Greek Goddess Hera

The Goddess Pele

goddess Pele


Pele, Volcano Goddess of Fire

According to myth, the islands of Hawaii owe their very existence to Pele, the goddess of fire, best known as ‘the volcano goddess’. Like most other deities who play the starring role in creation myths, Pele held both the power to create and to destroy.

Pele had to leave town in a hurry--her angry sister (a Tahitian sea goddess) was gunning for her. (Some say it was on account of Pele's fun-and-games that involved her brother-in-law.) With the angry sea goddess threatening to drown Pele with tidal waves, Pele's parents loaded her, her brothers and her sisters into a canoe and sent them sailing in search of safety.

Eventually the siblings found a place where they could stop, a tiny string of islands that was home to a handful of human tribes and a few snow goddesses who lived in the mountains.

Pele set about trying to make a new home for her family, but it was proving difficult because the jealous snow goddesses kept sending blizzards her way. Hopping from one tiny island to another to escape the hard freezes, Pele kept moving southward only to encounter tidal waves sent by her vengeful sister.

Goddess Pele

Soon the two were waging a ferocious battle. Though she won, Pele did not emerge unscathed.

Pele’s fires rose up out of the trembling earth, spewing rivers of lava fiery lava into the ocean, driving the sea away from the coast. As the lava cooled it added to the land mass, and the small atoll was transformed into the beautiful Big Island of Hawaii.

After her death, she became a spirit and chose to live within the crater of a volcano; she had become a shape-shifter, one who could assume any form she wished.

Meaning of Pele Myths

Though Pele now lived inside her volcanoes, her exuberant spirit was not to be contained. Legends about Pele and her many lovers and rivals are numerous and colorful. Never able to win a clear victory over her rivals, the tension of these opposing forces kept everything in balance.

Like the volcano’s lava that creates new land, the goddess Pele reminds us that, even fiery eruptions and emotional upheavals are followed by new life and change.

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