In Search Of History – Hawaii’s Vengeful Goddess (History Channel Documentary)


the History Channel For centuries
Hawaiians have believed that the fiery eruptions of a sacred volcano are the
vengeful acts of their fearsome goddess Pele join us and explore the stormy
legacy of a people and their angry an Unleashed volcano is a force of
nature so mysterious so unpredictable that scientists can offer few clues to
why or when the next onslaught but in the seemingly senseless violence
of an Unleashed volcano Hawaiians have found profound meaning for they believe
the volcano is their supreme goddess Pele who sends her destructive lava to
annihilate all those who disobey Him Perla is a goddess of fire if you
mistreat her she erupts and is angry if you respect her then she cares for you
and will help you in any situation she is that great woman that no one can
conquer in 1990 Pele unleashed her most
devastating eruption in history from the Kilauea volcano with an awesome fury
which destroyed the town of Kalapana on the southeast shore of Hawaii Island over 100 homes churches schools and
parks were erased from the land by a scorching river of lava proof to the
faithful of the wrath of Pele as the smoke cleared it revealed that the lava
had miraculously spared one house from the devastation a house that belonged to
a devout worshipper of Pele the fire goddess fella deserves our
respect because you can go to any island in the Hawaiian chain and those are the
lands of Pele she is wahini ie Lihua she is a woman
that consumes the Lihua groves of Puna so when we go there we are even more
reminded of her power and how she can both create and take away for many in
Hawaii this strange incident was proof of the
curse of Pele and her power to protect and destroy how did the belief in her ancient curse
begin and why does it continue to strike fear into the hearts of Hawaiians today
like the Hawaiian people its origin is lost in an ocean of time as fast as the
boundless Pacific scientists believe that the first
settlers of the Hawaiian Islands arrived around the year 350 AD just how they
discovered the islands remains a mystery for incredibly the eighth island chain
existed in total isolation over 2,000 miles from the nearest continent and
2,500 miles from the closest inhabited island the journey of the first settlers would
have required extraordinary powers of navigation a Pacific Odyssey that would
have been one of the great epics of exploration scientists believe these early
navigators may have actually constructed huge sailing vessels in order to travel
the vast distances needed to reach the Hawaiian Islands thousands of years
before Columbus these intrepid Mariners were Criss crossing the South Pacific in
sailing canoes that could attain a length of over 100 feet as long as
Columbus’s own ships these Hawaiian vessels could sustain up to 80 people
with food and supplies for voyages of over two thousand miles when the earliest settlers finally
reached the Hawaiian Islands they set foot in a pristine world perhaps as
close to paradise as any that has ever been discovered the Hawaiians soon populated their
domain with an extraordinary array of gods and goddesses deities inhabiting
every facet of nature the first Hawaiians worshiped an
enormous galaxy of over 40,000 deities perhaps more than any other people on
earth and believed themselves to be direct descendants of the major gods
there is a mystical side to Hawaii a very spiritual side to Hawaii and you
can’t miss it it is there you can feel it the gods are there and for those of
us who worship traditional gods we love them because they’re our ancestors and
we know that they’re on our side and they will take care of us if we are good
to them we’re pantheistic in the sense that we really believe that everything
in nature is because of a God and God exists in it according to Hawaiian
legend the goddess Pele was one of the first deities to inhabit the islands
arriving shortly after the first settlers she was a jealous and passionate goddess
who seemed to reflect the sensuality of the early Hawaiians a culture which
practiced polygamy and in which men and women lived a very promiscuous life and yet early Hawaiian life was a
male-dominated society guided by a strict moral code with severe taboos to
help the Hawaiian people avoid the wrath of Pele and their thousands of vengeful
gods many taboos harshly restricted the daily
lives of women it was taboo for women to hunt to eat meals with men even
forbidden for women to cook their own food for fear they would contaminate it yet strangely in this society where
women were often dominated by men the most powerful deity was the goddess Pele when did Pele first appear in the
pantheon of Hawaiian gods there may have been a cataclysmic eruption shortly
after the first Hawaiian set foot on the islands scientists believe that at the very time
the first settlers arrived in Hawaii Kilauea was at its most active and thus
the goddess established her spiritual hold over the belief of the Hawaiian
people as the Hawaiian population grew so too
did Pele spell over those and worshiped her to the faithful the ultimate act of
devotion was to ascend the slopes of the volcano to pay homage to the goddess by the 14th and 15th centuries the
Hawaiian population on all the islands had expanded into the hundreds of
thousands ruling over this flourishing society were high chiefs who trace their
family lineage back to the ancient gods of the Hawaiian people and of all the deities the mightiest and
the most revered was Panay why then have scholars not found a
single statue of Pele from ancient times how did the Hawaiian people worship her we worshipped the gods in the form that
they already are in in the rock in the fish in the wind in the clouds the
mountain and Pele is real in the lava we don’t need to make a picture of her in
the lava she’s there spectacular temples were built to honor such other Hawaiian
