PELE.jpg picture by cap_franklin



* Poster's note: As I was growing up in Hawaii I often heard the legends about Pele, ancient Hawaiian Goddess who ruled the volcanos. How she, even in modern times, would suddenly appear to certain people and then disappear as quick right before an volcano erupted. I was intrigued by the superstitions, like a ghost story. But there is no doubt there was a Cult of Pele in ancient Hawaii that even exists to a degree today. A CULT because of it's terror inducing effect on it's adherents allowing power over them by the Pele Priests.



Sulfur_dioxide_emissions_from_the_H.jpg picture by cap_franklin




all_islands.jpg picture by cap_franklin





Pele (deity)

Painting of humanized form of Pele, hanging in the Jagger Museum at Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park.


According to legend, Pele lives in the Halema'uma'u crater of Kilauea.

In Hawaiian mythology, Pele (pronounced [ˈpeh- lei] in Hawaiian, /ˈpiːliː/ PEE-lee[1] or /ˈpeɪleɪ/ PAY-lay in English) is the goddess of fire, lightning, dance, volcanoes and violence. She has numerous siblings, including Kāne Milohai, Kamohoaliʻi, Pele, Nāmaka and Hiʻiaka, and they are usually considered to be the offspring of Haumea. Her home is believed to be the fire pit, Halemaʻumaʻu crater, at the summit caldera of Kīlauea, one of the Earth's most and continuously active volcanoes; but her domain encompasses all volcanic activity on the Big Island of Hawaiʻi.

There are several traditional legends associated with Pele in Hawaiian mythology.

Expulsion version

Pele is born to Kane-hoa-lani and Haumea in Kuaihelani. She sticks so close to Lono-makua, the fire god, as to cause a conflagration (or, as in the Aukelenuiaiku story, makes love to her sister's husband) and her older sister Nā-maka-o-Kahaʻi, called "a sea goddess," drives her away. She takes passage in the canoe Honua-i-a-kea with her little sister Hiʻiaka carried in her armpit and accompanied by her brothers Ka-moho-ali'i, Kane-milo-hai, Kane-apua, and others, and arrives at the Hawaiian group by way of the northwestern shoals. There Kane-milo-hai is left on one islet as an outguard and Kane-apua on another, but Pele pities this last younger brother and picks him up again. A group of songs relate the relentless pursuit of the party by the older sister until the two sisters encounter each other in Kahiki-nui on the island of Maui and Pele's body is torn apart and the fragments heaped up to form the hill called Ka-iwi-o-Pele (The bones of Pele) near Kauiki, while her spirit takes flight to the island of Hawaii and finds a permanent home on Hawaii.

Flood version

Pele is born in Kapakuela, a land to the southwest, "close to the clouds," and her parents are Kane-hoa-lani and Ka-hina-li'i, her brothers Ka-moho-ali'i and Kahuila-o-ka-lani. By her husband Wahieloa (Wahialoa) she has a daughter Laka and a son named Menehune. Pele-kumu-honua entices her husband from her and Pele travels in search of him. With her comes the sea, which pours from her head over the land of Kanaloa (Kahoolawe), never before so inundated, and her brothers chant,

"A sea! a sea!
Forth bursts the sea,
Bursts forth over Kanaloa (Kahoolawe),
The sea rises to the hills. . . ."
"Thrice" (according to the chant) the sea floods the land, then recedes. These floodings are called The-sea-of-Ka-hina-li'i.

The story

Pele sculpture, San Diego (Frank Mando).

Pele was born of the female spirit Haumea, or Hina, who, like all other important Hawai'i gods and goddesses, descended from the supreme beings, Papa, or Earth Mother, and Wakea, Sky Father. Pele was among the first voyagers to sail to Hawai'i from her homeland, Honua-Mea in Kahiki, in a canoe guided by her shark-god brother Kā-moho-aliʻi,. Legends say she was pursued by her angry older sister, Na-maka-o-kaha'i because Pele had seduced her husband.

Pele landed first on Kauaʻi, but every time she thrust her o'o (digging stick) into the earth to dig a pit for her home, Na-maka-o-kaha'i, goddess of water and the sea, would flood the pits. Pele moved down the chain of islands in order of their geological formation, eventually landing on the Big Island's Mauna Loa.

