I love to explore the Divine Feminine and write about Goddesses. For a list of those, click on the link: Goddesses. In order to become more balanced within ourselves and, through that, to bring greater balance and harmony to the world around us, we must find greater balance between the masculine and feminine energies within ourselves that each one of us possesses, regardless of physical gender or any other ways of self-identification.
Fire, Lightning, Wind & Volcanoes
Pele is a Firegoddess from the South Pacific, the Hawaiian goddess of volcanos. She rules over fire, lightning, wind and volcanoes. Like all the indigenous people of the South Pacific, Pele once came by boat, or better, a double-hulled canoe and made her home in there.
Legend has it that her place of birth was the mystical floating island of Kuaihelani. It was also the place from which she fled from her older sister, the Seagoddess Namakaokaha‘i. In one version of the tale, Pele fell in love with her sister’s husband, thus igniting the older sibling’s wrath. Pele fled in the company of several of her brothers and an egg which contained her younger unborn sister, Hi’iaka. Pele fled North while pursued by her angry sister.
After travelling all the way up the Western islands of Hawaii and down the other side, where Pele builds a firepit on each, but is being chased off by her sister catching up with her and extinguishing the fire again. When Pele finally reaches Maui, she builds her fire pit so high up on a mountain that her older sister cannot reach it, but waits for Pele to come down to the foot of the mountain again.
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The Layers of the Legend
At this point, Pele is still mortal and has to battle her sister for her life. However, Namakaokaha‘i tears Pele apart, thinking she has killed her. Pele’s bones are buried into a hillside and after the death of her physical form, she travels in spirit form, after having grown into her goddess self, to the big main island of Hawaii where she makes her home to this day.
Like so many tales in Hawaiian lore, the story of the fire goddess Pele is rich with various layers of meaning. First of all, the story describes the geological development of the region. beginning with the oldest, Kure Atoll, in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, and ending at the youngest, Hawai‘i Island, at the chain’s southeastern tip. A good thousand years before Western science discovered tectonic plates, Stone Age Polynesians understood the chronology of the archipelago!
The battle of the two sisters symbolises the clash between the two elemental forces of the ocean and the volcanic action in the area brought on by tectonic movement. This beautiful phenomenon between water and earth can still be observed to this day when magma flows into the sea along Hawaii’s Puna coast.
On a human scale, the battle of the sisters was a coming of page story. In Hawaiian society, everyone is involved with bringing up children, not only the parents, and older siblings are often the most challenging, knowing what you have to go through to mature. Thus, Pele’s older sister Namakaokaha‘i challenges Pele to mature into her divinity and become a goddess in her own right.