Contemporary Legend – Hawaii

“There is an Ancient Hawaiian Goddess named Pele, who’s the Goddess of Volcanoes. She is a very jealous, emotional and bitter type of Goddess. Some say she got chased away from Tahiti and ended up in Hawaii because she seduced her sister’s husband. She can also control lava of any volcano at will and if you upset her she can bring you bad fortune in many different forms.

The way you can tell that it’s her is because she’s clad in all white and her eyes are red. Some people say they have seen her by the side of the road. It’s been rumored that if you don’t pick her up when you see her, she can do horrible things to you. I’ve also heard of this one guy who picked her up once out of fear and when he tried to light a cigarette, she snapped her fingers and the cigarette lit. She won’t talk on the ride and you can’t kick her out because that’ll upset her, she’ll get out when she wants to. With this particular guy, I heard that she eventually got off at a gas station after hours of driving around. I’ve also heard of many guys picking her up at night because she can also take on a very beautiful, seductive form.”

The Informant, a Hawaiian resident of Chinese ethnicity, heard this story when she was in High School. Since Pele is one of the most well known Goddesses in Hawaii, there are many urban legends, myths and ghost stories about her. She is also very deep-rooted in Hawaii’s history because some natives claim that she created Hawaii because she controls the volcanoes. The informant grew up in Hawaii and first learned about Pele in elementary school as a mythical figure. She learned other stories about her later on. These legends and tales are especially popular among campers and at parties.

I think this story is very interesting and has several parallels to the folklore of La Llorona. Just like La Llorona, Pele’s story is one of dangerous feminine power and mystique. It is also centered on betrayal, seduction and taking of different forms. Whereas La lorona is often seen with water, fire and volcano is Pele’s trademark. Similar to the Mexican Goddess, the informant also mentioned that Pele has other gentler forms.  Both figures are very multi-dimensional, popular and invite lots of discussion resulting in tons and tons of variations of the same figure.


Ray, Sondra. Pele’s Wish: Secrets of Hawaiian Masters and Eternal Life. Makawao,

Hawaii: Inner Ocean Publishing, 2005.