The Origin of the Ocean- Hawaii

The fiery goddess of Hawaii, Pele, is back in this month’s legend. If you have ever wondered how the ocean was created, wonder no more. This story from the book, Tales Told in Hawaii, will truly enlighten you. Enjoy….

The Origin of the Ocean

Pele is the goddess of volcanoes. She can take the form of a beautiful young woman or a homely old one. The only safe thing to do when in Hawaii is to be kind to all homely old women and beware of all beautiful girls. Many a chief has fallen in love with an Hawaiian maid only to discover that she is Pele. For when the fire goddess is angry she stamps her foot and the earth quakes. She calls thunder, lightning, and rivers of lava and pursues the man who has angered her. The eight islands of Hawaii have all been scorched by her bursts of temper.

This fiery goddess was born in a land that lies at the edge of the sea. She married and was very happy until her husband fled with a woman from the heavens. Now at the time the earth was covered with dry land. There was no sea. There was no fresh water.

The Origin of the Ocean (Hawaii)

“The Origin of the Ocean,” illustration courtesy of Tara Bonvillain, copyright 2019.

Pele tried to overtake her runaway husband and when she could not, her father gave her a fleet of canoes with red sails, and her mother gave her the sea. She leaned over the prow of her canoe and poured the sea from her forehead. As the canoes floated forward on the flood of waters, her brothers chanted,

“O the sea, the great sea! Fort bursts the sea: Behold, it bursts on Kanaloa!”

As they sailed onward the ocean rose and covered the vast land. At last they saw a rainbow arching over three drowning mountains. Pele raised her head and stood with her back as straight as a precipice and her face as fair as the moon. “That’s Hawaii! Hawaii shall be my home!” she cried.

The waters retreated and out of the dark blue sea slowly emerged the eight islands of Hawaii.

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