Even Na-maka-o-kahaʻi could not send the ocean's waves high enough on Mauna Loa to drown Pele's fires, so Pele established her home on its slopes. Here, she welcomed her brothers. A cliff on nearby Kilauea Mountain is sacred to her eldest brother, Ka-moho-ali'i, king of the sharks and the keeper of the gourd that held the water of life, which gave him the power to revive the dead. Out of respect for this brother, to this day, Pele never allows clouds of volcanic steam to touch his cliff.

Her other brothers also still appear on the Big Island mountain; Kane-hekili as thunder, Ka-poho-i-kahi-ola as explosions, Ke-ua-a-kepo in showers of fire, and Ke-o-ahi-kama-kaua in spears of lava that escape from fissures during eruptions.

Of all her siblings, Pele favored her youngest sister Hi'iaka, the most. Pele, Hi'iaka and another sister, Laka, goddess of hula, were all patronesses of the dance, but Hi'iaka was said to have hatched from an egg that Pele kept warm during the long canoe ride to Hawai'i by transporting it in her armpit.

After Hi'iaka grew to womanhood on the Big Island, Pele traveled in spirit form to the north shore of Kaua'i to witness a dance performance at a pahula, or dance platform, that still exists near Ke'e Beach. Here she manifested herself as a desirable young woman, and quickly fell in love with a handsome young chief named Lohi'au. She dallied with Lohi'au for several days, but eventually her spirit had to return to her sleeping body on the Big Island. Upon awakening, Pele sent Hi'iaka to convince Lohi'au to come 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.

On Kaua'i, Hi'iaka found that Lohi'au had died of grief after Pele disappeared, but the graceful younger sister was able to restore his spirit to his body, bringing him back to life. Together, the two of them began the journey to the Big Island, but Pele's suspicious nature got the best of her. Because forty days had passed since Hi'iaka had set out on her assigned mission, Pele decided she had been betrayed, and so sent a flood of lava into Hi'iaka's 'ohi'a-lehua grove, killing Hopoe in the process. When Hi'iaka saw the smoldering trees and her dancing friend entombed in lava, she flung herself into the arms of Lohi'au. In retribution, Pele set lose another stream of lava, which killed the mortal Lohi'au, but Hi'iaka, a goddess, could not be destroyed.

Madame Pele always manages to produce some sort of excitement for her guests. On this day in 1924 it was a huge steam eruption in Kilauea caldera.

The legend has a happy ending, however, as yet another brother of Pele's, Kane-milo-hai, reached out and caught Lohi'au's spirit when he saw it floating past his canoe. He restored the spirit to Lohi'au's body, and once again, the chief was brought back to life. Hi'iaka and Lohi'au returned to Kaua'i to live contentedly.

Legends about Pele, her rivals and her lovers abound. Most of the lovers she took were not lucky enough to escape with their lives when she hurled molten lava at them, trapping them in odd misshapen pillars of rock that dot volcanic fields to this day.

One lover who proved a match for Pele was Kamapua'a, a demi-god who hid the bristles that grew down his back by wearing a cape. The pig god could also appear as a plant or as various types of fish. He and Pele were at odds from the beginning; she covered the land with barren lava, he brought torrents of rain to extinguish her fires and called the wild boars to dig up the land, softening it so seeds could grow.

Pele and Kamapua'a raged against each other until her brothers begged her to give in, as they feared Kamapua'a's storms would soak all the fire sticks and kill Pele's power to restore fire. In Puna, at a place called Ka-lua-o-Pele, where the land seems torn up as if a great struggle had taken place, legend says Kamapua'a finally caught and ravaged Pele. The two remained tempestuous lovers, it is said, until a child was born, then Kamapua'a sailed away and Pele went back to her philandering ways.

Pele's greatest rival was Poliahu, goddess of snow-capped mountains, and a beauty who, like Pele, seduced handsome mortal chiefs. Pele's jealousy flamed after she had a fling with a fickle young Maui chief named 'Ai-wohi-ku-pua, as he was traveling to the Big Island to court a mortal chiefess, Laie. Paddling along the Hana Coast, 'Ai-wohi-ku-pua saw Pele in human form as a beauty named Hina-i-ka-malama, riding the surf. He paused for a brief affair. Then he went on to the Big Island, where Poliahu seduced him. He convinced his personal goddess to release him from his promise to his first love, and went back to Kaua'i with the snow goddess. Pele (as Hina-i-ka-malama) chased after them, eventually winning back the fickle chief, but Poliahu was so vindictive, she blasted the lovers with cold and heat until they separated, and 'Ai-wohi-ku-pua was left with no lover at all.

