Sunday, January 30, 2011

Pele, Fire and Volcano Goddess of Hawaii

Finding myself about to embark on a trip to Hawaii, one of the goddesses I am anxious to meet Pele, goddess of fire, volcanoes, dance, and violence.

Pele, for one, after sleeping with her elder sister's husband, fled Tahiti just ahead of her water goddess sister's wrath. Every time she found a home and created a volcano, her sister would quench the flames, flood the island, and chase her away. Pele eventually landed on Maui, or some say The Big Island, where she was torn into pieces by her sister, becoming the goddess the Hawaiian people know today.

Like many of the Greek gods and goddesses, Pele is known to visit mortals, either as a tall, beautiful young woman, or as an elderly woman. Whichever she chooses, she is often accompanied by a white dog. Like in many folk tales, Pele is a goddess that often tasks mortals with a chance to redeem themselves by giving her food, drink, or a trip across the island. Those who are selfish find themselves victims to bad luck, possibly to a fire that will rip through their home.

For those who have been to Hawaii, one of the biggest myths, or perhaps more likely an urban legend, is Pele's protection of her lava rocks and black sand. Tourists who take these items are said to find bad luck upon returning home. Although this myth was started by a park ranger, there is some truth to heeding the words. After all, the beauty of Hawaii cannot be enjoyed by our children and our children's children, if we have taken the beauty away.

Somehow, I will have to resist the temptation, and look to the other gifts on the island to enjoy, in particular, the large variety of tropical fruit. Those are gifts that will return year after year for all to enjoy.

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