Reverence to Pele

A "sign" presented

We went up to Mauna Kea the day after Christmas to get a chance to be a little chilly, don a jacket and get a “feel” for the season. What we found there, was beauty, and the vast openness of land. We also discovered an offering alter to Pele at the base of the mighty Mauna Kea. A place to give reverence and respect to the people, the heritage and to the grande dame of the volcano herself.

(Updated 2018 as Pele’s name is being invoked due to the current lava eruption on the east side:

From the New York Times (where I am glad people are getting more information about Hawaii Island and her culture than ever before!)

Pele, known as the goddess of volcanoes and fire, is an important figure in Hawaiian culture.

She represents all the phenomena related to volcanos — the magma, steam, ash, acid rain.

Pele is an akua, or goddess, but not in the way people outside Hawaii might think of gods and goddesses. “A lot of people translate the word akua as god. But we feel that word has kind of a western connotation to it, so we use the word ‘element,'” said Kuulei Kanahele, researcher at the Edith Kanakaole Foundation, which focuses on Native Hawaiian cultural preservation and education. “They’re not like Greek gods or the biblical, western gods where they’re punishing you.’

“In Hawaiian thinking and Hawaiian culture, Pele is the foundation, the creation of land,” said Piilani Kaawaloa, who teaches traditional Hawaiian literature, chant and hula at the Hawaii Island campus of Kamehameha Schools.

“People know she exists,” Kaawaloa said. “And because we have these genuine stories and legends and chants that talk about who she is.”


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Meet the Author

Julie Ziemelis

Julie Ziemelis is an entrepreneur, business owner, author, blogger and vlogger in Kailua Kona. She created and moderates the “365 Things to Do in Kona” page and the Kona Newbies group on Facebook. She blogs at and and vlogs with her husband, Eric, at “365Hawaii” on YouTube. Julie also authored the books, “How to Move to Kona” and the “Insiders Guide to Buying Real Estate on the Big Island of Hawaii”. You will most likely find Julie in Kona hiking, running, biking, taking photos and sharing Aloha.

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