According to Hawaiian historian David Malo in his book "Hawaiian Antiquities," in old Hawai'i, some gods and goddesses, including Pele, were believed to be akua noho, gods who talked. They could take possession of an earthly being, who became the god's kahu. Malo writes, "The kahu of the Pele deities also were in the habit of dressing their hair in such a way as to make it stand out at great length, then, having inflamed and reddened their eyes, they went about begging for any articles they took a fancy to, making the threat, 'If you don't grant this request, Pele will devour you.' Many people were imposed upon in this manner, fearing Pele might actually consume them." Naturally, people who had seen others destroyed in Pele's fiery lava flows, were terrorized by such a kahu.

Pele has continued to intrigue contemporary men. Not long after the old religion was abolished in 1819, the high Chiefess Kapiolani (not to be confused with Queen Kapiolani wife of King Kalakaua) defied Pele by eating 'ohelo berries at the edge of Halema'uma'u caldera without first offering them to or requesting Pele's permission. In open defiance, Keopuolani threw stones into the molten lava below. When she was not harmed, she insisted it proved Pele had no power and it was time for Hawaiian people to accept Christianity as their religion.

In 1823, when Reverend William Ellis became the first white man to visit Kilauea, most Hawaiians accompanying the expedition were still in awe of the volatile goddess. The hungry missionaries began to eat 'ohelo berries, but were quickly warned to give Pele an offering. Ellis wrote, "We told them ...that we acknowledged Jehovah as the only divine proprietor of the fruits of this earth, and felt thankful to Him for them, especially in our present circumstances."...We traveled on, regretting that the natives should indulge in notions so superstitious." At the crater, the Hawaiian guides "turned their faces toward the place where the greatest quantity of smoke and vapor issued, and, breaking the ('ohelo) branch they held in their hand in two, they threw one part down the precipice, saying:

E Pele, eia ka 'ohelo 'au; (Oh, Pele, here are your branches) e taumaha aku wau 'ia 'oe (I offer some to you) e 'ai ho'i au tetahi (some I also eat).

To this day, tales of Pele's power and peculiarities continue. Whispered encounters with Pele include those of drivers who pick up an old woman dressed all in white accompanied by a little dog on roads in Kilauea National Park, only to look in the mirror to find the back seat empty. Pele's face has mysteriously appeared in photographs of fiery eruptions, and most people who live in the islands-whether Christian, Buddhist, Shinto, or other-speak respectfully of the ancient goddess. After all, she has destroyed more than 100 structures on the Big Island since 1983, and perhaps even more awesome than that, she has added more than 70 acres (280,000 m2) of land to the island's southeastern coastline. [2]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pele_(deity)



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The Cult of Pele in Traditional Hawai'i

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This paper is an attempt to reconstruct the cult of Pele, volcano goddess ... of the Pele cult. Primarily descriptive with minimal interpretation and ...
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by HA Nimmo - 1990 - Related articles


http://hbs.bishopmuseum.org/pubs-online/pdf/op30p41.pdf


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Pele Hawaiian Goddess of the Volcano

26 01 2008

Pele by Herb Kawainui Kane

Hawaiian legends tell that eruptions are caused by Pele, the beautiful Goddess of Volcanoes during moments of anger. Pele is both revered and feared; her immense power and many adventures figure prominently in ancient Hawaiian songs and chants.

PELE - the Hawaiian (Polynesian) goddess of Fire and volcano, was born in Honua-Mea, part of Tahiti.

She was one of a family of six daughters and seven sons born to Haumea (a very ancient Earth goddess) and Kane Milohai (creator of the sky, earth and upper heavens). She was exiled by her father because of her temper, and for fighting with her elder water-goddess sister Na-maka-o-Kaha'i, whose husband Pele had seduced.

