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Madame Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of fire (1) [Madame Pele, Goddess]

Madame Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of fire  (1)

Anyone born and growing up on the Big Island of Hawaii has either heard of or experienced the existence of Madame Pele, the fire Goddess of the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

She is seen by residence in her chosen shape or form three or four days before an eruption of a volcano.

The chicken skin story I am about to share happened in 1975, the year my husband, Neal, and I got married.

My maid of honor, Alice, was from Canada, and Neal's best man, John, was from San Francisco.

A week prior to our wedding, while playing tour guide and touring the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park with our out-of-town guests, we are overlooking the Kilauea crater on an unusually windy day.

On the Big Island, where the Kilauea volcano daily explodes in red hot blasts of lava, it is so easy to believe in Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of fire.


Madame Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of fire (2) [Madame Pele, Goddess]

Madame Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of fire  (2)

It was so windy that as Alice stooped to see the crater, her near-waist-length hair swooped upward, rising above her head.

We all laughed as she grabbed hold of her hair.

For some reason, Neal then predicted that the volcano was going to erupt on our wedding night.

On a Wednesday evening, three nights before our wedding, Neal and his best man, John, were bar-hopping from one hotel to the next on Ali'i Drive.

Precisely at 11:55p.m. , as they drove around a bend on the stretch between Kailua-kona and Keauhou, they saw a maiden with long, black hair, dressed in a black and red mu'umu'u, walking in front of their car.


Madame Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of fire (3) [Madame Pele, Goddess]

Madame Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of fire  (3)

No street lights existed in that remote area Ali'iDrive.

The maiden appeared to be walking in the middle of the road, away from the vehicle, with her back in view.

But her feet were nowhere in sight.
It was as if she was floating gracefully just above the road.

Neal felt the hair on the back of his neck start to rise, so he slowly, carefully drove around her and passed her.

John, unaware of the stories of Madame Pele, said, " Let's stop and pick her up ! "

Neal, as calmly as he could, said, " Don't turn around, don't even look at her, and I will explain why when we got to the next bar. "


Madame Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of fire (4 完) [Madame Pele, Goddess]

Madame Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of fire  (4)

After a drink or two, Neal explained to John that the maiden on the road was Pele.

John, who was unfamiliar with Hawaiian legends, asked," Who's Pele ? "

Neal explained that Pele is the fire Goddess, who almost always is seen by people several days before an eruption.

John asked why Neal didn't try to pick her up, and Neal told him, " Because she did not ask for a ride. "

Three nights later, on our wedding night, at precisely 11;55p.m., July 5, 1975, Maura Loa, after approximately twenty-five years of rest, erupted.

This story of Madame Pele's sighting was not mentioned to me or to anyone else until the evening of our wedding night.

(4/4 完)   

Madame Pele, PartⅡ(1) [Madame Pele, Goddess]

Madame Pele, PartⅡ(1)

The day we met Pele we were not supposed to meet anyone.

Please note the " we. "
There were three witnesses to this story of meeting the fiery goddess of Hawaii volcanoes.

I wouldn't dare tell you about this if I had been alone.

My friends were a pilot, a scientist, and a sugar plantation manager.

Our visit with Pele was in the spring of 1955.

The goddess was island building down in the lower Puna area on the flank of Kilauea Volcano.

It was the first eruption in modern history to happen in a populated area.

For over a week a large section of Puna had been cut off from the rest of the island by two rivers of molten lava as they raced from the vents into the ocean.

Residents of the area were now refugees in a school gymnasium in the sugar town of Pahoa.

THe manager of the Puna suger Company wanted to inspect what was left of his fields in the abandoned area.

He talked the pilot of a small plane into landing on a cinder road between the lava flows so he could inspect the area on foot.


Pele にまつわる、前回とはまた別のお話です。

Madame Pele, PartⅡ(2) [Madame Pele, Goddess]

Madame Pele, PartⅡ(2)

Since there were two empty seats in the airplane, a volcano scientist was invited to go along.

I was talked into going to record the trip with camera and pen as I was a newsman in those days.

The pilot landed the Cessna aircraft on the road.

The landing distance was so short he had to stand on the brakes to keep from going to the bushes.

The four of us walked around the sugar fields, a path of bananas, and a sweet patato farm plot.
There were no houses in this section.

Imagine our surprise when we came upon a lady sitting at the edge of a shugar field.
Later I checked my notes and I definitely wrote her down as a Lady.

That's the impression I had.
In my estimation, a girl would have been under twenty.
She was older, but not by much.


Madame Pele, PartⅡ(3) [Madame Pele, Goddess]

Madame Pele, PartⅡ(3)

If it were a woman, the person would have showed more maturity in dress  and hairdo, and a certain domestication of mannerisms.

You know, she would have had that look that sends children to bed without a fuss at eight p.m.

But a Lady had the charm of sophistication.

She carries herself with a authority even when sitting.
She has soft features, clearness of skin, a sculpturing of the nose that denotes breeding.

This Lady sitting by the side of the path had all of these at first glance.

She wore a red mu'umu'u with black marking that resembled bamboo.

She displayed no jewelry. A cloud of jet black hair flowed behind her shoulders and down to the middle of her back.
She was barefoot.

