The Volcano Goddess

Hawaii Islands are entirely made up of shield volcanoes, formed out of fluid lava. This is the story of the goddess who started it all. Young Pele lived in Kahiki (Tahiti), a child of th

Published: 30th March 2012 12:19 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th May 2012 09:50 PM   |  A+A-

Hawaii Islands are entirely made up of shield volcanoes, formed out of fluid lava. This is the story of the goddess who started it all.

Young Pele lived in Kahiki (Tahiti), a child of the gods. Her parents meant for her to become a water goddess but unfortunately for them, Pele discovered fire from the Underworld and from there began her fascination with it. She began to set fire to everything she could find and was soon setting ablaze her own home.

The one most annoyed at the turn of events was her elder sister, Namaka, the sea goddess. Every time Pele threw a fit and erupted a volcano, Namka had to flood it to put out the fire.  The sisters got into such an awful row that Namaka threatened to submerge their entire island home. That was when their parents decided that it was time to send the spirited Pele on a voyage, anywhere, somewhere!

“It isn’t safe here for you any more, Pele! Your sister will drown our home if you trouble her any more. There’s a brave new world out there somewhere. Go check it out,” they said. Not something all parents tell their children but Pele was, well, how do you put it, more than a handful. They gave her a canoe and along with some of her siblings (she had so many) set her adrift. Her oldest brother, the sea dragon, and the king of sharks Kamoho steered the canoe. Her mother also gave her the egg of her unborn sister, which she carried in her armpit as she paddled furiously. The egg when it hatched later became her sister Hiaiaka.

They followed a star, shining brightly in the sky towards the north east. Namaka was close behind in hot pursuit but Pele and Kamoho managed to stay ahead and finally came upon an atoll (a strip of islands around a lagoon). This could be our new home, she thought to herself. But just as she made her way up a tall mountain, the snow goddesses who lived there sent out freezing cold blizzards her way. Pele began hopping from one island to the other to escape the avalanche attacks. As she moved southwards, fierce tidal waves sent by Namaka, her sister engulfed her.

Pele climbed the high mountain of Mauna Loa, the southernmost island. Here Namaka’s waves wouldn’t reach her and Pele was able to keep her fires lit. When her temper flared, Pele spewed forth hot fire and molten lava which flowed towards the sea chasing it further and further away. All that flowing hot lava cooled to form more land. From Mauna Loa, Pele moved south east to find a large crater. Here she placed her magic stick Paoa. She called it Kilauea. This is going to be home, she told herself. To this day, the volcano Kilauea spits forth fire and molten lava and is one of the most active volcanoes in the world.

Pele doesn’t forgive those who want to take a piece of her. And souvenir hunters to Kilauea are a cursed lot. Bad luck befalls all those who take away a bit of lava rock from there. So much so, most return the rocks sooner or later. You dare not mess with Pele, the volcano goddess!

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