Pele's oldest brother, Kamohoali'i, the king of the sharks, gave her a great canoe, in which she carried her little sister, Hi'iaka (or Hi'iaka i ka poli o Pele) who is known as the patroness of hula dancers, in egg-form, over the seas eventually finding Hawaii.

When Pele got to Hawaii, she first used her Pa'oa, or o'o stick on Kauai - striking deep into the earth but she was attacked by her older sister and left for dead. Pele recovered and fled to Oahu, where she dug several "fire pits," including the crater we now called Diamond Head, in Honolulu. After that, Pele left her mark on the island of Molokai before traveling further southeast to Maui and creating the Haleakala Volcano. Namakaokahai, Pele's older sister, realized she was still alive and she went to Maui to do battle. Finally, the epic battle ended near Hana, Maui, where Pele was torn apart by her sister.

Legend has it that her bones remain as a hill called Ka-iwi-o-Pele. Upon death, she became a god and is said to have found a home on Mauna Kea, on the Big Island of Hawai'i. Pele dug her final and eternal fire pit, Halemaumau Crater, at the summit of Kilauea Volcano.

She is said to live there to this day and is thought to be happy there because it was the Navel of the World, Ka Piko o ka Honua - were the gods began creation. She causes earthquakes by stamping her feet and volcanic eruptions of fiery devastation by digging with the Pa'oe, her magic stick.

Sightings of Pele have been reported all over the islands of Hawaii for hundreds of years, but especially near craters and her home, Mount Kilauea, one of the most active volcanoes on Earth. Pele is known for her violent temper, but also for her common visits among mortals. She is said to appear either as a tall, beautiful young woman or as a very old, ugly and frail woman.

Hawaiian Hula Dancers- Offerings to Pele…



http://honilima.com/2008/01/26/pele-hawaiian-goddess-of-the-volcano/


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Description

PELE - GODDESS OF FIRE Pele, the Hawaiian (Polynesian) goddess of Fire and volcano, was born in Honua-Mea, part of Tahiti. She was one of a family of six daughters and seven sons born to Haumea (a very ancient Earth goddess) and Kane Milohai (creator of the sky, earth and upper heavens). She was exiled by her father because of her temper, and for fighting with her elder water-goddess sister Na-maka-o-Kaha'i, whose husband Pele had seduced. Pele's oldest brother, the king of the sharks, Kamohoali'i, gave her a great canoe, upon which she carried her little sister, Hi'iaka (or Hi'iaka i ka poli o Pele) who is know as the patroness of hula dancers, in egg-form over the wide expanse of the seas, sailing on this great canoe eventually to find Hawaii.

When Pele got to Hawaii, she first used her Pa'oa, or o'o stick on Kauai -- striking deep into the earth but she was attacked by her older sister and left for dead. Pele recovered and fled to Oahu, where she dug several "fire pits," including the crater we now called Diamond Head, in Honolulu. After that, Pele left her mark on the island of Molokai before traveling further southeast to Maui and creating the Haleakala Volcano. Namakaokahai, Pele's older sister, realized she was still alive and she went to Maui to do battle.

Finally, the epic battle ended near Hana, Maui, where Pele was torn apart by her sister. Legend says her bones remain as a hill called Ka-iwi-o-Pele. Upon death, she became a god and found a home on Mauna Kea, on the Island of Hawai'i. Pele dug her final and eternal fire pit, Halemaumau Crater, at the summit of Kilauea Volcano. She is said to live there to this day and is thought to be very happy there because it was the Navel of the World, Ka Piko o ka Honua -- were the gods began creation. Sightings of Pele have been reported all over the islands of Hawaii for hundreds of years, but especially near craters and her home, Mount Kilauea, one of the most active volcanoes on Earth. Pele is known for her violent temper, but also for her common visits among mortals. She is said to appear either as a tall, beautiful young woman or as a very old, ugly and frail woman.




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PELE

Hawaiian Goddess of Fire and the Kilauea Volcano. She is said to appear as a wise crone or a beautiful young woman with a fiery temperament. As a young woman, Pele met Lohiau; they fell in love and were wed. After awhile she longed to return to her volcano and so left him. Pining away for her, Lohiau nearly died but Pele sent her sister Hiiaka to retrieve him. Hiiaka and Lohiau fell in love during their journey and Pele, after an initial outburst, in an act of generosity, allowed them to leave and be married. She found a new lover, Kamapua'a, whose temperament matched her own and even now their fiery courtship continues.



http://www.goddessmyths.com/Lucina-Ptesan-Wi.html


KAPIOLANI AND PELE

THE story of the high chiefess Kapiolani and her conflict with Pele, the goddess of Kilauea, in December, 1824, is historic. It belongs, however, to the volcanoes of the Hawaiian Islands, and is more important than any myth.

