The legend of Pele, being an oral one and in the Hawaiian language, has often been translated in different ways. The main points, however, are generally similar. Pele came to Hawaii seeking to find a home suitable for her and her siblings. She dug holes into the earth only to find water, which wouldn’t suit her fiery disposition. She then came across Hawaii’s Big Island and created the Kilauea Volcano to serve as her home.
Being a bit of a promiscuous troublemaker with a known temper, there are many stories of Pele and her lovers that end in fire and death. The creation of the Ohi`a lehua tree is one such story. This story says that Pele became enamored with a mortal by the name of Ohi`a. But he would not have her, because he was already in love with a woman namedLehua. Furious, Pele killed them both only to later be filled with remorse. She turned the body of Ohi`a into a shrub and filled the branches with red flowers from Lehua’s body, so that they could always remain together. This shrub is sacred to Pele and it’s said that the flowers should never be picked, in doing so the lovers are separated and it causes poor weather for the island.
It’s believed by the islanders that the spirit of Pele still resides within the volcano. The fact that it’s still active only adds fuel to the fire, so to speak. She has made appearances as a young woman with flowing black hair or as an old crone asking for assistance. In some instances she is accompanied by a white dog. In others, she is the white dog. In all cases she is seen as a prelude to a minor eruption from the volcano. Especially if those she approaches refuse to help her.In 1990 there was a lava flow that destroyed the village of Kalapana. Surprisingly, several homes were inexplicably spared from destruction. It’s said that all of the homes that were spared had offerings to Pele, somewhere on their property.
If you’re interested in seeing Pele’s work firsthand, then this trail is a must. Not to mention the beautiful tropical forest that you get to walk through before witnessing the destruction of nature that an active volcano can create. If a beautiful woman or an old crone asks you for help, it would be wise to please her.