The White Moon School Presents Pele
by Silver Lotus
Described as "She-Who-Shapes-The-Sacred-Land" in ancient Hawaiian chants, the volcano goddess, Pele, was passionate, volatile, and capricious. In modern times, Pele, has become the most visible of the old gods and goddesses. Dwelling in the craters of the Big Island's Kilauea Volcano, she has been sending ribbons of fiery lava down the mountainside and adding new land around the southeastern shore almost continuously since 1983. (1)
Cane, Herb Kawainui, Coffee Times, 2001.
She has destroyed more than 100 structures on the Big Island since 1983. She has added more than 70 acres of land to the island's southeastern coastline. (2)
Johnsen, Arthur, Honolulu Star Bulletin, 2003.
Pele was born of the female spirit Haumea, or Hina, who, like all other important Hawaii's gods and goddesses,
descended from the supreme beings, Papa, or Earth Mother, and Wakea, Sky Father.
Pele was among the first voyagers to sail to Hawai'i pursued they say, by her angry older sister,
Na-maka-o-kaha'i because Pele had seduced her husband.
Pele landed first on Kaua'i, but everytime she thrust her o'o (digging stick) into the earth to dig a pit for her home,
Na-maka-o-kaha'i, goddess of water and sea, would flood the pits.
Pele moved down the chain of islands in order of there geological formations,
eventually landing on the Big Islands Mauna Loa, which is considered the tallest mountain on earth when measured
from it's base at the bottom of the sea. (3)
From the east the woman Pele arrives
From the land of Polapola
From the red rising mist of Kane
From the blazing clouds in the heaven,
From the billowing clouds of the sunrise,
The woman Pele erupts in Hawai'i. (4)
Sibling rivalry, a story as old as the tale of Cain and Abel, lies at the heart of the drama,
But it is at the same time the story of one goddess' awakening into selfhood. Of all her siblings, Pele favored her
youngest sister Hi'iaka, the most. Pele, Hi'iaka and another sister, Laka, goddess of hula, were all patronesses of the dance.
Hi'iaka was said to have hatched from an egg that Pele kept warm during the long canoe ride to Hawai'i by transporting it in her armpit.
Waldherr, Kriss, The Book of Goddesses, 1995.
After Hi'iaka grew to womanhood on the Big Island, Pele traveled in spirit form to the north shore of Kaua'i to witness a dance performance at a pahula, or dance platform, that still exists near Ke'e Beach. Here she manifested herself as a desirable young woman, and quickly fell in love with a handsome young chief named Lohi'au.
She dallied with Lohi'au for several days, but Pele sent Hi'iaka to convince Lohi'au to come to her. The sisters extracted vows from each other. Hi'iaka promised not to encourage Lohi'au should he become attracted to her in return, Pele promised to contain her fires and lava flows so as not to burn a grove of flowering ohi'a trees where Hi'iaka danced with her friend Hopoe. (4) The guileless younger sister sets out on her journey and battles in succession, demons, death, and the seduction of lust. She encounters relatives and others who, charmed by her innocence and character, reveal to her the genealogy of the Pele clan. Hi'iaka grows in strength with each encounter and soon claims her full stature as a goddess--she becomes one who takes and restores life. However, nothing can fully prepare her for the consequences of falling in love with Lohi'au.
Soon enough, Pele discovers the lovers, and in a fit of vengeance, destroys all the things beloved by Hi'iaka: she kills Lohi'au and burns her sister's 'ohi'a groves to the ground. Faced with this profound betrayal, Hi'iaka undergoes a painful loss of innocence. Yet, it is this very loss that ultimately frees the goddess to stand up and face Pele in battle. (5)
The epic struggle of Pele and Hi'iaka is played out to the very day in the ongoing tension and balance of natural forces. After each eruption, lava flows destroy what life lies in their paths, but before long, they become beds for 'ohi'a seedlings.
In the Hawaiian cosmology, Pele and Hi'iaka comprise the eternal cycle of destruction and renewal that drives creation. (6)
Sandra Stanton, Goddess Myths
There are shrines erected all along the site on the lava flow to honor the goddess Pele - J. C. Wong
Make sure you don't have pork in your car if you take the Old Pali Road, or Pele might stop your car or stall it. - Mrs. Anita Keawe
To save your house and avoid the lava flow, pour brandy all around it and it will be safe. - Mr. Narimoto
1. Coffee Times
3. Holo Mai Pele
7. Coffee Times
Drent, Les, Coffee Times, 2003.
Kanaka'Kanahele, Pualanai and Nalani Kahuka'Kanahele, Holo Mai Pele, 2001.
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