Kapiolani was the daughter of Keawe-mau-hili, who was the high chief of the district of Hilo. He was the uncle of Kiwalao, the young king of the island Hawaii, who was killed by Kamehameha's warriors when Kamehameha became king of that island.

Kapiolani as a little child was in the camp with her father at the time of the battle. She was in danger of death, but some men carried her over

{p. 153}

the mountains through a multitude of difficulties back to Hilo. She became a tall, portly woman, with keen black eyes and an engaging countenance, a queen in appearance when with other chiefs or chiefesses. She was not a queen, nor was she even a princess, although by blood relationship she belonged to the royal family. She was the wife of Na-ihe, who was the high chief of the district of Kona on the western side of the island Hawaii.

Na-ihe (The spears) was said to be the national orator or best speaker on government affairs among the chiefs. Kapiolani (The-bending-arch-of-heaven) was very intelligent, quick-witted, and fearless. They were both so influential that they were chosen by the great Kamehameha, as members of his council of chiefs and were retained by his son Liholiho, or Kamehameha II.

When the missionaries of the American Board from Boston arrived, April 4, 1820, at Kailua Bay on the western coast of Hawaii, they landed in territory nominally controlled by Na-ihe and Kapiolani, although at that particular time the young king, Liholiho, and his court were in Kona, and were the real rulers.

However, when the missionaries had reduced the language to writing and had begun to print leaflets for spelling and reading, in 1822, Na-ihe and Kapiolani were among the first chiefs to

{p. 154}

welcome instruction and accept Christianity as far as they could understand it.

In 1823 a delegation of missionaries went around the island Hawaii. They visited the volcano Kilauea and wrote the first really good description of the crater and its activity. The natives were astonished to see the perfect safety of the missionaries, although the worship and tabus of Pele were absolutely ignored. Ohelo[1] berries and strawberries growing on the brink of the crater were freely eaten and the lake of fire explored without even a thought of fear of the goddess.

In the course of their journey the missionaries met a priestess of Pele. The priestess, assuming a haughty air, said: "I am Pele, I shall never die. Those who follow me, if part of their bones are taken to Kilauea, will live in the bright fire there." A missionary said, "Are you Pele?" She said, "Yes, I am Pele," then proceeded to state her powers. A chief of low rank who had been a royal messenger under Kamehameha, and who was making the journey with the missionaries, interrupted the woman, saying: "Then it is true, you are Pele, and have destroyed the land, killed the people, and have spoiled the fishing-grounds. If I were the king I would throw you into the sea." The priestess was quick-witted

[1. Vaccinium penduliformis--var. reticulatum.]

{p. 155}

and said that truly she had done some harm, but the rum of the foreigners was far more destructive.

All this prepared the way for Kapiolani to attempt to break down the worship of the fire-goddess. It must be remembered that Kapiolani had been under the influence of thoughtful civilization only about three years when she decided that she would attack the idolatry which, of all idol worship, was the most firmly entrenched in the hearts of her people because it was founded on the mysterious forces of nature. She accepted implicitly the word of the missionaries, that their God was the one god of nature. Therefore she had rejected the fire-goddess with all the other deities formerly worshipped in Hawaii. She was, however, practically alone in her determination to strike a blow against the worship of Pele.

Priests of Pele were numerous on the island Hawaii. Women were among those of highest rank in that priesthood. Many of the personal followers of Kapiolani were worshippers. Even Na-ihe, her husband, had not been able to free himself from superstitious fears. When Kapiolani said that she was going to prove the falsity of the worship of Pele, there was a storm of heartfelt opposition. The priests and worshippers of Pele honestly believed that divine

{p. 156}

punishment would fall on her. Those who were Christians were afraid that some awful explosion might overwhelm the company, as a large body of warriors had been destroyed thirty-four years before.