deities as the God of War but few were ever built to honor Pele to Pele’s
worshippers the ultimate proof of faith was a perilous journey up the 4,000 foot
slope of the volcano to its summit a pilgrimage across this most sacred of
land on the islands the risks of climbing a live volcano are
formidable yet the ancient hawaiians ignored the ever-present danger of
poisonous gases and scorching lava to make their ascent some believe the ancient worshipers may
have built altars to their goddess on the slopes of the volcano but today
their very existence remains a mystery for as if to conceal her secrets Kilauea
has buried all such ancient monuments under what some call Pele’s blanket a
shroud of lava which has destroyed almost all remnants of the Hawaiian
culture on their journey up the sacred mountain
the faithful found miraculous proof of the magical powers of Pele for a rare
sacred plant the oh hello berry grows only on the slopes of the volcano to
this day its ability to survive the poisonous volcanic environment remains a
scientific mystery to the Hawaiians the sacred oh.hello plant was a sign of
peles miraculous capacity to create life from destruction when at last the worshipers reached the
4,000 foot summit Pele’s smoldering inner sanctum they would offer the
oh.hello berries as proof of their devotion to her Pele’s worshipers considered the fiery
crater where the pilgrimage ended to be a magical forbidden place the source of
all fertility the source of all creation the most intimate and secret aspect of
the goddess the volcano itself is the genital of Pilli it is her private part
it is the part that women very rarely ever show to the public so for any of us
who go there to see Pele we should be respectful of them when the volcano
erupts a lava flows out from her private place it is said she is giving birth to
new land with each eruption Pele’s lava was expanding the island a
precious gift of new land for her people to show their gratitude the Hawaiians
glorified Pele in sacred songs and the graceful movements of the human body these sensual mystical dances called the
hula are the only existing record of ancient Hawaiian life when performed for
Pele at sacred sites they demonstrated the dancers reverence for the goddess who expresses everything you know that
we see we feel we hear we smelled with taste we touch and we sense so that we
see Pele and we see her are in our displayed fiery display we create images
we create stories and when you look at how that story is told and the beauty of
the language and how the language is linked the natural phenomena of things
in nature oh it’s beautiful why when so much of Hawaiian culture has
vanished have these sacred Pele dances survived for over 1500 years Oh you know no makeup on you while Pele received homage through
sacred hula dances another Hawaiian deity the God of War demanded more
violent tributes through human sacrifices but because Pele was female
and thus a giver of life it was believed that no life should be sacrificed to
honor her and yet while human sacrifice to Pele was forbidden it was considered
fitting for the hallowed dead to be hurled into her fire and deaths the
remains of The Departed were wrapped in a shroud and carried up the slopes of
the mountain to the mouth of the smoldering volcano there one last hula
dance was performed to honor Pele a performance sometimes lasting days
finally the shrouded body was hurled into the lava its soul rejoining the
immortal spirit of Pele for eternity a final blazing affirmation of life not only did the Hawaiians believed that
Pele controlled them in both life and death
they also believe their God has shaped the destiny of her people once again of
Pele break forth display thy power my God to the world
let thy voice sound out like a drum Reata the law of thy burning back
ancient Hawaiian chant by the late 1700s as if under the benign
protection of the goddess Pele herself the Hawaiian Islands had become a
thriving Society of nearly 800,000 people two-thirds of its population in
modern times had the Hawaiian people’s belief in
Pele’s curse guided them to become one of the world’s most prosperous
civilizations isolated from the outside world free of
European interference the Hawaiian royal families battled for supremacy over
their lush island domain after seven years of warfare on the Big Island of
Hawaii by 1790 all power resided in the hands of two mighty Chiefs Keawe and his
cousin kamehameha both rulers claimed the support of the goddess Pele and the
Hawaiian people looked to her sacred volcano for annulment which ruler would
receive Palace blessing at first it seemed as if Pele had smiled upon kou WA
for while Kamehameha waged war on the neighboring island of Maui Keawe
attacked at home laying waste to many of the villages loyal to kamehameha certain that so resounding a victory was
proof of peles approval ko you ordered his triumphant warriors to return home
passing beneath the shadow of peles volcano as his soldiers neared the
volcano a terrible earthquake shook the land fearful ko were prayed to Pele and
the ground went silent seemingly a sign of peles blessing then suddenly the goddess spoke in words
of fire chalo who were watched in horror as ashes rocks and lava rained down upon
his doomed soldiers in seconds his once mighty warriors were
reduced to smoldering statues monuments to the heat of peles wrath to this day according to legend the
fiery imprints of the doomed warriors bodies have all been preserved in the
volcanic rock a lasting warning to all who might underestimate the power of
Pele to historians this incident is the first evidence that the legend of the
curse of Pele might have influenced actual historical figures and events
once this event occurred the kuru chief of this district here realized that if
his own gods the gods of his land didn’t support him if Pele wasn’t with him he
