There is something about visiting an island with the world's most active volcano that is intriguing and powerful. Especially when that volcano exudes the power and essence of a modern day goddess called Pele, whose home is Halemaumau, the fire pit of the crater of Kilauea volcano.
According to Hawaiian legend, Pele came to reside in Kilauea after travelling through the Hawaiian island of Niihau and then Kauai, digging into various parts of the island to try and create a firepit to reside in. She then moved on to Oahu, Molokai, Maui and finally Hawaii where she at last found her home in Kilauea for her family to live in. It is interesting to note that her 'mythical' route actually followed the progression of volcanic activity in geological time. The Hawaiian people are very tuned into nature and her cycles, as it turns out.
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Pele is revered and very much respected by Big Island residents. And rightly so. On my recent adventure to Big Island I developed a deep respect for this volcano energy. As a kinesthetic person, I tend to feel the energy of a place in my body when I visit. This is especially true for Big Island. Each time I visit, it is as though Pele herself is 'working on me'. It is said by local people that each of the Hawaiian Islands represents one of the seven chakras - or energy centres - of the body. Big Island is said to represent the Root Chakra, which, according to Eastern philosophy, links us to the physical world, providing solidity and support, and is the foundation of energy. The color associated with this chakra is red, symbolizing life, vitality and strength. Red represents heat, fire and anger, and what is interesting is that this is exactly the energy that Pele stirs up, with her red liquid fire bursting angrily forth from the bowels of the earth and paving her formidable bright red path of destruction.
There are many stories equating Pele's wrath, usually stimulated by jealousy or someone's arrogance, to volcanic eruptions or destructive lava flows. In fact, the Hawaiian word pele means molten lava.
It is all too easy to fear the intensity of this energy. When it is respected rather than feared then it can be experienced in a way that harmonises with the body and can be a very healing force. I was aware of this whilst in close proximity to the flowing lava, and I tried to remember to just let my body feel it and let go! I definitely felt richer for the experience even though it was intense at times, as though the river of molten lava was cleansing me from the inside out.
The most wonderful thing about visiting Big Island is local people's reverence for Pele. Living so close to such a powerful and destructive force of nature certainly commands humility and respect! I noticed that even folks who may not be aligned with any particular spiritual path seemed to have a natural connection with the energy of the place. Such is the magic of all of the Hawaiian Islands - in my observation folks who live here seem to be innately connected to the land in a relaxed and unceremonious way. This is what makes a visit to Hawaii so special. The rich culture of the islands is apparent and alive.