Pele – The Hawaiian Volcano and Fire Goddess

Pele is the Goddess of Fire and Volcanoes of the Hawaiian people. She is “She Who Shapes the Sacred Land”.

Pele is a Destructress-Creatrix. She embodies Divine Creative Power that here manifests as the Volcano Kilauea on the Big Island of Hawaii. Pele destroys in order to clear the way for new creation. It is Pele who has shaped the island to what it is and continues to do so to this day.

She is “Pele Honua Mea” – “Pele of the Sacred Earth”.

She is “Pele Ai Honua” – “Pele Who Devours the Earth”

Pele is the Divine Flame. She is the Flame of Passion, the Fire of Purpose. Pele embodies Dynamic Creation, Drive and Action. She exudes Energy. Pele is Raw Power.

Pele represents confidence and courage. She is beautiful, awe-inspiring, strong, powerful, creative, active, enthusiastic, spontaneous, alive, passionate, hot and eruptive. Pele is dangerous, yet giving and kind.

Pele is the Regeneratrix of the Dead. She receives the souls of those who have died and renews them for rebirth with Her Fires of Creation.

It is said that Pele’s origins lie on the island of Tahiti in the South Seas. There, legend says, She once lived with Her mother, the Earth Goddess Haumea, and Her many sisters and brothers. Pele, being a Fire Goddess, has always been fascinated with fires and flames, which makes Her sister Namaka, the Goddess of the Sea, very angry. Pele, as the fiery volcano, and Namaka, as the sea, have always been at odds with each other. As soon as Pele starts to burn and bursts out in a hot gush of fiery lava, Her sister Namaka with Her tidal waves quenches the fires and cools the burning flow of molten rocks.

One day Pele had had enough and decided to move away from Tahiti. She set off in a canoe cradling the egg of Her unborn sister Hi’iaka within Her armpit. Hi’iaka would one day become the Goddess of Hula. Their journey was a long one and many times Pele tried to settle on some of the islands they encountered. But every time She tried to set up Her burning volcano-home Her flames would be put out, either by Her sister Namaka who continued to pursue Her in the form of blizzards and giant waves, or the many Snow Goddesses who Pele and Hi’iaka found living on the top of island mountains.

Eventually Pele reached the area where today lie the islands of Hawaii. She caused the volcanoes under the sea to erupt and thus created the islands we know today. She Herself settled as the Volcano Kilauea on the Big Island. Here, She’s been able to live in peace with neither Her sister – the Sea – nor the Goddesses of Snow reaching Her. However, to this day you can witness Pele and Namaka fighting whenever the molten lava is cooled by the splash of the waves as it reaches the shores.

Pele loves Her home and guards it jealously. It is said that Her anger is easily roused when Her island body isn’t honoured and tourists take Her lava stones with them as souvenirs. Then She stamps Her foot so that the earth shakes. It is even said that those who dare to take Pele’s stones away with them will be cursed with bad luck. True stories tell of how tourists have returned the taken pieces to the island together with offerings and even letters of forgiveness to the Goddess. They say that their bout of bad luck breaks abruptly after that.

Pele has many forms. Besides being the volcano, the lava and the fire’s flame, Pele is also symbolised by the “Ohi’a Lehua”, a tree that grows quickly on fresh lava flows. The lehua flowers are sacred to Her, as is the Hawaiian honey creeper that drinks the nectar from the lehua blossoms.

Pele sometimes transforms Herself into a young maiden or an old crone with a white dog. Reports tell of how a young woman with long brown hair wearing a red dress is sometimes seen dancing on the rim of the Kilauea crater. Others tell of an old woman who wanders the area close to the volcano with Her little white dog. She sometimes asks for a cigarette which She lights with no more than the snap of Her fingers. Grandmother Pele or Tutu Pele, the old woman, is the most commonly reported sighting of Pele in human form. Tutu Pele is greatly beloved by the people of Hawaii, for She gives advice, passes on wisdom and warns of impending dangers. She disappears into thin air as quickly as She arrived.

The people of Hawaii consider Pele to be their “aumakua” or Guardian Spirit. Before the spreading of white man’s memes on the islands, Pele’s priestesses would wear robes with burned sleeves and hems. They carried a wand symbolising the “Paoa” staff that Pele is said to have used to create Her volcanic craters. Despite modern belief systems, Pele’s people still remember their Goddess and continue to bring Her offerings of fish, flowers and fruit.

According to Merlin Stone in “Ancient Mirrors of Womanhood” despite discouragement of Pele’s worship by Christian missionaries “…when Mauna Loa erupted in 1880, sixty-three year old Princess Ruth Keelikolani still knew the ancient chants of the priestesses of Pele.” In order to protect the town of Hilo, the princess walked up to the edge of the lava flow, reciting the ancient chants and presenting Pele’s lava stream with gifts of silk cloths and brandy (to represent the ancient sacred “awa” drink). The eruption stopped the very next day before the lava ever reached Hilo! A similar thing occurred in 1955 when the village of Kapoho was threatened. Villagers offered Pele gifts of food and tobacco and again, the lava stream stopped just before reaching the village.


Call to Pele
Ka Wahine Ahi

Aloha Pele Honua Mea!
Aloha Pele Ai Honua!
E komo mai!

I smell sulphur in the air and feel heat rising from deep in the Earth below.
The ground trembles beneath my feet.
You light the night in crimson, gold and orange,
As lava and flame flow from Your domain at the world’s core.

I ask You to hear my call and grace me with Your awesome presence.
I ask You to hear my call and bestow Your Protection on me.
I ask You to hear my call and enlighten me with Your wisdom.
I ask You to hear my call and heed my entreaty.

Ignite my passion!
Kindle my fire!
Send Your blazing energy to inspire!

– from


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. lindaballou
    Jun 18, 2016 @ 17:45:24

    You might enjoy my book Wai-nani, A Voice from Old Hawai’i. Her story is a celebration of the people of old.


  2. Al
    Sep 12, 2017 @ 01:22:53

    Sort of like the Hindus worshipping their Ancient Goddess Kali.
    If they still do, why can’t the Hawaiians? Indeed, ALL of the Polynesians!


  3. Trackback: Goddesses of Life and Death: Pele – The Bliss Institute

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