had no sense in fighting so he gave up to command me huh to a people who
believed that the earth was a living being the eruption was an omen of divine
approval from Pele and as its beneficiary kamehameha had the wisdom to
turn the extraordinary event to his benefit you should know that command
male was not of the very highest Chiefs he was a slightly lesser rank although
he was a very great warrior he was a very great politician and he was
developed worshipping the gods and Pele was one of the gods that you worship strengthened by the stories of peles
royal blessing over the next 10 years kamehameha is set forth on a holy war to
conquer all eight Hawaiian Islands in 1801 however while Kamehameha
dominated other chiefs in battle his ascendancy seemed to be threatened by
the goddess Pele herself for in that year the sacred volcano sent a deadly
lava flow thundering down her Mountain consuming villages along the north side
of the Big Island of Hawaii the local residents pleaded with their chief
Kamehameha to somehow stop her destructive rampage it is believed that
when Pele is angry and she is erupting and as her flow comes down towards the
sea the only one who can stop the lava flow is a very high chief someone who is
beloved by Pele kamehameha traveled to the deadly lava
flow to offer Pele the most sacred gift a man could offer a goddess a lock of
his hair wrapped in a sacred leaf the next day as if by divine will the
flow of lava stopped with the now benign volcano apparent proof of peles supreme
blessing kamehameha was crowned the first monarch of all the Hawaiian
Islands in 1810 ruling over a kingdom of nearly 1 million subjects and yet the
seeming paradise would soon be placed in jeopardy by an unexpected threat from
beyond the horizon in the 1700s after centuries of
unquestioned dominance over the island kingdom the goddess Pele will be
threatened as never before for On January 19th 1778 strange
visitors would arrive from beyond the horizon in great ships which to the
Islanders must have seemed like vessels of the gods history would record that the name of
the ship’s English captain was James Cook the man who would end Hawaii’s
thousands of years of magnificent isolation with their whole universe
seemingly endangered by these strange invaders the Islanders were at first
uncertain how to respond would Pele’s curse once again emerge and destroy the
English just as the goddess had killed her enemies in times past if Pele had erupted perhaps the
Hawaiians would have battled the English to the death instead the volcano
remained silent scientists would later theorize that in this period the volcano
simply entered an inactive phase but to believers in Pele’s curse her mysterious
silence was viewed as a sign of approval believing they had received Pele’s
blessing the Hawaiian people were drawn to the material temptations the English
brought with them iron tools muskets and massive weapons how would such
temptations change their sacred ways they start to rethink some of their
ideas about the world and the universe and they do this by inquiring of the
Europeans who are your gods what are your traditions what are your
beliefs Hawaii offered temptations for the English as well a sensual world
without sexual inhibitions ironically the unrestrained sexual relations
between the English and the Hawaiians would soon be responsible for more
deaths than any war in the islands history by 1820 in just over 40 years half of
the Hawaiian population would perish from venereal disease and other Western
illnesses as they watched their people die by the thousands the Hawaiians
continued to look to Pele for a sign but the volcano remained silent the longer
their God has failed to intervene the more the Hawaiians questioned the
existence of her curse all that was sacred in Hawaiian culture
was dying as swiftly and as tragically as the native population
soon in 1820 another even more serious threat to her power would reach the
shores of the Hawaiian Islands Christian missionaries from the United States
seeking to convert the Hawaiians to a belief in their one God
when they came to Hawaii they denigrated everything Hawaiian every Hawaiian
custom whether it was hula or the study of genealogy certainly the Hawaiian gods
any Hawaiian custom that we had regarding our dress our food our houses
our interval interpersonal relationships everything was considered bad to win
over the Hawaiians the missionaries first had to prove their Christian God
was more powerful than Pele herself the fatal blow to the Hawaiian goddess came
not from the outsiders but from a Hawaiian princess who according to
tradition was a descendant of Pele herself the Christians try to outlaw the old
gods and to a certain extent Hawaiians did convert to Christianity in
particular because the message was you are dying from these foreign diseases
because you do not worship Jehovah if you pray to Jehovah you will live in 1824 when kapi’olani decided to
convert to Christianity she defiantly chose to do it in Pele’s inner sanctum
at the edge of her fiery crater native hawaiians begged the princess not to
ascend the volcano fearing Pele would wreak her revenge on
the Hawaiian people for so blasphemous an act but the princess ignored their
warnings there is a famous story of her going to
the volcano and picking oh.hello berries and eating them an offering nun to Pele
and despising Pele and saying you were nothing now there’s a new God in the
land his name is Jehovah he is the great God jehovah is my god he kindled these fires
i fear not Pele if I perish in her anger then you may fear Pele but if I trust in
Jehovah then you must fear and serve Him alone
princess Kapiolani 1824 when pillar didn’t erupt and killed her immediately
people said oh it’s a sign that Java has more power than pillow when Pele failed
to punish the princess for her blasphemy the goddess was gravely weakened in the
