Pele is the ruler of the volcanoes of Hawaii and humans have no power to resist her. When Pele speaks, her word is final. She may appear as a tall beautiful young woman, or as an old woman, wrinkled and bent with age, sometimes accompanied by a white dog. When enraged she may appear as a woman all aflame or as pure flame. Her sacred name as a spirit is Ka-ula-o-ke-ahi, the redness of the fire.
Her personality is volcanic, unpredictable, impulsive and given to sudden rages and violence. Hers is both the power to destroy and the power to create new land. Tutu is an affectionate term from grandparent and Hawaiians regard Tutu Pele not with fear but with filial respect; and with a touching resignation should a lava flow consume their homes. In December 1986, lava destroyed part of the village of Kalapana. A resident, interviewed while loading his possessions into a truck said: “I love my home; lived here all my life, and my family for generations. But if Tutu take it, it’s her land.”
The story of Pele and Kamapua’a:
In the Polynesian universe, all form was created and distinguished by the pairing of opposites, and the story of Pele and Kamapua’a describes the concept of a love/hate relationship. Kamapua’a was a demi-god who could turn himself into a tall handsome chief who wore a cape to conceal the pig bristles which grew down his back, or into a gigantic eight eyed hg. He could also shape shift into various kinds of fish and plants.
His character personifies the nature of a pig, the largest land animal known to the Polynesians, that which is brought to mind by the feminist term “male chauvinist pig” does not fall short of describing Kamapua’a social behavior and appetites which frequently got him into trouble. His many amorous adventures and contests with outraged husbands were in the old days told with great relish.
Like pigs Kamapua’a preferred cool damp environments such as are found on the rainy windward sides of the islands where the stream-eroded gulches and valleys laced with waterfalls are said to have been made by the rooting of Kamapua’a as a great boar. Here too is the abundant vegetation that pigs prefer; his environmental preferences were opposite that of Pele.
One day when Pele and her sister Kapo (Goddess of dark powers, sorcery and shape shifting) were traveling they were seen by Kamapua’a. Aroused by the sight of Pele, he pursued her. Kapo, however, happened to possess a detachable vagina. To save Pele, she threw this decoy away from the direction of their flight, and Kamapua’a distracted, when off after it. The evidence for the story is found on the island of O’ahu at Koko Head, where a hill inland from Hanauma Bay shows on its eastern side the imprint made where Kapo’s decoy struck against it.
Kamapua’a could not forget his desire for Pele. He went to woo her, but she scorned him, calling him a pig and a son of a pig, and even more insulting jibes. Their taunts led to a furious battle between them.
She hurled fire and molten lava at him and chased him into the sea, but he turned himself into a fish.
Again he approached her, and again she attacked. He retaliated with storms of rain and called up great numbers of tusked hogs which overran her lands, rooting destructively. The cloudbursts almost doused her fires. When her brothers saw that Pele was losing, and that the deluge threatened to extinguish her fires and soak the sacred fire sticks, they intervened and ordered her to yield.
As may sometimes happen with opposites, Pele decided to take him as her lover. Togetherness was not their style, however, so they divided the island between them – Pele taking the drier leeward side where the mountain slopes are streaked with lava flows, and Kamapua’a taking the windward side, moist with rain and verdant with growing things.
Yet even on the dry side of the island, on recent lava flows, we may see how Pele and Kamapua’a come together. Seeds will come, rains will germinate them, vigorous roots will penetrate the barren lave, breaking it up over thousands of years until it becomes fertile soil. Pele may build the island with her lave, but it is the incessant attentions of Kamapua’a that make it fertile.
Legend of the Goddess and Creation - Hawaiian
In the beginning there was only the Darkness, an infinite formless, black nothingness. But within that void there emerged a Thought, an intelligence that brooded throughout eons of Darkness over an immensity of time and space.
And in that darkness was created the womb of the Earth Mother whom the ancients knew as Papa. Light was created, the light of the Sky, Father Wakea. In their embrace male light penetrated female darkness and from this union of opposites was created a universe of opposites.
So it was that the Universe was given form and life. For only in the marriage of light and darkness can there be form. And only in sulight can there be life and growth of living things, all of which must be fathered by light and mothered in the darkness of the womb, the egg, or the soil.
The great gods were born. Kane the Creater was the first born, and as the eldest he reigned over the others. There was Kanaloa of the Ocean, Ku, sho in many guises was patron to the works of men, and Lono, patron of agriculture and healing. These were the male ancestors of all life, the sources of all power. When these gods came to Hawaii there was a great turbulence of thunderstorms and whirlwinds, and blazes of lightning. Their eyes flashed upon the land and the earth shook as they landed upon it.
Also born was the supreme female spirit, the goddess known as Hina in some roles and as haumea in others, patroness of fertility and of women’s works; mother of lesser gods and, as La’ila’I, mother of humankind. Thus the great gods were the ancestors of the people and all other life. And in this way the people were related to all other living things.
Pele was born of Haumea in the ancient homeland of Tahiti.
Ancient Hawaiian Story/Song
From Tahiti comes the woman Pele,
From the land of Bora-Bora,
From the rising mist of Kane, dawn swelling in the sky,
From the clouds blazing over Tahiti.
Restless yearning for Hawaii seized the woman Pele:
Built was the canoe, Honua-i-akea
Your canoe, O Ka-moho-ali’i, companion for voyaging,
Lashed securely and equipped was the canoe of the gods,
The canoe for She-Who-Shapes-the-Sacred-Land to sail in.