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Photo of a Hawaiian woman with a lei on her neck. Hawaii: The Legend of Pele

Aloha! My name is Leilani (in the Hawaiian language, it means "heavenly flower"). My friends call me Jasmine. I live in California, but last week I flew to Hawaii to visit my grandmother. I love to listen to Grandma's stories about the legends of Hawaii. My favorite is the legend of Madam Pele, Hawaii's Goddess of Fire. The legend says that Pele's father sent her away from Tahiti (another island in the Pacific) because she had a hot temper. It seems she was always fighting with her older sister (Na-mako-o-Kaha'i), who was the Goddess of the Sea. Pele left Tahiti in a canoe and went to Hawaii where she made many fiery volcanoes.

However, every time she made a volcano, her sister (who had followed her) flooded the fire and put it out. Finally, they had a very big fight and Pele was torn apart by her sister. Then, Pele's spirit was free and she became a goddess. It is said that Pele's spirit lives in the Kilauea volcano (one of the most active volcanoes on earth). Pele is still known for her violent temper. Some people say that if any visitors take her volcanic rock (lava), she puts a curse on them.

When I got to Grandma's house, Grandma looked just as I remembered her. On the table were pineapples, bananas, and coconuts. As we snacked, I told her my goal was to take some pictures of the Kilauea volcano for a school report. She looked at me with a worried expression because she knew there would be some danger. Grandma reminded me that Pele's spirit could be quite cruel and destructive. I assured Grandma that I would be very careful and that I respected the power of the Fire Goddess.

The next morning, I woke up early. I put my camera and lunch into my backpack, and left to meet the Goddess of Fire.

When I arrived at the base of the volcano I started my climb. After an hour, I looked down. Far below me, the earth looked like a lush green carpet. I could see the blue ocean surrounding the peaceful island. Suddenly I felt the earth tremble. Some rocks started to slide down the path. The calm puffy smoke from the volcano turned into black clouds. The sky looked dark and scary. I thought that this might be a warning, a signal from Pele, telling me to stop.

I stood there thinking about what I should do. Should I go on further or should I stop? I then did a very strange thing. I began talking to Pele. I told her that I was not there to disturb her, but rather to become her friend. I told her that I did not have magical powers like she did. I said that I had heard so many wonderful stories about her and I wanted to write a story. I promised not to take any of the lava rocks from the volcano. In other words, I asked for permission to continue up the mountain. Finally, the earth stopped shaking.

I got my camera and began taking pictures of the awesome site. Many different colored flames caught the camera's lens as if Pele was doing a dance for me. In my eyes, she was truly the Goddess of Fire.

Map and flag of Hawaii. Honolulu is the capital.

Map and flag of Hawaii. Honolulu is the capital.

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