Pele was the Hawaiian goddess of volcanoes. She was known for her power, passion, jealousy, and fickleness. Her many siblings are nature gods; one of them is the benevolent goddess Hi'iaka.
One legend demonstrates just how angry Pele could get. She once fell into a deep sleep and left her body to wander, and was lured by the sound of a hula-drum accompanied by a wonderful voice. She appeared in spirit at a festival on Kaua'i, where she fell in love with a young chief named Lohiau. Hi'iaka had been watching over her, and after nine days she grew worried and sang an incantation to bring Pele back. Upon her return, Pele longed for Lohiau and decided to send a messenger to bring him to her. Hi'iaka volunteered to go on the dangerous journey, as long as Pele would protect her sacred grove of Lehua trees and her friend, Hopoe. Pele agreed to Hi'iaka's request, but insisted that she return with Lohiau within 40 days. She also instructed Hi'iaka not to fall in love with Lohiau, or even embrace him.
Palauopalae, the Guardian of the Ferns, was sent to be Hi'iaka's companion. Along the way, a woman by the name of Wahine'oma'o joined them. Hi'iaka's journey was filled with many adventures, such as dueling with demons of the island forests, but when at last she reached Kaua'i she found that the young chief had died from longing for Pele. She was able to revive him with chanting and prayer, but she was not able to return to Pele within 40 days. Pele, fearing that Hi'iaka had betrayed her and was keeping the handsome chief for herself, got really angry and not only destroyed Hi'iaka's sacred Lehua forest, but also killed Hopoe, turning her into stone.
When Hi'iaka returned, seeing her friend dead and her forest ravaged, she took revenge on Pele and embraced Lohiau. In retaliation, Pele sent waves of lava at the couple. Hi'iaka was unharmed, but Lohiau was killed by the lava. Hi'iaka revived him again.
Pele, regretting her actions toward Hi'iaka's forest and friend, decided to let Lohiau choose who he wanted to be with. Some versions of the legend say that Lohiau chose Hi'iaka over Pele and returned with her to Kaua'i. Others say he decided to remain with the both of them. Still others say that he retreated to Kaua'i alone. But it is most widely believed that after their long and dangerous journey from Kaua'i, Lohiau had come to love and greatly admire Hi'iaka for her bravery, loyalty, kindness and beauty. He chose her for his wife and took her back to Kaua'i to be with him.
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