Pele, the fire and volcano goddess, is known for her power, passion, and jealousy. You don't want to be on her bad side.
General: Legends / Mythology
|Guide Series: Hawaiian Mythology
Pele is known as the Volcano Goddess or Fire Goddess and is one of the more popular names you'll hear throughout Hawaiian history and mythology.
There are several myths describing how Pele came became part of Hawaiian lore. One story tells of how Pele lived a happy life at home with her parents where she was one of six daughters and seven sons. Pele is the offspring of Haumea and a few of her siblings include Kamohoali'i, Kane Milohai, and Namaka to name a few. Many of her siblings are also associated with fire, wind, clouds and ocean waves so this isn't a family to be messed with.
One day she began to feel stirred by thoughts of far-away lands. She prepared food for a great voyage to sail across the ocean with a canoe she borrowed from her brother. Pele eventually made it to Lehua, a small island north of Ni'ihau, where she dug and dug into the island to find a fire pit to live in. This proved unsuccessful, so she traveled to the different islands. She traveled to Kaua'i, then O'ahu, Moloka'i, Maui and finally the Big Island where she eventually discovered the great Kilauea Volcano, where she settled in with her family.
Pele's home is the fire pit known as Halema'uma'u Crater, which is located at the Kilauea Volcano caldera. However, the domain of Pele encompasses all of the volcanic activity associated in the region. There are a number of different legends associated with Pele, although she is best known for being the goddess of the volcanoes. She is also associated with passion, jealousy, capriciousness, and power.
Pele was sometimes referred to as Madame Pele or Tutu Pele - the goddess of fire, wind, volcanoes, and lightning. One legend has it that she is the creator of the islands and arguably the most well known of all the deities in Hawaiian culture. In fact, she is still a presence and influence in Hawaiian culture, and is arguably the most enduring mythical figure invoked when storms arrive or the volcanoes erupt.
Pele eventually dies at the end of the journey and her bones were used to form a hill on Kahikinui while her spirit resides on the Big Island of Hawaii.
The belief in Pele has been a part of the Hawaiian culture ever since the first people arrived on the islands many centuries ago. In 1819, the old religion was officially abolished although some of the traditions continued for years afterwards. In 1824, stories were told that the High Chiefess Kapi'olani went into the home of Pele and recited a Christian prayer instead of the traditional one. When she did not die as a result, the Christian missionaries used that incident as proof that the goddess was not real which helped them push their religion on the Hawaiian people.
However, despite the move of Pele from the forefront of Hawaiian beliefs to a mythological figure, her presence is still a strong part of the culture. Legends of the goddess have been published over the years. Many paintings and renderings of her image are prominently display around the islands and when disasters strike, such as the eruption of a volcano, the name of Pele is often invoked in reference to her mythical power.
Her name is still spoken with reverence that offers insight into the belief system that carries a tradition to the Hawaiian people to this day. In fact, it's said that taking home Lava Rock & Sand Souvenirs from Hawaii will cause Pele's wrath to follow you home and curse you with extremely bad luck. For more on that be sure to read Lava Rock & Sand Souvenirs. Want more Pele without the wrath and bad luck? Try our [PID:282] instead.
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