Na-ihe, still strongly under the influence of superstition, urged her not to go. All this opposition arose from her warm friends. When her determination was seen to be immovable, some of the priests of Pele became bitterly angry and in their rage prophesied most awful results.

When Kapiolani left her home in Kona her people, with great wailing, again attempted to persuade her to stay with them. The grief, stimulated by fear of things supernatural, was uncontrollable. The people followed their chiefess some distance with prayers and tears.

For more than a hundred miles she journeyed, usually walking, sometimes having a smooth path, but again having to cross miles of the roughest, most rugged and sharp-edged lava on the island Hawaii. At last the party came to the vicinity of the volcano. This was not by the present road, but along the smoother, better way, used for centuries on the south side of the crater toward the ocean.

Toward the close of the day they crossed steaming cracks and chasms and drew nearer

{p. 157}

to the foul-smelling, gaseous clouds of smoke which blew toward them from the great crater. Here a priestess of Pele of the highest rank came to meet the party and turn them away from the dominions of the fire-goddess unless they would offer appropriate sacrifices. She knew Kapiolani's purpose, and determined to frustrate it.

Formerly there had been a temple near the brink of the crater on the southeast side. This, according to Ellis, bore the name Oala-laua. He says, "It was a temple of Pele, of which Ka-maka-a-ke-akua (The-eye-of-God), a distinguished soothsayer who died in the reign of Kamehameha, was many years priest." The temple was apparently deserted at the time of the overthrow of the tabu in 1819, and the priests had gone to the lower and better cultivated lands of Puna, where they had their headquarters. However, they still worshipped Pele and sacrificed to her.

This priestess who faced Kapiolani was very haughty and bold. She forbade her to approach any nearer to the volcano on pain of death at the hands of the furious goddess Pele.

"Who are you?" asked Kapiolani.

"I am one in whom the God dwells."

"If God dwells in you, then you are wise and can teach me. Come and sit down."

The priestess had seen printed pages or heard

{p. 158}

about them, so she drew out a piece of kapa, or paper made from the bark of trees,[1] and saying that this was a letter from Pele began to read or rather mumble an awful curse.

The people with Kapiolani were hushed into a terrified silence, but she listened quietly until the priestess, carried beyond her depth, read a confused mass of jumbled words, and unintelligible noises, which she called "The dialect of the ancient Pele."

Then Kapiolani took her spelling-book, and a little book of a few printed hymns, and said: "You have pretended to deliver a message from your god, but we have not understood it. Now I will read you a message which you can understand, for I, too, have a letter." Then she read clearly the Biblical sentences printed in the spelling-book and some of the hymns. The priestess was silenced.

Meanwhile, the missionaries at Hilo, a hundred and fifty miles from Kona, heard that Kapiolani had started on this strenuous undertaking. They felt that some one of the Christian teachers should be with her. Mr. Ruggles had been without shoes for several months and could not go. Mr. Goodrich, the other missionary stationed at Hilo, was almost as badly off, but was more accustomed

[1. Plants used for kapa were wauke, olona, mamaki, poulu, akala, hau, maaloa, and the mulberry.]

{p. 159}

to travelling barefoot. So he went up through the tangled masses of sharp-edged lava, grass, strong-leaved ferns, and thick woods to meet the chiefess as she came to the crater.

Kapiolani passed the priestess, went on to the crater, met Mr. Goodrich, and was much affected by the effort he had made to aid her in her attempt to break down the worship of Pele. It was now evening, and a hut was built to shelter her until the next day came, when she could have the opportunity of descending into the crater.

Mr. Richards, a missionary, later wrote as follows: "Along the way to the volcano she was accosted by multitudes and entreated not to proceed. She answered, 'If I am destroyed, then you may all believe in Pele, but if I am not, you must all turn to the true writings.'"

The great crater at that time had a black ledge or shelf, below which the active lakes and fountains of fire, in many places, broke through and kept turbulent a continually changing mass over five miles in circumference. Here in the large cones built up by leaping lava, the natives said, were the homes of the family of Pele. Here the deities amused themselves in games. The roaring of the furnaces and crackling of flames was the music of drums beaten for the accompaniment of the household dances. The red flaming surge was the surf wherein they played.

