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The Lady in the Lava

Kimberlee Leonard

Posted on May 31, 2018 20:38

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The volcanic activity in Hawaii has put the island chain on the national news map. Amidst the devastation and loss, there is something more … a legend known by locals about the Lady in the Lava.

Whether you are Hawaiian, a local to the islands, or a visitor, watching the volcano move slowly through the landscape makes you truly understand the power behind it. From the deepest parts of the Pacific Ocean, islands were born and one continues to grow. It is awe-inspiring and there is one lady behind it all.

She is known as the one “who shapes the sacred land.” She is called Pele, the Goddess of Fire, but her full name is Pelehonomaumea; and she is making her presence known on the Island of Hawaii right now. But she is not alone.

Legend tells us of two sisters, Pele and Namakaokahai who became bitter enemies over a lover, Aukelenuiaku. Pele betrayed her sister to become his wife. Her sister is Namakaokahai, the goddess of the sea and ocean waves who sent flood waters destroying Pele’s home. Pele was forced to flee to the high mountains of Mauna Loa out of the reach of her sister’s wrath.

In the latest series of volcanic eruptions and fissures opening on the Island of Hawaii, the lava has once again reached the sea. Finding the sea, the dangerous mixture of lava and salt water reminds us of the battle between two sisters, the equal strength of both fire and water. 

Growing up in Hawaii, you learn to respect the sea (kai) and the land (aina) from a very young age. There are many who say Pele is taking her land back because we have not respected it. She now is commanding it on an international stage.

Maybe you don’t believe in mysticism, the concept of a goddess upset with the mortals for taking her sacred rocks or disrespecting holy lands. Take a closer look at the photos and videos seen around the world. The lady has shown herself from the top of Kilauea Crater down into the steam plumes down at the ocean.

There is a lady in the lava. She isn’t done. There isn’t anything any of us can do except watch in awe and offer a blessing in the hopes that we might appease her.

This is a natural disaster unlike most. Most of the destruction isn’t from 100-miles-an-hour winds or flash floods. It is from a slow, at times methodical flow taking some homes and bypassing others. She has been doing this since 1983. The lady in the lava is not likely to stop soon.

My heart is with those on the Island of Hawaii, where I spent my childhood summers staring up at the mountaintop in wonder. I always knew she would show herself. I just never thought it would be in people’s backyards.

Kimberlee Leonard

Posted on May 31, 2018 20:38

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HONOLULU | In rural Hawaii neighborhoods where lava from Kilauea volcano has burned down or threatened to consume the homes,...

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