Pele, Hawaiian Lava Queen


Jordan was born and raised in Seattle until she was 10, then her family decided to move to Hawaii where she still resides when not attending school at University of Southern California.

Original Script: “Pele is the Hawaiian goddess (ghost?) of Lava, and I am from the big island which is one of the few with a current active volcano. Pele is well known on the Big Island (Kona) because it is said that she resides on the active volcano sites of Kona. Pele is known for her divine powers regarding lava and comes in three varying forms: an old woman, a really beautiful woman, or a white dog. The stories regarding Pele tend to involve a family driving through the mountains and seeing an old woman asking for help/hitchhiking and when the family ignores her plea for help the car then crashes. Additionally there is a specific form of lava rocks that are shaped very similarly to tears and the natives call them Pele’s tears or the Tears of Pele. One day my boyfriend’s mom found one and took it to a nearby pool and then her car broke down. The car wouldn’t start, even after being jumped. Then my boyfriend’s mom decided to put the tears of Pele back and the car began to work completely fine again, almost as if Pele didn’t want her tears to be taken by us. Pele is very respected because she is the goddess of lava and her powers are said to have formed all the Islands of Hawaii, but Pele is also feared due to the known ideology that if you cross Pele she is quick to avenge.”

Background information about the Piece by the informant: In Hawaii, Pele is well known, feared, and also loved by all. Jordan herself doesn’t necessarily believe in the evil powers of Pele, but she said that she also “doesn’t not believe” and that she herself would never do anything to make Pele angry.


Thoughts about the piece: This story reminds me a lot of the Irish and Celtic ghost stories that we studied in class due to similar spectrum of beliefs in both places. Jordan mentioned that across the state people tell stories of these different taboos and ghosts/gods/goddesses and while not everyone says they do full-heartedly believe in them, no one will admit that they don’t believe in them. This legend also resembles the stories told by Native Americans in that the main ghostly figure can appear in many different figures and even can appear as animals and if you treat the form it comes in wrong or take advantage of the gifts the figure gives, you will then be cursed.