{p. 160}

As the morning light brought a wonderful view of the Lua Pele (The-pit-of-Pele) with its great masses of steam and smoke rising from the immense field of volcanic activity below, and as the rush of mighty waves of lava broke again and again against the black ledge with a roar exceeding that of a storm-driven surf beating upon rocky shores, and as fierce explosions of gases bursting from the underworld in a continual cannonade, deafened the ears of the company, Kapiolani prepared to go down to defy Pele.

This must have been one of the few grand scenes of history. There was the strong, brave convert to Christianity standing above the open lake of fire, the red glowing lava rolling in waves below, with rough blocks of hardened lava on every side, the locks (Pele's hair) of the fire-goddess, torn out and whirling around in the air, the timid fearful faces of the people and their attitude of terror and anxiety showing the half-hope that the tabu might be broken and the half-dread lest the evil spirit might breathe fire upon them and destroy them at once.

Mr. Richards says: "A man whose duty it was to feed Pele, by throwing berries and the like into the volcano, entreated her to go no farther. 'And what,' said she, 'will be the harm?' The man replied, 'You will die by

{p. 161}

Pele.' Kapiolani answered, 'I shall not die by your god. That fire was kindled by my God.' The man was silent and she went onward, descending several hundred feet, and there joined in a prayer to Jehovah. She also ate the berries consecrated to Pele, and threw stones into the volcano."

Bingham in his "Sandwich Islands" says: "Then with the terrific bellowing and whizzing of the volcanic gases they mingled their voices in a solemn hymn of praise to the true God, and at the instance of the chiefess, Alapai, one of Kapiolani's attendants, led them in prayer."

The party returned to the brink of the crater, and journeyed down to Hilo.

Alexander in the "History of the Hawaiian People" says, "This has justly been called one of the greatest acts of moral courage ever performed."

Richards states that the leader of Kapiolani's party said to him: "All the people of the district saw that she was not injured and have pronounced Pele to be powerless."

The influence of Kapiolani against this most influential form of idolatrous worship was felt throughout the whole nation.

In 1836, twelve years later, Rev. Titus Coan wrote about the coming of many natives into a Christian life. He says: "In 1836, twelve

{p. 162}

years after the visit of Kapiolani, among these converts was the High Priest of the volcano, He was more than six feet tall, and was of lofty bearing. He had been an idolater, a drunkard, an adulterer, a robber, and a murderer. His sister was more haughty and stubborn. She, too, was tall and majestic in her bearing. At length she yielded and with her brother became a docile member of the church."

But it was Lord Tennyson who set down for posterity the heroic deed of the great queen in the following beautiful poem:

{p. 163}

KAPIOLANI.

I.

When from the terrors of Nature a people have fashion'd and worship a Spirit of Evil
Blest be the Voice of the Teacher who calls to them,
"Set yourselves free!"

II

Noble the Saxon who hurled at his Idol a valorous weapon in olden England!
Great, and greater, and greatest of women, island heroine Kapiolani
Clomb the mountain, and flung the berries and dared the Goddess, and freed the people
Of Hawa-i-ee!

III

A people believing that Peelè the Goddess would wallow in fiery riot and revel
On Kilauea,
Dance in a fountain of flame with her devils or shake with her thunders and shatter her island,
Rolling her anger
Thro' blasted valley and flowing forest in blood-red cataracts down to the sea!

{p. 164}

IV.

Long as the lava-light
Glares from the lava-take,
Dazing the starlight;
Long as the silvery vapor in daylight,
Over the mountain
Floats, will the glory of Kapiolani be mingled with either on Hawa-i-ee.

V.

What said her Priesthood?
"Woe to this island if ever a woman should handle or gather the berries of Peelè
Accursed were she!
And woe to this island if ever a woman should climb to the dwelling of Peelè the Goddess!
Accursed were she!"

VI.

One from the Sunrise
Dawned on His people and slowly before him
Vanished shadow-like
Gods and Goddesses,
None but the terrible Peelè remaining as Kapiolani
Ascended her mountain,
Baffled her priesthood,
Broke the Taboo,
Dipt to the crater,
Called on the Power adored by the Christian and crying, "I dare her, let Peelè avenge herself!"
Into the flame-billows dashed the berries, and drove the demon from Hawa-i-ee.

http://sacred-texts.com/pac/hlov/hlov25.htm


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