Madame Pele, we learned when visiting Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, is neither French nor does she run a bordello, therefore the “madame” title is really just flattery. Yet, she is a goddess and a rather powerful one at that, so I’m OK with some over compensation in the respect department.
Her full name is Pele-kumu-honua, goddess of fire. Legend says she lives in the Halemaʻumaʻu crater of Kīlauea, one of two volcanoes now found in Volcanoes National Park. Although she lives on the Big Island of Hawaii, she is responsible for creating all of the Hawaiian Islands.
Volcanoes National Park
Pele is a hot chick in the literal sense of the word. As a result, people come from around the world to witness and study her power. The Hawaiian people have worshipped at Kīlauea for centuries.It was a dangerous and difficult journey.
Travelers from other cultures have also made great efforts to visit Pele’s home, so much so that 100 years ago, the National Park Service decided to help them out. Of the more than 400 units in the National Park Service, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is the only one founded to provide access to a natural resource. Most other units in the park service exist to protect natural resources or preserve a cultural or historic resources.
When visiting Volcanoes National Park, most people get caught up in the smoke and fire that is Kīlauea. The molten lake of fire glows and emits energy 24-hours a day. The best place to really feel Pele’s power is at night on the Observation Deck of the Jaggar Museum. It’s the closest you’re going to get to that ring of fire and it makes a great nighttime photo.
World’s Largest Volcano
Rising majestically above Kīlauea is Mauna Loa, the world’s largest volcano. Her summit is 13,000 feet and the only way to explore it is with a rather strenuous hike that we chose to to take. Except for the scientists at the nearby volcano observatory, not a lot of people pay a lot of attention to Mauna Loa these days. She hasn’t done much since getting all riled up in 1984 rearranging the coastline of Hawaii Island.
But while you’re at the Jaggar Museum
watching Kīlauea’s show, step inside to learn a bit more about volcanoes. You’ll find a working seismograph and if you watch it for a while, you’ll notice real time reports on the movement of the earth under your feet. And you’ll realize that Mauna Loa is rumbling around, way down low in places we can’t see. Mauna Loa is far from finished with her work.
Or maybe it’s Madame Pele with a tummy ache. Either way, there’s an energy at Volcanoes National Park that cannot be explained through simple geology. It’s a spiritual place where the gods or one God has done some amazing stuff – and continues to this day.