- The Huna tradition said to be indigenous to Hawaii has become popular among neo-shamans and is disseminated in workshops and via the internet. The term Huna refers to teachings or wisdom held and sometimes disseminated by experts, kahuna; the term kahuna is cognate with other Polynesian terms (e.g., Maori tohunga) meaning “expert.” It can be applied to all kinds of experts—priests, carpenters, singers, canoe builders, or anyone else with a recognized and prized skill. However, it is often interpreted by nonindigenous people as a claim to more mystical or shamanic powers. That Huna may mean (temporarily hidden or elite) knowledge does not necessarily equate with shamanic knowledge. While few academics accept claims of widespread Pacific or Oceanic shamanisms, proponents of Huna (e.g., Serge Kahili King) are vociferous in asserting indigenous roots. However, it is likely that the idea originated with Max Long’s claims that Hawaiian friends taught him the basis of his “Huna Fellowship” system, established in 1945. Certainly, more recent books and websites replicate and elaborate from Long’s ideas, adding ideas and practices derived from wider neo-shamanism. Long’s spiritualism is now reexported as Hawaiian shamanism. Elements of indigenous traditions may be incorporated to give local flavor—for example, the Pleiades star cluster is important in many Oceanic cultures, but some Huna proponents identify it as the home of the space aliens who brought their wisdom to Hawaii.
Historical dictionary of shamanism. Graham Harvey and Robert J. Wallis. 2007.