eyes of her people following their princesses bold example thousands more
would convert to Christianity church leaders would soon take drastic steps to
stifle Hawaiian culture the ancient Hawaiian language was forbidden and the
hula dances were banned from public display when the first missionaries arrived from
New England into Hawaii they brought with him their whole outlook on life and
that was a very cold austere view of the world they viewed Kula as being too
sexual too lascivious they didn’t like it because
it honored other gods and goddesses as Hawaiian culture was all but forgotten
some would ask whether an enraged Pele had reaped her revenge after all by the
late 1800s after the Hawaiian people had turned
their back on their goddess only 40,000 Native Hawaiians survived nearly 95
percent of their population had died in under 75 years and the princess who were dared to risk
Pele’s curse by the end of the 19th century her monarchy was overthrown and
Hawaii was annexed to the United States and yet even now what some would call
the curse of Pele had not yet been laid to rest
for with modern times there would be a mysterious rebirth of belief in Pele’s
deadly power the woman Pele burst forth she flashed
to the heavens on and on it was awe-inspiring or inspiring by the 19th century reports of the
splendor of Hawaii were spreading throughout the world
visitors journeyed to the islands to view sights long forbidden to foreign
eyes the notorious Pele’s curse had become
such a fabled Hawaiian myth that visitors would travel for two arduous
days just to get a glimpse of the goddess’s volcanic domain one such visitor was the American author
Mark Twain who in 1866 made a pilgrimage up Kilauea Volcano to the holiest site
of the goddess we came at last to torn a rugged deserts
of scorched and blistered lava to the summit of the mountain and these tokens
warned us that we were nearing the palace of the dread goddess Pele the
creator of Kilauea Mark Twain 1866 while some Outsiders revered Pele most
viewed her with disdain as her sacred volcano remained silent Hawaii fell
under the influence of the culture from the American mainland and yet stories
began to surface that seemed to hint that the power of peles ancient curse
endured as tourists visited Pele’s sacred
volcano they inadvertently violated an age-old taboo by taking home lava rocks
as souvenirs and some suffered bizarre misfortunes as a result these tourists
mailed the rocks back to Hawaii begging the park rangers to return them
to the slopes of peles volcano by the late 20th century the intrusions
into Pele’s domain were far more serious than the theft of rocks from her soaps
plans were announced to install geothermal wells in the sacred volcano
Kilauea itself the wells would have provided badly needed energy for the
population of modern Hawaii but to believers in Pele’s curse they were an
act of desecration defiling the sacred crater to its core too many Hawaiians
Pele was being subjected to nothing less than an act of rape that whole mountain is her domain that’s
why when they went to put the geothermal wells in it’s very intrusive Hawaiians
are very upset that geothermal wells which are really a kind of a Western
phallic symbol should be dug into the ground to the secret place to the
private place of Pele despite the strong objections of Native Hawaiians the
geothermal wells were driven into the volcano’s sacred crater believers in
Pele feared that after such a provocation
Pele’s curse would wreak a terrible revenge they did not have long to wait
only two weeks later on July 2nd 1983 after remaining silent for centuries
Pele’s volcano erupted with onion dreamt of ferocity for some it was no mere coincidence that
the volcano unleashed its power at this decisive moment by 1997 14 years later the volcano was
still erupting having destroyed over 200 homes and causing over 100 million
dollars worth of damage to those who devoutly believed in her however this
act of Awesome destruction was also an act of creation she is the goddess that creates the
lands and Hawaiians claim as their own she is the lasting link that reminds us
that I know Hawaii things Hawaiian are alive and well just as it has created
new land Kilauea is fiery eruption has nourished a rebirth in the ancient
beliefs of the Hawaiian people since the 1983 eruption began there has
been a startling resurgence in support for a return to the hallowed ancient
ways numerous hula schools have formed many of them devoted to recounting the
age-old tales of peles exploits as a testament to their devotion hula
teachers leave their students in a sacred dance to honor Pele at the edge
of the volcano itself we have to pass this up because it’s part of our pass
and it’s a part of our present it will be part of our future if we continue on
we come very attached an imbalance with nature
we understand nature and the awesomeness of Baileys domain using Pele as Kilauea’s lava continues its
relentless flow to the ocean creating new land and sparking fervent new belief
the ancient legend has been infused with abundant new life she dances to see
she’s alive for us Billy’s always present so the stories and traditions
that have been passed on to us remain life because you can’t remove for her
she’s always present to geologists the continuing eruption of
peles volcano offers a chance to probe the mysteries of volcanic behavior using
cutting-edge technology but will scientists ever fully penetrate the
riddles of peles volcano for some the mysteries here are too deep too sacred
to ever surrender all their secrets the power of kilauea continues to baffle
scientists and inspire all among Pele’s worshipers an urgent warning to all perhaps that
nature not mankind is the creator and destroyer of all life and must be
respected for her power it’s a warning that we ignore only at our peril a
warning that haunts us on our journey in search of history

