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The Volcano and the Goddess

by on January 13, 2014

Kilauea is the most active volcano in the world. The Hawaiian mountain has been steadily flowing since 1983! That makes it one of the most long-lived eruptions known on Earth. Some things you should know:

1. It is ruled by a powerful Hawaiian goddess.
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Her name is Pele. She is the goddess of fire, lightning, wind and volcanoes. Her home is at the summit of Kilauea, in a fire pit called the Halemaʻumaʻu crater. (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

2. That stringy stuff on the ground is Pele’s hair.
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The Hawaiian people have long called volcanic glass, which appears in strands after an eruption, Pele’s hair. (Image: USGS)

3. And those little rocks are Pele’s tears.
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As a volcano erupts, bits of lava goes spewing everywhere. Tiny droplets cool down as they travel through the air and it is also being formed by moving through the air. Hence, these tiny rocks in the shapes of teardrops. (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

4. Pele had a hand in the first hula dance.
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Visitors can watch as scalding hot lava from Kilauea pours into the Pacific Ocean. To Hawaiians, this is also known as Pele’s wrath. According to mythology, Pele ordered her sister Hi‘iaka to bring a certain handsome chief she fancied to her. The journey took longer than expected and Pele began imagining the her sister and the chief were having an affair. In her jealous rage, lava poured down the mountain. Unfortunately, Hi‘iaka’s friend Hopoe was standing on this cliff, dancing. The lava turned her to stone, trapped forevermore in a gesture of dance. Thus the hula was born. (Image: Bob Webster, Creative Commons)

5. She turns people into plants.
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In another story of desire, Pele approached a young man name Ohi’a. But he was in love with a woman named Lehua, and turned down her advances. She, of course, became angry and turned him into a tree—the Ohi’a tree. Other gods had pity on the devastated Lehua, and turned her into the flower on the Ohi’a tree. Hence the Ohi’a Lua evergreen tree. Pick one of the flowers and watch as rain begins to pour from the sky, representing tears of the separated lovers. (Photo: K. Lambert)

6. Take a lava rock and you will be sorry.
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These rocks are cursed. The Volcanoes National Park receives packages every day of returned lava rocks. (Image: Discover Hawaii)

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