Huna (New Age)

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Huna is a Hawaiian word adopted by Max Freedom Long (1890–1971) in 1936 to describe his theory of metaphysics. Long cited what he believed to be the spiritual practices of ancient Hawaiian kahunas (priests) as inspiration, however, the system is his invention, with roots in New Thought and Theosophy, rather than in traditional Hawaiian beliefs. Huna is part of the New Age movement.


Long, who was not Hawaiian, went to Hawaii in 1917 to work as an elementary school teacher. He became interested in the religious beliefs and practices of the ancient kahunas and modern practitioners of traditional, indigenous Hawaiian religion, but none of the ceremonial people talked to him so he was unable to penetrate to the inner workings of this religion. He left Hawaii in 1931, convinced that he would never learn these secrets. In 1934, he woke with a revelation that the secrets were encoded into the Hawaiian language itself. He called the religious system he developed from this revelation 'Huna' (the Hawaiian word for secret), and wrote his first book in 1936 to chronicle his beliefs. There are no accepted Hawaiian sources that refer to the word 'Huna' as a tradition of esoteric learning.[1][2][3][4]

In 1945 Long founded Huna Research. In 1953, he published The Secret Science at Work as a Huna textbook, and in 1965 The Huna Codes in Religions, examining parallels between his invented system and religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism and Christianity.[5]

Principles and beliefs

The New Age practice of Huna emphasizes practical living and harmony with three levels of consciousness or selves.[5] Long claimed that a low, middle, and higher self were recognized by the ancient kahunas.[6] Long called these selves the unihipili (subconscious, inner, emotional, intuitive), uhane (waking consciousness, rational) and aumakua (super-conscious, connection with the divine),[7] however these are not the Hawaiian meanings of these words.[8][9][10] Long also redefined the Hawaiian concept of mana, (privileged as a divine power in traditional Hawaiian belief), and presented it instead as a vitalizing life force, which can, with knowledge of the three selves, be used in a manner of "personal empowerment" to heal body and mind and achieve life goals.[5]

Long believed he had discovered an ancient Truth, not just about Hawaiian spirituality but linking back to India and ancient Egypt. He believed Hawaiians were a lost tribe of Berbers. He wrote that spiritual adepts migrated to Hawai‘i from Egypt, passing on to the priests of India some of their basic beliefs.[11]

Long linked Huna to Theosophy and New Thought movements of the time. He wrote that the Christian Scientists understood positive thinking better than any group he knew,[12] and encouraged his readers to subscribe to Unity Church’s magazine, Daily Word.[13] Later Huna teachers have placed it firmly in the New Age, with Serge King claiming that Huna came originally from aliens from the Pleiades who were remnants of the mythical advanced civilizations of Mu or Lemuria,[14] and Pila Chiles associating the islands with chakras, vortexes and lay lines.[15]

Serge King misappropriated[16][17] three Hawaiian language words for his idea of "the three selves": "Ku," "Lono," and "Kane."[18] However, the meanings he gives these words are not the meanings of the words in Hawaiian.[10][16] King wrote that the seven principles of Huna are:

  1. IKE (ee-kay) - The world is what you think it is.
  2. KALA - There are no limits.
  3. MAKIA (mah-kee-ah) - Energy flows where attention goes.
  4. MANAWA (man-ah-wah) - Now is the moment of power.
  5. ALOHA - To love is to be happy with (someone or something).
  6. MANA - All power comes from within.
  7. PONO - Effectiveness is the measure of truth.[18]

But again, this is not what these words mean in Hawaiian, nor are they a part of traditional Hawaiian beliefs.[10][16] King also calls what he does, "shamanism" and cites "West African shamanism" as an influence.[19]

New Age author Rima Morrell has written that one who truly practices Huna has the ability to influence consciousness. The consciousness is not restricted to human consciousness, but may include that of animals, rocks, everything in the world around us both seen and unseen, therefore can include gods and goddess and the spirits of the departed who often appear in the form of animals.[20]


Max Freedom Long wrote that he obtained many of his case studies and his ideas about what to look for in kahuna magic from the Director of the Bishop Museum in Honolulu, William Brigham. According to an article in the peer-reviewed Hawaiian Journal of History, there is no credible evidence that the two men met. Even if they did, Brigham was not an expert on kahunas and did not document in his own writings any of the incidents Long ascribed to him, including walking on hot lava. In his letters and manuscripts, Brigham stated that Hawaiians were "an inferior race," and implied they were lazy. He referred to Queen Lili'uokalani as a "she devil," "squaw," and "nigger."[21]

