The Legend of Pele
by Asia A., staff writer
In Hawaii, there is an ancient legend of Madam Pele, a fire goddess who people have reportedly seen walking on the side of the road on the Big Island, right before a volcano eruption.
The legend was that a long time ago, Pele lived in Honua-mea in Tahiti. She had a fight with her sister Namakaokahai, a ocean goddess. Pele took a canoe and sailed across the sea to Hawaii to escape her sister and landed on the island of Lehua, north of Niihau. Her sister Namakaokahai followed her to Hawaii, and every time Pele made a volcano erupt, her sister would flood the lava with water.
Pele fled to Kauai and used her Pa’oa stick to make fire pits, striking deep into the ground. Her sister found her and attacked her. Namakaokahai left Pele for dead, but Pele healed and retreated to Oahu where she dug a few fire pits. She then went to Molokai to create a fire pit there too. Pele moved onto Maui and established more fire pits there, one of them now known as Haleakala.
Namakaokahai realized that Pele was still alive and traveled to Maui to fight. They had a battle, and Namakaokahai tore apart Pele and that freed Pele’s spirit, which turned her into a goddess. Pele’s spirit moved on to Kilauea and created a fire pit now known as Halemaumau Crater. Her spirit still lives on today in the Kilauea volcano, and is still known for her violent temper. If visitors take her volcanic rock, she would put a curse on them. If you’re lucky, you may be able to spot a glimpse of her long, silvery hair while driving in Hawaii.