" Hi, " said the manager, recovering from his surprise.

" Aloha, " she answered.


Madame Pele, PartⅡ(4) [Madame Pele, Goddess]

Madame Pele, PartⅡ(4)

To this day I cannot truthfully explain how that " aloha " sounded.

Something like a lover saying it to his love in the moonlight with the sound of the sea whispering on sands would be a fair attempt.

" What are you doing here ? " asked the sugar planter in an suthoritative voice.
After all, he owned this land.

" Just resting in the shade of the sugarcane, " the lady replied, giving us a radiant smile.

" No one is supposed to be in this area, " the scientist said.

" The national Guard evacuated everyone a week ago. Why did you stay behind ? You know you're trapped i between lava flows here. "

The Lady's smile just grew wilder as if that were answer enough.

" What's your name ? " I inquired, poising a pencil over my notebook.

She said something very musical in Hawaiian that sounded to me like the name of a fern.

I wrote it down phonetically, and it appears as " u'ulei " in my notes. ( Later, I looked the word up in a Hawaiian dictionary . It's a actually, uleci, a Hawai'i shrub with small white rose-like flowers. )


Madame Pele, PartⅡ(5) [Madame Pele, Goddess]

Madame Pele, PartⅡ(5)

The pilot frowned and turned to us.

" I could make two trips in the plane and take her out, " he said.

" Oh, I won't leave here, " the lady said.
" At least not tday. I have work to do. Perhaps I'll be ready to go somewhere else next week. "

" Well, if you don't want to come away with us now, you may have to later today or tomorrow, " the scientist said.

" We'll have to report you to Civil Defence and they will sends hrlicopter in for you. Te eruption has caused an emergency in this part of the island, and there are laws to protect people. "

" I follow my on laws, " the Lady said, and for the first time she stopped smiling.

I remember looking into her eyes at that moment and what I saw was familiar.

While the college, I had spent a Christmas vacation with some friends in a home on a frozen lake in Wisconsin.

We all slept in the living room because the cast iron stove could only heat that room.

The stove was loared with wood at bedtime, but by dawn it was freezing to the touch.

However, when I lifted the lid to put in more wood, there were two gleaming cherry-red coals nestling in the gray ashes that promised instant rekindling.


Madame Pele, PartⅡ(6) [Madame Pele, Goddess]

Madame Pele, PartⅡ(6)

The Lady's  fearturs were now cold, and those same two glowing coals were deep within her gray eyes.

Perhaps my three companions had eomewhat the same feeling, because the manager said, " We'll finish our inspection of this area, and if you want to go out with us, you can wait by the plane. "

He gestured up the road toward where we landed.

We contnued walking.
But for some strange reason, we had only gone ten feet or so when the idea that this might be Pele entered our minds simultaniously.

We turned around to again look at the Lady.

She was gone !

We ran back.

The manager plunged into the cane field.
The pilot went up the road.
The scientist jogged down another path.
I stood and called her name.

We didn't find her.

A spooky feeling began to creep into all of us, like a cloud invading a rain forest at dusk.

" I think it's time to go, " the pilot said.

No one disagreed.


Madame Pele, PartⅡ(7) [Madame Pele, Goddess]

Madame Pele, PartⅡ(7)

We got into the plane and taxied to the end of the cinder road.

The pilot gunned the engine and stood on the brakes.

When he released the brakes, we lurched forward.

Halfway down the road it was obvious the plane was too heavily loaded to clear the trees ahead.

Landing on a small road was one thing.

Taking off with a heavy load was another.

WE stopped.

" Someone has to get out, " the pilot said.
" I'll come back for you later. "

The "you " was directed at me.
I was sitting next to the door. For reasons not entirely clear to me, I made no protest  and got out of the plane.

I was scared.
I did not want to socialize with anyone, especially a Lady.

And as the plane took off, diminished to a dot, then disappeared, I fervently wished I was somewhere else.
Anywhere else would do.

My thoughts were of Pele sighting I had read.

There were usually about an old woman, or a pretty young one, during an eruption.


Madame Pele, PartⅡ(8 完) [Madame Pele, Goddess]

Madame Pele, PartⅡ(8 完)

The common one is that she is hitchhiking, gets into a car, asks for a cigarette, lights it with the tip of her finger, and then, when the driver momentarily looks the other way, she disappears.

Another story is that she came to a house accompanied by a white dog and asks for something to eat or drink.

When given something, she goes on her way.
But she is refuse, she stamps her foot, and very soon a finger of molten lava branches off from the main flow and destroys the house.

An hour dragged by, and when no Lady appeared, I began to laugh at myself.

That wasn't Pele.
She was probably a resident who had decided to stay in the area to take care of her cat or dog.
I had a name and description.
I would solve this mystery  once I got out.

The pilot did return, nad anhour later I walked into Civil Defence headquarters at the refugee gym.

The pilot, the scintist, and the sugar planter were there.
The four of us grilled the residents of Puna.

The Lady's name and description didn't fit anyone they knew.

The National Guard sommander and Civil Defence workers all assured us they had done a thorough job in getting everyone outーpeople and their pets.

(8/8 完) 

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