Day 9 — Pele ( Fire, Volcanos, Sex, Seduction, Destruction, Creation )
Pele is the ruler of the volcanoes of Hawaii and humans have no power to resist her. When Pele speaks, her word is final. She may appear as a tall beautiful young woman, or as an old woman, wrinkled and bent with age, sometimes accompanied by a white dog. When enraged she may appear as a woman all aflame or as pure flame. Her sacred name as a spirit is Ka-ula-o-ke-ahi, the redness of the fire.
Pele’s themes are unity, tradition, protection, creativity and change. Her symbols are fire and red colored items. In Hawaii, Pele’s fires develop and redevelop the islands through volcanic activity. It is this creative force that comes into our lives today, cleansing, transforming and rebuilding, augmented by summer’s fiery energy. According to local legend, it is unwise to take any souvenir from Pele’s mountain without asking or leaving a gift, lest bad luck follow you everywhere. She is zealously protective of Her lands and Her children. Traditional offerings include coins, strawberries, hair, sugarcane, flowers, tobacco, brandy and silk.
Pele is the goddess of fire, lighting, and volcanoes in Hawaiian indigenous religion. She is sometimes called Madame Pele, Tutu (Grandmother) Pele, or Ka wahine ʻai honua, the earth-eating woman. According to Hawaiian legend, Pele is the creator of the Hawaiian Islands.
There are thousands of divine beings in Hawaiian religion, but Pele is perhaps the best known. She is a descendant of the Sky Father and a spirit named Haumea. As the goddess of the element of fire, Pele is also considered an akua: the sacred embodiment of a natural element.
There are a number of folktales that characterize Pele’s origins. According to one folktale, Pele was born in Tahiti, where her fiery temper and indiscretions with her sister’s husband got her into trouble. Her father, the king, banished her from Tahiti.
Pele traveled to the Hawaiian islands in a canoe. Soon after she landed, her sister arrived and attacked her, leaving her for dead. Pele managed to recover from her injuries by fleeing to Oahu and the other islands, where she dug several giant fire pits, including the one that is now the Diamond Head crater and Maui’s Haleakala volcano.
When Namakaokahai found out Pele was still alive, she was livid. She chased Pele to Maui, where the two of them battled to the death. Pele was torn to pieces by her own sister. She became a god and made her home on Mauna Kea.
Flames are her primary attribute; she may also leave behind three long silver hairs as her calling card.
Kamapua’a; Pelé has a close relationship with many shark spirits. (She is literally related to many of them.)
Creatures: Dog, shark
Active volcano Mount Kilauea (she reputedly lives within Halema’uma’u crater but the whole mountain is her home). The site of her ancient temple is now occupied by the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory and the Thomas A. Jaggar Museum, which features Herb Kawainui Kane’s Pelé murals. Mauna Loa also belongs to her.
‘Ohi’a lehua (Metrosideros collina)
Plant: Sadlaria (red) ferns, ohelo (Vaccinium reticulatum). Pelé claims the ohelo berries that grow on her mountain. The ohelo is not just any plant: it grew from the bones of her mortal sister, Ka’ohelo. The mountain berries are reserved for Pelé (and endangered Hawaiian nene geese).
Red, orange, flame
Offerings are traditionally left respectfully at the crater’s edge but may be placed on home altars, too: crystals, roast chickens, flowers, ohelo berries, flame-colored silk scarves or other luxurious fabrics. Pelé is frequently given cigarettes, gin, brandy, or other alcoholic beverages. However, this is controversial: many traditional Hawaiians do not approve.
The Story of Pele, Hawaiian Volcano Goddess
Pele is the goddess of fire, lighting, and volcanoes in Hawaiian indigenous religion. She is sometimes called Madame…
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