Is not Infrequent In Hayti. and -
not long ago a lady missionary testified
that to her certain knowledge human flesh
was often sold In the markets of the In
terior towns. This last might seem in
credible were It not realized how well- ?
nigh universal Is cannibalism In the dark
continent, and that most cf the peonle of
Hayti are almost unmodified savages. -
"One gets a notion of the antiquity of
voodoolam from the testimony of ' Pliny, i '-
the historian; who, writing In the century"
before Christ, mentions the fact as well ;
known in his time that African slaves in
Rome and elsewhere in Italy had a re- -
llglon of their -own. which, when permit-
ted. they practiced at night with horrid
Incantations, the presence of the serpent
being considered necessary, and that there >
was a priestess who went Into a species
of frenzy, giving utterance while In that
¦tats to oracular ¦aylnra." J <

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