The Halemaʻumaʻu crater in the Kilauea caldera erupted today on the winter solstice. On the shortest day of the year, when darkness prevails in the realm of Pō, fire burst forth and illuminated the heavens and much of Hawaiʻi, Moku Ō Keawe.
To commemorate this magical event, here is a passage from Return to Pō about the first time I came to the crater, home of Pele:
Chapter 3: Who I am is Where I am
Artwork by Ilana Nimz
Pele came from Kahiki, a place commonly thought of today as Tahiti. She left her home under the direction of her mother, Haumea, to find her father, Kānehoalani, here in Hawai‘i. In her search, she was confronted by her older sister Nāmakaoakahaʻi who, back in the world of Kahiki, had sought to destroy Pele for her unrelenting power and ambition. Pele’s journey on the mythic canoe Honuaiākea was a journey of refuge to escape the threats of her older sister. The passage of her journey, which was taken with company of other relations of Pele, brought the voyage first to the northwest islands of Hawaiʻi. Pele made her way down the islands, using the divine rod Paoa to determine where she would land and call her new home. Pele surveyed each island, each location resulting in dissatisfaction. Upon her examination of the crater of Haleakala volcano on Maui, Pele’s older sister, Nāmakaoakahaʻi, confronted her after trailing her throughout the whole journey. The two sisters went into battle, Nāmakaoakahaʻi determined to destroy Pele. Alas, Pele was bested by her sister and violently dismembered.Return to Pō
In this act, the ancient person that was Pele came to an end, but her being in that moment became deified as a goddess, now functioning as the creator of land. She left Maui and made her way to Hawai‘i Island, eventually settling at Halemaʻumaʻu crater.
There are only theories about the swelling and increased pressure in the magma chamber, theories which circulate in discussions amongst scientists but never reach any conclusion.
As the sulfur smell flooded my nostrils, I smiled with a wild yet comforting thought that it was, of course, Pele who was causing all of the eruptions.