Pele is a Polynesian Goddess of volcanic fire, lightening, wind, volcanoes and sorcery. She is a popular figure in many stories of ancient Hawaii known as Hawaiian mythology.
She was born of the female spirit Hina. It is told that she sailed to Hawaii because she was being pursued by her older sister Na-maka-o-kahaí because Pele seduced her husband. She originally landed on Kauaí, but due to her sister flooding her homes, she moved down a chain of islands and ended up landing on Mauna Loa, one of the world’s tallest mountains. Her sister could not send her waves high enough so Pele ended up staying there. Her brothers came and surrounded her in various cliffs and mountains. Her youngest sister Hi’iaka was favoured by Pele, who is said to have hatched from an egg that Pele kept warm during the trip to Hawaii. Once Hi’iaka was a grown woman, Pele travelled in spirit to form the north shore of Haua’i, and while there she fell in love with a young chief named Lohi’au. When she went back home she sent her younger sister to convince the chief to come home to her. The sisters extracted vows from each other: Hi’iaka promised not to encourage Lohi’au should he become attracted to her and in return, Pele promised to contain her fires and lava flows so as not to burn a grove of flowering ohi’a trees where Hi’iaka danced with her friend Hopoe. But, when Hi’iaka found that Lohi’au had died. She ended up restoring his spirit to his body and the two set off back home to Pele. But, it had been fourty days since Pele had seen or heard anything and she grew warry and so she sent a flood of lava into her younger sister’s grove, killing Hopie in the process. Hi’iaka saw the burning trees and she flung herself into Lohi’au. Pele then sent another stream of lava, which killed Lohi’au. Hi’iaka, being a goddess, survived the ordeal.
Legends of Pele show that most of her lovers didn’t escape with their lives as she would hurl molten lave at them, trapping them in misshapen pillars of rock that exist in volcanic fields to this day. Many who had seen Pele destroy others were terrified by her but there are many altars to her beside lava streams. She is known as a passionate, volatile and unpredictable goddess. She dwells in the Big Island’s craters and she continues to send lava down the mountainside and adds new land around the south-eastern shore almost continuously since 1983. There are several phenomena connected to Pele, including Pele’s hair, Pele’s tears, and Limu o Pele (Pele’s seaweed). A volcano on the Jovian moon Io is also named Pele.Tales of her power continue to this day. Drivers are said to have picked up an old woman who is dressed in all white and is accompanies by a little dog. They then look in the mirror and realize she is missing. Her face appears in photographs or volcanic eruptions and most people who live on the islands speak respectfully of Pele. She has destroyed more than 100 structures on the Big Island since 1983, but she has also added more than 70 acres of land to the islands south-eastern coastline.
Pele is well known as a volcano goddess living in the crater of Kilauea on the island of Hawaii. Red berries, gin and brandy are the common sacrifices to this powerful Goddess out of respect and not necessarily worship. Her worship has lasted much longer than most of the older gods and you can go to Hawaii now and still hear tales of her and her power. Her visible active power has strong influence on the hearts of citizens. It is local legend that if you take any rocks from her mountain home with you, you will be cursed with bad luck.