Comments 15

  • This a late 90's/early 2000's History Channel documentary, take everything with a grain of salt & watch at your own risk

    I make no claims as to the subject, content or accuracy of the episodes on my Channel or Playlists

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  • Boys for Pele. Now I get Tori Amos…

  • … but if the islands were unknown, how (no known location), and why (open ocean isn't interesting), did the original inhabitants "navagate" to them? Why did they build these huge ocean going rafts to go nowhere? Many more of these facts are inaccurate. If ya want to go down that rabbit hole, researcg the Dutch about 30 years before Cook. These were the guys that charted the Islands on the maratime maps. The natives were extremely friendly and during a celebration in which they attended, they became scared and open fire with muskets killing many of them and then left in one big hurry. Later, after Cook came across the Dutch Captain's log he returned looking to resupply food and water. The natives did NOT welcome Cook AT ALL… Cook & crew didn't stay the day. The missionary epic was however accurate. The VD, smallpox and assorted other nasties were from South American slavery ships that showed up after that. There was one journaled epic recorded of a bushwhaced Hawaiian native that upon reaching port, Argentina I believe, and released from the chains in the hold jumped overboard and tried to swim home… Really… A log entry… He didn't make it.

  • I remember arguing with one of my professors in a pseudohistory class I was forced to take called "roots of contemporary issues" about what it took to be able to navigate across oceans. He said you needed the instruments of the age of exploration like the sextant compass etc… I asked him how the Polynesians did it…. then he said they used the sun moon and stars and I could see in his eyes that he realized he was wrong…. I took satisfaction because the class was pure torture.

  • Hi, Peter.
    i know this is a documentary, but like so many, there is a lot of disinformation in it.
    Thanks for the upload, dude.
    Blessings and hugs,
    Linda Lee

  • May there be blessings from Pele onto you.

  • I also really enjoyed this. I am a Pagan. So this was nice to see.

  • So glad you and Edward's History Hub shared this with us. Although dated, this program is valuable in context of its times and the body of work about Pele and Hawaiian history.
    Also, regarding the paintings/portraits of Pele, at least some of those were done by the artist who painted the one that was rescued from the Hawaiian Volcanoes Park museum in the midst of Kilauea's latest activity.
    Mahalo 💚

  • Ok i can unserstand the idea that putting a generator in Kilauea could be considered rape, but saying its because the geothermal well would be raped because theyd be plunging the "western phallic symbol" into kilauea but every region has phalkic imagery not just western culture and even hawaiians have this "western phallic imagery" even in th 90s nobody was calling phallic objects "western phallic symbols" anymore and that one pele follower who said stuff like that kept discrediting herself with her assertations, like they had all the religious evidence to prove their point they didnt need to bring up something like that offhandedly

  • This is retarded.

  • It's always heart-breaking to see a people living in peace permanently destroyed by the arrival of Europeans. Very sad indeed.

  • Isn’t more likely that the original people that inhabited Hawaii more likely just stumbled across the islands while exploring as opposed to impressively knowing about the island and actually navigating to the islands intentionally like this documentary seems to think. I think they found it by accident while exploring or trying to get to somewhere else. Of course we will never know how it happened.

  • the volcano was going to stop anyway gods or not no such thing as jhova or pelly

  • clearly deluded people

  • One of the worst documentaries I’ve seen in ages. Holy shit.

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