Hawai’i and Pele – What’s Happening and Why You Should be Paying Attention

This image is the property of USGS

Volcano goddess Pele, or “She Who Shapes The-Sacred-Land,” art by Herb Kawainui KaneÂ

If you haven’t heard, lava – otherwise known as the goddess Pele – that has been flowing out of Pu’u O’o on the Big Island of Hawaii, has suddenly taking a sharp turn in it’s course and is heading Northeast with considerable speed and volume. This recent event has caused alarm within the Pahoa community and Puna district, where many residents have expressed their concern about the lava flowing over the highway that connects many peoples home’s to the rest of the island. Some have even more to worry about. Pele could potentially flow right into their homes, destroying them for good.

This concern amongst residents has sparked a very fascinating difference of perspective and cultural beliefs. I encourage everyone to tune in on what’s happening to gain insight into the unfolding of this story.

I myself am not entirely comfortable telling the story, nor representing the beliefs of the Hawaiian people. I recognize they are not my own, but I also recognize the deep lessons we (those not born into or raised in the the Hawaiian culture) can learn from this perspective. Thus, I feel compelled to share.

There is is talk by some who wish to divert the flow of lava so that it does not come in harms way of any people and their homes. The Hawaiian community has voiced outwardly that this should not happen in any way. The reason why is the lesson worth learning and sharing.

(see footage from a Pahoa community meeting) http://www.bigislandvideonews.com/2014/09/05/video-hawaiians-rebuke-lava-diversion-talk/

To divert the lava is to go up directly against Pele. To go up directly against Pele is to place the value of human life above and beyond everything else. To place the value of human life above everything else (nature), is to separate the human species from the natural world. It is this grave mistake which has caused so much of the violence and destruction of people and environments around the world.

As Pele has done in the past, over and over again, her presence in Puna could very well last a long time – years, decades. Back in November 2013, Pu’u O’o had been flowing south for nearly 30 years. There is nothing to say she won’t do the same in Puna.

The fact that here in Hawaii there is an overwhelming opinion saying, “you’ll notice they’re aren’t a lot of Hawaiians at this meeting, that’s because they are all at home preparing for a visit from Pele ” is the expression of a culture that stands strong amongst a world where indigenous cultures are going extinct – where ethno genocide continues to shower down on the face of this planet like acid rain biting into the skin of all who watch it happen.

Here in Hawaii, although it certainly carries its own traumatic history of intentional cultural destruction, there is an ancient way – practices and relationships to this land that run deep, hundreds if not thousands of years of building knowledge and understanding of this dynamic and ever-changing land that anyone outside of that culture can only begin to understand. We all should pay attention. Pele has flowed through peoples homes before. she will do it again. This is her home, we are her guests.

Here are some resources