Location of the Lau o Milu

In the myth of Hiku and Kawelu, the entrance to the Lua o Milu is placed out to sea opposite Holualoa and a few miles south of Kailua. But the more usual account of the natives is, that it was situated at the mouth of the great valley of Waipio, in a place called Keoni, where the sands have long since covered up and concealed from view this passage from the upper to the nether world.

Every year, so it is told, the procession of ghosts called by the natives Oio, marches in solemn state down the Mahiki road, and at this point enters the Lua o Milu. A man, recently living in Waimea, of the best reputation for veracity, stated that about thirty or more years ago, he actually saw this ghostly company. He was walking up this road in the evening, when he saw at a distance the Oio appear, and knowing that should they encounter him his death would be inevitable, he discreetly hid himself behind a tree and, trembling with fear, gazed in silence at the dread spectacle. There was Kamehameha, the conqueror, with all his chiefs and warriors in military array, thousands of heroes who had won renown in the olden time. Though all were silent as the grave, they kept perfect step as they marched along, and passing through the woods down to Waipio, disappeared from his view.

In connection with the foregoing, Professor W. D. Alexander kindly contributes the following:

“The valley of Waipio is a place frequently celebrated in the songs and traditions of Hawaii, as having been the abode of Akea and Milu, the first kings of the island….

“Some said that the souls of the departed went to the Po (place of night), and were annihilated or eaten by the gods there. Others said that some went to the regions of Akea and Milu. Akea (Wakea), they said, was the first king of Hawaii. At the expiration of his reign, which terminated with his life at Waipio, where we then were, he descended to a region far below, called Kapapahanaumoku (the island bearing rock or stratum), and founded a kingdom there. Milu, who was his successor, and reigned in Hamakua, descended, when he died, to Akea and shared the government of the place with him. Their land is a place of darkness; their food lizards and butterflies. There are several streams of water, of which they drink, and some said that there were large kahilis and wide-spreading kou trees, beneath which they reclined.1

“They had some very indistinct notion of a future state of happiness and of misery. They said that, after death, the ghost went first to the region of Wakea, the name of their first reputed progenitor, and if it had observed the religious rites and ceremonies, was entertained and allowed to remain there. That was a place of houses, comforts, and pleasures. If the soul had failed to be religious, it found no one there to entertain it, and was forced to take a desperate leap into a place of misery below, called Milu.

“There were several precipices, from the verge of which the unhappy ghosts were supposed to take the leap into the region of woe; three in particular, one at the northern extremity of Hawaii, one at the western termination of Maui, and the third at the northern point of Oahu.”2

Near the northwest point of Oahu is a rock called Leina Kauhane, where the souls of the dead descended into Hades. In New Zealand the same term, “Reinga” (the leaping place), is applied to the North Cape. The Marquesans have a similar belief in regard to the northern most island of their group, and apply the same term, “Reinga,” to their Avernus.


Topics:
Folklore, Legends,

Collection:
Thrum, Thomas G. Hawaiian Folk Tales A Collection of Native Legends. Chicago: R. R. Donnelley & Sons Company. 1907.


  1. Ellis’s “Polynesian Researches,” pp. 365–7. 

  2. Dibble’s History, p. 99. 

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