Native Hawaiian scholar Charles Kenn, a Living Treasure of Hawai'i, recognized in the Hawaiian community as a kahuna and expert in Hawaiian history and traditions,[22] was friendly with Max Freedom Long but said, “While this Huna study is an interesting study, … it is not, and never was Hawaiian.”[8]

Pali Jae Lee, a research librarian at the Bishop Museum, and author of the classic book, Tales From the Night Rainbow, conducted extensive research on Max Freedom Long and Huna. She concluded, based on her interviews with Hawaiian elders, "Huna is not Hawaiian." Lee cites Theodore Kelsey, a Living Treasure of Hawai'i renowned for his work as a Hawaiian translator who wrote a letter to Long in 1936 (now in the Hawai'i State Archives) criticizing his use of the terms "unihipili" and "aumakua."[8][9]

Author Nancy Kahalewai, a teacher of lomilomi massage, wrote that "traditional lomilomi practitioners do not teach this philosophy. In fact, most insist that it is not from the native Hawaiian culture at all."[23]

Wells College Professor Lisa Kahaleole Hall, Ph.D., a Native Hawaiian, wrote in a peer-reviewed journal published by the University of Hawai'i that Huna "bears absolutely no resemblance to any Hawaiian worldview or spiritual practice" and calls it part of the "New Age spiritual industry."[24]

Mikael Rothstein, an associate professor of religious history at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, is the author of several books on religious history and new religious movements. He wrote about Huna in a peer-reviewed anthology:

Rather than integrating Hawaiian religion, however, New Agers seem to carry out a radical reinterpretation of this tradition, or simply invent traditions that were never Hawaiian. … New Age representations redefine Hawaiian concepts in order to align them to basic New Age trends.[16]

Rothstein also gathered opinions and analysis of Huna by native Hawaiians:

According to leading figures on the native-political scene in Hawaii, this kind of New Age representation amounts to straightforward exploitation. People often feel that non-Hawaiians are violating native intellectual property rights and that the out-of-context use of Hawaii’s religious legacy cripples the values that are imbedded in concepts such as kahuna, hula, Lomi Lomi, etc. The very idea that anyone could join a workshop and develop kahuna skills within a few weeks, for instance, is considered ridiculous as the traditional kahuna’s knowledge depends on a way of life rather than learning. …By importing Hawaiian ethnicity and revivifying what is perceived to be Hawaii’s religious legacy, New Agers from Europe and the United States…do not need the Hawaiians themselves. They need a myth about them, and so they create it… [16]

Huna books are "examples of cultural appropriation."[17]

According to the standard Pukui and Elbert Hawaiian dictionary, 'unihipili are the spirits of deceased persons, 'uhane is a soul, spirit or ghost, and 'aumakua are family or personal gods, deified ancestors who might assume the shape of animals. , Lono and Kāne are Hawaiian gods.[10]

In the Hawaiian language, the term kahuna is used for any expert. Kahuna include experts in diagnosing illness, herbal medicine, canoe building, temple building, wood carving, star-gazing, agriculture, and others.[2]


Huna Research Inc was founded by Long in 1945. On his death in 1971, he was succeeded as its head by Dr. E Otha Wingo (in accordance with a request by Long), and moved its headquarters to Missouri, where Wingo was a professor. It has fellowships in Canada, Australia, England, Germany and Switzerland, in addition to the United States.[5]

Huna International was formed as a religious order in 1973 by King. It has three branches: Aloha International, Voices of the Earth and Finding Each Other International.[5]

