What is Huna ?

Who is Serge Kahili King ?

Serge Kahili King, Ph. D., has published the world’s largest selection of books and tapes on Huna, the Polynesian philosophy and practice of effective living, and on the spirit of Aloha, the attitude of love and peace for which the Hawaiian Islands are so famous. He also writes extensively on Hawaiian culture and is a novelist as well. Critics describe his style as “practical, down-to-earth, and easy to grasp.”

His academic background includes a Ph.D. in psychology from California Coast University, a Master’s degree in International Management from the American Graduate School of International Management (Thunderbird) in Arizona, and a Bachelor’s degree in Asian Studies from the University of Colorado, where he also became a member of Phi Beta Kappa. Dr. King also teaches and guides healing circles on two virtual islands owned by Aloha International in Second Life.

During seven years in West Africa, Dr. King directed community development and disaster relief programs for Catholic Relief Services in Dahomey (now Benin), Togo, Senegal, The Gambia, and Mauritania. He organized, funded and administered school lunch programs, nutrition education programs, agricultural development programs, social services programs, leprosy treatment programs, and credit union programs. President Leopold Sedar Senghor, then president of Senegal, gave him a medal and inducted him into the Grand Ordre National du Senegal in recognition of his services to the African people.

When Serge Kahili King was fourteen he was initiated into the path of Hawaiian shamanism by his father. At eighteen he was adopted as the grandson of Joseph Kahili of Kauai, a “kupua” or shaman of the Hawaiian tradition. In addition to his years of training with the Kahili family, Dr. King spent seven years in West Africa being trained in African shamanic traditions, and has made in-depth studies of other such traditions around the world. Today he teaches people how to use shamanic healing techniques and uses his knowledge to help others discover their own creative power.

Serge Kahili King, author of “Urban Shaman,” explains the principles of Huna, the Polynesian philosophy of esoteric knowledge and practice.

What is Huna ?

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 (experts) 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 kahunasand 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.

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

Principles and beliefs

The New Age practice of Huna emphasizes practical living and harmony with three levels of consciousness or selves. Long claimed that a low, middle, and higher self were recognized by the ancient kahunas. Long called these selves the unihipili (subconscious, inner, emotional, intuitive), uhane (waking consciousness, rational) and aumakua(super-conscious, connection with the divine), however these are not the Hawaiian meanings of these words. 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.

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.

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, and encouraged his readers to subscribe to Unity Church’s magazine, Daily Word. 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, and Pila Chiles associating the islands withchakras, vortexes and lay lines.

Serge King misappropriated three Hawaiian language words for his idea of “the three selves”: “Ku,” “Lono,” and “Kane.” However, the meanings he gives these words are not the meanings of the words in Hawaiian. 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.

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

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.

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