general
Myths
Narrative

Pele and Hi’iaka

Informant: My friend was born and raised in Hawaii. He grew up in a culture rich in stories, myths, and legends, a few of which he shared with me.
Original Piece: “So Pele is the goddess of fire and lava, and Hi’iaka is the goddess of the sea. That’s the background.
So one day, Pele fell into one deep sleep, a sleep so deep her spirit jumped out of her body and started wandering around the island. And her spirit kept wandering and wandering, until it heard the drums of a hula dance in Kauai. And the spirit goes to Kauai and sees the hula, and her spirit takes over one of the female dancers. And she in love with the chief of Kauai, Lohiau. And they fall deeply in love, but Pele has to leave because she has to go back into her body. So after three days she goes back to her body, and she wake up, but she’s too weak to move. So she tells her sister Hi’iaka to voyage to go to Kauai and bring back Lohiau. So then Pele gives her forty days to get Lohiau and come back so that, I don’t know, they can have a wonderful life together. SO Hi’iaka ventures out and… there’s a whole series of events that happen. But then they make it to Lohiau on the island of Kauai on the fortieth day. And they’re like, ‘oh no we better hurry’ because Pele has a bit of a rage problem. So then they find the village where Lohiau was, and they’re asking around for him, but then… then a villager tells them that Lohiau died because his lover left them. So his body’s there but his spirit is gone. So the spirit is just wandering around…and they can’t find the spirit. So Hi’iaka brings the body back to Pele. And Pele sees the body and gets super pissed, and doesn’t even let them explain themselves, and goes full rage and consumes them with fire. And Hi’iaka survives because she’s a god, but Lohiau body gets burned. And Hi’iaka is super mad because she burned the body, so Hi’iaka brings the body to a sacred mountain. So she does a bunch of chants for the body. And then Lohiau’s spirit is still wandering around, but it takes over a guy on Māui, and he climbs up the mountain and finds Hi’iaka with Lohiau’s body, and Hi’iaka and Lohiau fall in love. They fall in love… and they come back down the mountain. Pele finds out about them falling in love, gets super pissed. Hi’iaka and Pele battle it out in the east, and all the fire and water make the big island of Hawaii. Hi’iaka wins and Pele is sent to the pits of Kilauea, the active volcano of Hawaii, and lives there. And Hi’iaka goes back to Lohiau.”
Context of Performance: We were having lunch when I asked him if he remembered any folktales from home.
Thoughts about the Piece: I love this piece, it was beautifully performed and well told. I love how it plays into the modern landscape of Hawaii.

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