See also


  1. Malo, David. Hawaiian Antiquities (Bishop Museum, 1951)
  2. 2.0 2.1 Kamakua, Samuel. The People of Old (Bishop Museum, 1991) Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Kamakua" defined multiple times with different content
  3. 'I'i, John Papa. Fragments of Hawaiian History (Bishop Museum, 1959)
  4. Beckwith, Martha. Kepelino's Traditions of Hawaii (Bishop Museum, 1932)
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 Lewis, James (2002). The Encyclopedia of Cults, Sects, and New Religions. Buffalo: Prometheus Books. pp. 406–407. ISBN 1-57392-888-7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Melton, J. Gordon, ed. (2001). "Huna". Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology. 1 (5 ed.). Gale Research. p. 755. ISBN 0-8103-9489-8.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Long (1954) pp. 14-15
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Lee, Pali Jae (1999). Ho`opono. Honolulu: Night Rainbow Publishing. p. 56. OCLC 44516946.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. 9.0 9.1 Lee, Pali Jae (2007). Ho`opono - Revised Edition: The Hawaiian Way to Put Things Back in Balance (2nd ed.). Mountain View, HI: IM Publishing. pp. 89–93. ISBN 978-0-9677253-7-6.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 Pukui, Mary Kawena; Samuel H. Elbert (1986). Hawaiian Dictionary. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 0-8248-0703-0.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Long (1954) pp125-126
  12. Long (1954) p364
  13. Long (1954) p366
  14. King, Serge Kahili (1985). Kahuna Healing. Theosophical Society. pp. 10–11. ISBN 0-8356-0572-8.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. Chiles, Pila (1995). Secrets and Mysteries of Hawaii. Health Communications. pp. 51, 71. ISBN 1-55874-362-6.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 16.4 Rothstein, Mikael, in Lewis, James R. and Daren Kemp. Handbook of New Age. Brill Academic Publishers, 2007 ISBN 978-90-04-15355-4
  17. 17.0 17.1 Chai, Makana Risser. "Huna, Max Freedom Long, and the Idealization of William Brigham," The Hawaiian Journal of History, Vol. 45 (2011) p. 102
  18. 18.0 18.1 King, Serge Kahili (1990). Urban Shaman. Simon & Schuster. pp. 52–81. ISBN 0-671-68307-1.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. Serge King's Biodata, Aloha International
  20. Morrell, Rima (2005). The Sacred Power of Huna: Spirituality and Shamanism in Hawaii. Inner Traditions. ISBN 1-59477-009-3.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. Chai, Makana Risser. "Huna, Max Freedom Long, and the Idealization of William Brigham," The Hawaiian Journal of History, Vol. 45 (2011) pp. 101-121
  22. Stone, Scott S.C. (2000). Living Treasures of Hawaii 25th Anniversary of the Selections of Outstanding Persons as Honored by The Honpa Honwanji Mission of Hawai'i. Honolulu: Island Heritage. p. 24.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. Kahalewai, Nancy (2004). Hawaiian Lomilomi: Big Island Massage Second Edition. Mountain View, HI: IM Publishing. p. 139. ISBN 978-0-9677253-2-1.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. Hall, Lisa Kahaleole. "'Hawaiian at Heart' and Other Fictions," The Contemporary Pacific, Volume 17, Number 2, 404-413, © 2005 by University of Hawai'i Press


  • Long, Max Freedom (2009) [1954]. The Secret Science Behind Miracles. Wildside Press. ISBN 1-4344-0499-4.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Further reading

  • Helwig, David (2001). Jacqueline Longe (ed.). Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine. 2 (2 ed.). Gale Group. pp. 1011–1012. ISBN 0-7876-5001-3.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • James, Matthew B. (2010). The Foundation of Huna: Ancient Wisdom for Modern Times. Kona University Press. ISBN 0-9845107-0-2.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • King, Serge Kahili (1983). Kahuna Healing: Holistic Health and Healing Practices of Polynesia. Quest Books. ISBN 0-8356-0572-8.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • King, Serge Kahili (1985). Mastering Your Hidden Self: A Guide to the Huna Way. Quest Books. ISBN 0-8356-0591-4.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • King, Serge Kahili (2008). Huna: Ancient Hawaiian Secrets for Modern Living. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 1-58270-201-2.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Long, Max Freedom (2006) [1955]. Growing into the Light. DeVorss. ISBN 1-4254-6352-5.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Long, Max Freedom (1965). Huna Code in Religion. DeVorss.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Long, Max Freedom (1975) [1945]. Introduction to Huna. Esoteric Publications. ISBN 0-89861-004-4.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Lynch, Frederick R. (Sep 1979). ""Occult Establishment" or "Deviant Religion"? The Rise and Fall of a Modern Church of Magic". Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion. Society for the Scientific Study of Religion. 18 (3): 281–298. doi:10.2307/1385654.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Melton, J. Gordon, ed. (2001). "Huna". Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology. 1 (5 ed.). Gale Research. pp. 934–935. ISBN 0-8103-9489-8.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Paltin, S. J. (1986). "Huna of Hawaii: a system of psychological theory and practice". Hawaii Medical Journal. 45 (7): 213–4, 217–8.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Wingo, E. Otha (1973). Huna Psychology. Huna Press.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>