The Beauty and Power of Pele

Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of fire, is one of the Hawaiians most important deities. Through her explosive power of lava and fire she has created and destroyed many things on the islands. From the moment we arrived in Hawai’i we have been told countless times of the power of Pele. Most notably the story called Ka Mo’olelo’o Hi’iakaikapoli’o Pele, in which she sent her sister, Hi’iaka, to retrieve Pele’s lover on one condition, Pele was not to touch Hi’iaka’s fields that she loved so much. The journey took much longer than expected so Pele, fearing that Hi’iaka had run away with Pele’s lover, burned the fields. When Hi’iaka saw that her sister broke her promise she slept with Pele’s lover. The two sister’s ended up reconciling and let the lover choose. This story showcases Pele’s power and fiery temper. Unfortunately we were unable to actually see genuine lava from the volcano’s crater.

On the island of O’ahu, we actually got to see lava be made and poured at the Bishop Museum. In order to make the lava, rocks had to be heated up to over two thousand degrees fahrenheit over a period of three hours. When the lava was pour and cooled it became a sort of glass-like substance and we were told that it would be as fragile as glass. During the demonstration at the museum, we also got to see and touch the other forms of rock and glass that lava creates when it is released. A few of the forms of rock and glass that we saw at the museum were ‘A’a or rough rock, Pahoehoe or smooth rock, Pele’s tears, Pele’s hair, and olivine. Whilst looking around the rock piles in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, I was able to find each of these types of rock and glass. I felt very lucky to have found both Pele’s tears and Pele’s hair for the reason that they are very had to find. Pele’s tears are very small, smooth stones that are formed when lava shoots in the sky and is cooled on the way down by the air. Pele’s hair actually looks like strands of hair but in reality are sharp stands of glass that are formed when lava is shot into the air and are spun and formed into fibers by the wind. I actually found the bits of Pele’s hair in the crevice of another rock and only knew what it was when it glinted in the light. We had to be careful not to bring any of the rocks with us however because legend says that if you take a volcanic rock from Pele then you anger her and she curses you with bad luck until you return it. When we got back in the van to leave the park we all checked our shoes just to make sure no rocks had gotten caught in our shoes or in the groves of our soles.

The Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park was extremely beautiful. Our first stop was to the Volcano House to have lunch. I was in awe when we got there and I looked out the window of the house and saw Mount Kilauea’s crater, Halema Ľuma Ľu. White smoke was pouring out of the heart of this beast with volcanic rock surrounding the area of the crater. After a fantastic lunch we headed up to the small museum and, more importantly, the high vantage point that allowed you to see the crater within the crater. Though it is impossible to see the lava from the point we were told that if we came late at night we would be able to see a red glow emanating from the crater. I took about 20 photos from just this vantage point because it was so amazing. You could honestly feel the raw power of Pele beneath your feet.

After a quick trip to the gift shop we clamored back into the vans and headed down to the edge of the island where the rocks meet the waves. It was a spectacular sight. The waves smashing up against the volcanic cliff and the wind blowing us all around. We stood and stared at the wonder of the ocean and Pele’s stones. We could look behind us a the winding road we took down the mountain and we could see the path the lava had taken to reach the ocean. It was at this time that we were told about how when Kilauea had last erupted people went out in the ocean in canoes and kayaks to watch the lava flow down. What a sight that must have been to see the lava flow down the mountains and see the steam rising from the ocean. It was a spectacular adventure and it was truly something that everyone should experience when they come to Hawai’i.


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    The Beauty and Power of Pele

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