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Home  |  Gods   |  Oceanian Gods   |  Polynesian Gods   |  Hawaiian Gods   |  Pele : The Godess of Fire

Pele : The Godess of Fire

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At a glance

Description
Origin Polynesian Mythology
Classification Gods
Family Members Kanehoalani (Father), Haumea (Mother), Namakaokahai (Sister), Kamohoalii (Brother)
Region Hawaii
Associated With Fire, Volcanoes

Pele

Introduction

Pele, also referred to as Madam Pele, is the goddess of Hawaii. She is the main deity of a pre-western contact culture that was centred around a volcano and had priests, temples, and rituals. During this time, Hawaiians lived near the volcano and experienced volcanic activity and the Pele cult was the strongest near the volcano.

Today, we barely know what Pele is and how she is related to Hawaiian religion. There are several reasons why this lack of knowledge is so significant, including the lack of a written language, the spread of Christianity, and Europeans who visited the islands often making limited observations. While the volcano goddess was highly regarded, Pele was not at the top of the hierarchy. The four major gods that were considered significant during this period were Kane, Lono, Ku, and Kanaloa. There were also hundreds of gods beneath these four and Pele and her family were among the lesser gods.

Although the gods were not as mysterious as the people living in Hawaii, families would often trace their ancestors back to certain gods. Many people in the Big Island consider Pele to be an ancestral relation. There are many myths about Pele, and she is regarded as the most feared goddess in the region. Although the images of Pele are pretty, she is also known for being very cruel.

Explore 5 Gods of Fire from Various Mythologies Worldwide Here
Physical Traits

In one of the myths about Pele, she is depicted as a tall, attractive young woman or an elderly frail woman who usually accompanies a white dog. According to some, she is a type of elderly beggar who tests people for food and drink in order to determine if they have any. Those who are generous are rewarded while those who are cruel or greedy are punished.

Family

According to one legend, Pele was sent away to Hawaii by her parents Kanehoalani and Haumea after she had an affair with her sister, Namakaokahai’s husband and because of her temper. She then found herself in the middle of a series of feuds and infidelities.

One of the most popular stories about Pele revolves around her brother Kamohoalii, who was the king of sharks. He gave her a large canoe which they used to travel to Hawaii and when they made landfall in the islands, she was attacked by her sister, Namakaokahai. It is believed that she was able to escape and find her way to Oahu, where she established fire pits. She then travelled through the island chain and eventually made the Haleakala volcano on the island of Maui.

Upon learning that Pele had survived, the legendary Namakaokahai travelled to the island of Maui and fought with her sister near the town of Hana. She eventually found a home on the island of Hawaii Island, and she dug her final fire pit at the summit of the volcano known as Halemaumau.

Another story about Pele tells that she got married to Kamapuaa, who was the god of water. She then allegedly travelled to the Pacific Ocean and chased him with rivers of lava which is considered to be a depiction of the violent and explosive nature of a hydrovolcanic eruption, which is similar to what’s happening in Hawaii even today. Pele’s followers believe that the eruptions of lava on the Big Island’s Kilauea are a sign that the goddess is still alive and well.

Other Names

Pele is often referred to as “Madame Pele” or “Tūtū Pele” as a sign of respect. Epithets of the goddess include Pele-honua-mea (“Pele of the sacred land”) and Ka wahine ʻai honua (“The earth-eating woman”).

Powers and Abilities

For Hawaiians, Pele has emerged as a symbol of the resilience, adaptability, and power of the indigenous culture of the islands. Her fires create and destroy the land itself, forming new volcanoes that erupt, cover the land with lava, and then begin the cycle anew. She is a representative of not just the physical aspects of the Hawaiian Islands, but also of the fiery passion of Hawaiian culture. It’s commonly accepted that Pele will bring bad fortune upon anyone foolish enough to take any pieces of lava or rocks home from the islands as a souvenir.

Modern Day Influence

Pele has been a prominent feature in American modern pop culture with references in TV shows, books, music, novels, movies, anime and video games. One of the most popular versions was the presence of a character that was attributed to Pele in the American TV show Sabrina the Teenage Witch.

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Disclaimer: While it is the intention of Mythlok and its editors to keep all the information about various characters as mythologically accurate as possible, this site should not be considered mythical, legendary or folkloric doctrine in any way. We welcome you using this website for any research, journal or study but citing this website for any academic work would be at your own personal risk.
Disclaimer: While it is the intention of Mythlok and its editors to keep all the information about various characters as mythologically accurate as possible, this site should not be considered mythical, legendary or folkloric doctrine in any way. We welcome you using this website for any research, journal or study but citing this website for any academic work would be at your own personal risk.
Disclaimer: While it is the intention of Mythlok and its editors to keep all the information about various characters as mythologically accurate as possible, this site should not be considered mythical, legendary or folkloric doctrine in any way. We welcome you using this website for any research, journal or study but citing this website for any academic work would be at your own personal risk.