Pele: Volcano Goddess

Abstract: The goddess Pele also known as the Volcano goddess is a trickster since she favors testing the kindness of people by transforming into an old lady and seeing how she is treated on the Island of Hawaii. Depending on the response, Pele will either protect your home from a volcanic eruption or destroy it. Pele moves depending on the Volcanos active on Hawaii and she currently resides on the big island which explains the Eruption which occurred a few years ago on the island. A volcano is only active when Pele wakes from her slumber. 

Background: DM is a student at the University of Southern California who is a native Hawaiin and grown up with many Hawaiin tales to explain how her place of living came to be. She finds great interest in the history of her island She grew up her entire life in Hawaii and with that, has heard a lot of folklore. After reading about famous Hawaiin Folklore, I saught to ask her about what she knows about her Island and its origins.

DM: Ok there is another person which I’ve heard of named Pele and she’s the goddess of the volcanos around the islands. She’s typically asleep but when she wakes, a volcano will become active but she also moves around like right now she’s hanging out on the big island which is where the volcano erupted a year or two ago. I don’t remember exactly when it erupted but there was footage of people’s homes either being spared by the lava or being consumed but it and that’s because those people were either good or bad to Pele. She finds this out by turning into an old woman and walk among the people to test who will be nice to her and who will anger her. That’s why she either spills lava on people’s homes or leaves them alone. As you can she has like a short temper and is easily agitated and she’s very deceitful as well so good thing she’s not living on my island right now. 

P: So what does she look any different from other Hawaiin women or is she very blended in with those around her? 

DM: She’s untraceable like you can’t tell if she’s there or not so you have more reason to be nice to everyone around you because you might make a volcano goddess mad.


It seems fitting that a volcano goddess has a hot head and is easily ticked off by people’s actions or how she is treating when she is tricking the islanders. The Hawaiin people personified one of their most powerful threats which are the volcanoes, a looming threat that seeks to destroyer but also creates more land for the natives. Pele turning herself into a which seems like a very common trend in many stories such as snow white or Beauty and the best where old women represent treachery and seek to cause chaos toward a person or a group of people for their own personal benefit whether it be the enjoyment of others suffering or punishing those for their misdeeds. Pele is an example of a goddess who gives and takes to those depending on how she is treated. Pele seems to be more than a myth because her story also comes with a lesson. Treat those who are older and wiser than you with respect and goodwill come from it such as protection and learning of secrets that may guide your own path.