5 reasons why Pele, Hawaiian volcano goddess, is every one of us

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Standing on the edge of a sea of hardened lava, I faced the most intimidating and powerful force I have ever witnessed. Mount Kilauea, on the southeast side of Hawaii’s Big Island, is considered one of the most active volcanoes in the world. Kilauea has been in a state of constant eruption since 1983, it’s lava occasionally engulfing houses and abandoned pickup trucks.

On a dark, clear night, a warm, rosy glow surrounds the top of the volcano, showcasing the lava soup bubbling within. Every few seconds an eerie boom is heard–the booms are said to be tectonic plates crashing into one another, but they sound like angry giants slamming down their fists.

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The whole atmosphere is unnerving and beautiful. Being in close proximity definitely does not feel comfortable but the spectacle is one that must be observed, appreciated, loved. Much like the image of Pele, the volcano goddess who is credited for sculpting many Hawaiian landmarks in the islands’ mythology.

Like any woman, Pele is multifaceted. While her presences demands respect and reverence, she’s also been known to make mistakes. She’s not perfect, but she is a force believed to be responsible for many world-changing events.

As a woman standing on the edge of a lava crater, contemplating the power of this mythical figure, I started to draw parallels to myself and the women I know. Equally impressive as Pele, we all also tend to screw up.

Here are a few of the similarities I noticed:

1. Pele is passionate.

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Photo taken at Jaggar Museum, Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park

Hawaii mythology claims that Pele lives within the lava crater of Mount Kilauea and that she is very happy in her home there, even today. She is known for her lustful nature, once accused of seducing her sister’s husband (again, she is not perfect). But through that passion, comes a sincere concern for her homeland and a vehement sense of protection for her creations. She punishes visitors who dare to bring a piece of lava home with them, forever advocating for the land she loves.

2. Pele struggles with expressing her feelings.

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Photo taken at Jaggar Museum, Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park

 

Pele once had a one-nighter with a half-hog player who was in search of a daddy figure after years of parental abuse. The affair took place after the hogman,  Kamapua’a, professed his love to Pele, to only have her starkly reject him. The two engaged in a Captain Planet style fight of the elements, and in the midst of their fighting, Pele held back and then Kamapua’a embraced her. While under her love spell, Kamapua’a’s harsh boar-like appearance faded into his original handsome softness. But when he changed, Pele became confused and pulled away again. She told him she was meant to be queen and sent him away. Years later, she missed her half-hog man and sang for his love, but believing she died within the molten lava of her home, he gave up on his search.

3. Pele has daddy issues.

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Image from mythicalrealm.com

After Pele seduced her sister’s husband, she and her sister, water goddess Na-maka-o-Kaha’i, got in a heated fight. Their father, Kane Milohai, creator of the sky, earth and upper heavens, kicked her out of Tahiti, their home. That’s when she ended up in the area later known as the Hawaiian Islands. Through a series of battles that inadvertently sculpted the islands, she eventually settled in her fire pit in Halemaumau Crater at the summit of the Kilauea Volcano.

 

4. Pele is strong.

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Photo taken at Jaggar Museum, Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park

 

When Pele was sent away from her birthhome, she grabbed her digging stick and constructed many well-known landmarks of the Hawaiian Islands, including Diamond Head crater in Honolulu. She is known to have a temper, and really doesn’t seem to hesitate to engage in battle. A fight with her sister ended in Pele’s demise when she was torn apart, her bones laid to rest in a hill near Hana, Maui, called Ka-iwi-o-Pele.

5. Pele is a creator.

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Image from journeyingtothegoddess.wordpress.com

Though her home is in Halemaumau Crater, Pele rules over all volcanic activity in Hawaii. By following her passions (which often resulted in battles), she had a huge impact on the landscape of the islands. Her home is still considered one of the most active volcanoes in the world. Though she has been through family expulsion, sibling rivalry and a broken heart, she continues to actively reign in her domain as Pele-honua-mea, Pele of the Sacred Land.