The legendary fire goddess Pele awakens: The eruption of the Manua Lao Volcano in Hawaii

It was a just one of many warm and peaceful Pacific nights in Hawaii when suddenly a rumbling began on November 27 around 11:30 pm. The Mauna Loa, one of the largest active volcanoes on Earth, erupted more violently and quickly than experts had expected. Hot lava powerfully made its way through the rocks down to the sea, leaving the surprised witnesses astonished and fascinated.

While many scientists puzzle over the causes of the sudden outbreak, many indigenous Hawaiians recognize a clear sign: the volcano goddess Pele has awakened.

The Kānaka Maoli and the goddess: A History of Resilience and Cultural Heritage in the Hawaiian Islands

The Hawaiian Islands have a rich and complex history. The indigenous people of Hawaii, known as Kānaka Maoli, have lived on the islands for over 1500 years. Genetic research has shown that the Kānaka Maoli are descended from Polynesian settlers, who brought their own culture, spirituality, and beliefs to the islands.

However, the arrival of the first Europeans, beginning with British Captain James Cook in 1778, marked the start of a long and difficult period of colonization for the Hawaiian people. Over the course of the 19th century, European and American interests exerted increasing control over the islands, suppressing many aspects of traditional Hawaiian culture and society.

When Christian missionaries arrived in Hawaii in 1820, they brought with them a new religion that was largely foreign to the indigenous people of the islands. Despite the support of some members of the Hawaiian nobility, the missionaries were not very successful in converting the majority of the population. While most Kānaka Maoli eventually converted to Christianity, often under duress, the old beliefs and practices continued to be maintained and passed down through the generations.

And nothing symbolizes the Kānaka Maoli’s inner fire better than their goddess Pele, who is both, the benevolent and cruel guardian of fire, and the soul of the volcano Mauna Loa.

Magma flooding the land. Photo:pixabay/WikiImages

The Eternal Flame – Pele, Goddess of the Volcano

Legend has it that Pele was once a beautiful young woman, the daughter of the chief of the gods. But her father, enraged by her rebellious spirit, cast her out of the divine realm and sent her wandering the earth. She wandered for many years, searching for a place to call her own, until she finally came to the lush and verdant islands of Hawaii.

There, Pele found her home in the fiery depths of the volcano, where she harnessed the power of the molten lava and used it to create new land. But her power was not without its dangers. She was a fierce and jealous goddess, and would not tolerate any rivals in her domain. She waged war against the other gods and goddesses, and even turned against the Kānaka Maoli when they displeased her.

Despite her fearsome temper, the Kānaka Maoli continued to worship Pele, for she was also the source of their prosperity. The lava she created was fertile ground for crops, and the steam vents she opened provided heat and water for the people.

But the goddess Pele’s wrath was never far from the surface. She was known to unleash her fury upon the land, causing earthquakes and devastating eruptions that could lay waste to entire villages. Those who dared to cross her or offend her would suffer her terrible temper, and many a brave warrior had met their end at the hands of the fiery goddess.

Yet despite the dangers she posed, the legend of Pele remains a powerful and enduring part of Hawaiian culture. She is feared and respected, but also loved and celebrated, for she is the embodiment of the Kānaka Maoli’s connection to the land and their rich spiritual heritage. Though she may be a force of destruction, she is also the bringer of new life.

The newest eruption – Science and spirit

There is no doubt, many Kānaka Maoli preserved their ancient culture, including the spiritual side of life. Nevertheless, one thing is clear: that does not stop them from viewing the eruption of the Manua Lao through a modern and scientific lens.

Still, as the lava flows down the slopes of the mountain, many Kānaka Maoli watch in fascination, mixed with a touch a fear. Some Hawaiians believe that Pele is calling to them, inviting them to join her in the fiery depths of the earth.

But most of the Kānaka Maoli will stay behind, offering prayers and gifts to Pele in the hopes of placating her. They will offer her fruits and flowers, as well as precious objects.

In the aftermath of the eruption, the Kānaka Maoli will continue to worship Pele, giving thanks for the new land she has created and for sparing their lives. Hawaiians will honor her with songs and dances, questioning what message Pele this time wants to send. And though they may fear her, they will always revere her as the goddess of the volcano, the eternal flame that burns within the heart of their land.

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