Conversation Starter: Who Is the Hawaiian Goddess Pele? - FamilyEducation

Conversation Starter: Who Is the Hawaiian Goddess Pele?

by Eloise Kruger

Learn the story of Hawaiian goddess Pele and why she is still sends burning lava down the sides of Hawaii's volcanoes.

Hawaiian Lei

Do you think that an angry goddess causes the burning volcanoes? According to Hawaiian mythology, Pele is a powerful and vicious fire goddess. She is the goddess of lightning, wind, fire, and volcanoes, and the creator of the Hawaiian Islands. In Hawaiian songs, she is described as "She-Who-Shapes-The-Sacred-Land."

One of the many different stories of Pele says that she was a great traveler and came to Hawaii from the island of Tahiti. She visited different islands to look for a place to live, but the sea always flooded the places, and she finally decided to stay in the volcano of Kilauea.

While traveling to a neighboring island, she fell in love with a young chief named Lohiau. Back home, she sent her sister Hi'iaka to get him, giving her special powers for the journey. Hi'iaka found the chief dead of a broken heart, longing for Pele, and she had to bring him back to life. Meanwhile, Pele became impatient and jealous, thinking her sister stole the chief from her. She sent lava to kill her sister’s best friend, Hopoe. When Hi'iaka returned with the chief, she found her friend dead and embraced Lohiau. When Pele saw this, she sent lava to kill Lohiau. With her special powers, Hi'iaka brought Lohiau back to life again and went to live with him on his island.

Pele’s jealousy caused her to lose her lover and her sister. Today, she is still a very angry woman living in the craters of the Kilauea Volcano and has been sending burning lava down the mountains.

Never Take Rocks From Pele
Many Hawaiians believe there is a curse of bad luck on anyone who takes minerals and rocks from Hawaii.  They believe the curse comes from Pele, who sees the lava stones as her own children. If someone would take you from your mother, she would be upset too, right?

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