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Holo Mai Pele Synopsis

Pualani Kanahele

Pelehonuamea, the Fire Goddess and maker of land, bids farewell to Kahiki knowing that they can never return. One majestic canoe bears her gods, the other, her beloved family. Lonomakua, a favorite uncle and keeper of the sacred fire sticks, travels with PeIe as does Kamohoali’i, the eldest brother and esteemed navigator. He carries his steering paddle which possesses great power.

They arrive in Hawai’i nei at Nihoa island and begin their search for a suitable home. Pele employs Paoa, her divining rod, to dig for a proper fire home in this northernmost island. Nihoa proves unsuitable and the family moves on. Kaneapua, a younger brother, pushes the canoe out to sea as Kamohoali’i commands the steering paddle to take the canoe toward the horizon but Kaneapua is slow to jump into the canoe and is left on Nihoa. The islands of Kaua’i, O’ahu, and Maui are all tested by Paoa and are found wanting. Pele’s clan moves eastward to the fire caverns of Hawai’i. Their new home is to be Halema’uma’u at Kilauea.

Pele’s favorite is a younger sister who was born as an egg-child and kept cradled in the bosom of Pele, thus her name, Hi’iakaikapoliopele or Hi’iaka in the bosom of Pele. This is Hi’iaka’s story of her evolution from the egg-child to her godly status. Hi’iaka’s development also introduces the hula traditions as it develops in the cycle of the Pele and Hi’iaka saga.

Close to the sea at Puna is the place called Ha’ena. It is here that Hi’iaka is taught a simple hula by her new found friend Hopoe. The dance mimics the waves as it washes up on the pebbled shore, and the wind as it blows through the pandanus trees. It is here that Pele falls into a deep dream trance that transports her to the island of Kaua’i, where she meets and falls in love with Lohi’au.

Pele’s prolonged sleep alarms her sisters who are unable to wake her. They summon Hi’iaka who calls the wandering spirit of Pele to return to her body. Awake, PeIe yearns to see Lohi’au and asks her sisters to fetch her lover on Kaua’i, but they quickly refuse. Hi’iaka accepts the challenge and divines the name Lohi’au which impresses Pele. She then asks Pele to protect her beloved ‘ohi’a lehua groves and her friend Hopoe while she is gone. Pele hastily promises to honor Hi’iaka’s request to safe guard her lehua and Hopoe.

Hi’iaka is given a limit of forty days to complete this task. Pele also offers her Pa’uopalae who is knowledgeable of the fire clan rituals. Pele gives Hi’iaka a magical pa’u for protection. After their departure, they meet Wahine’oma’o with a black pig in her grasp. Wahine’oma’o tells them that she is giving this pig as an offering to Pele. Hi’iaka and Pa’uopalae decide to take this spry youthful woman with them when they resume their journey through Pana’ewa’s forest. Hi’iaka warns her party that the giant lizard Pana’ewa is waiting to attack. During the battle Pa’uopalae calls upon the might of the sky dogs of the gods Lono and Ku. Hi’iaka summons the entire Pele family of gods to battle. Hot lava sweeps the land and Pana’ewa is turned into a column of stone. Hi’iaka and Wahine’oma’o continue to Hana, Maui, to visit an older sister, Kapo’ulakina’u.

Kapo is well known for her powers in sorcery and divination skills needed by Hi’iaka. Upon her arrival she learns that Kapo and her husband Puanui have gone to visit the chief ‘Olepau. In sadness Hi’iaka wails to the pandanus fruit cluster, a manifestation of Kapo’ulakina’u. As the women move on, Wahine’oma’o is startled at the sight of a limbless woman trying to gather seaweed and shellfish off the rocks. A large wave rolls her over and Wahine’oma’o feels compassion for this woman. She is Manamana’iakaluea, a pathetic wandering spirit, that Hi’iaka heals on the spot.

Near the home of Chief ‘0lepau, Hi’iaka sees his spirit fleeting about. She catches his spirit and tucks it into her pa’u. She learns that Kapo has already left his home and only Waihinano is there watching over the sleeping chief. Hi’iaka requests food, water and shelter, however the haughty woman is inhospitable. Arrogantly, Waihinano extols her high status by reciting the chiefs impressive genealogy. Waihinano is rebuked and she and ‘0lepau are punished. Hi’iaka takes the spirit of ‘0lepau and dashes it against the rock, Pahalele, as a warning for all who reject and belittle the women of the fire pit.

On O’ahu at Kahana valley Hi’iaka and Wahine’oma’o are honored with an ‘awa ceremony given by Kauhikeimakaokalani, an elder relative. Kauhi is the stone guardian of a cliff who wishes to be released from his station. Hi’iaka can not assume responsibility and Kauhi is left in the face of the cliff as the two women continue to Ka’ena to their Kaua’i destination.

At Kaua’i, Hi’iaka seeks Malaeha’akoa, a well known but maimed seer and the keeper of Pele’s genealogy. They find his wife, Wailuanuiahoano, engrossed in tapa beating. Hi’iaka chants a reproach to this inhospitable woman and continues her search for Malaeha’akoa. Upon locating him Hi’iaka sees his withered limbs and quickly heals him. Grateful, he prepares a celebration for them and explains Pele’s history. The chants reveal the strengths and weaknesses of Pele. Malaeha’akoa ends by declaring that Lohi’au is dead.

The burden of the revivification rituals for Lohi’au are on the women. The revivification rituals coincide with the moon phases. Hi’iaka shoves the spirit of Lohi’au back into his body through the toes and then healing herbs are applied. Finally, Lohi’au is brought back to life and Hi’iaka can now deliver Pele’s lover.

But on their return trip through O’ahu, an old lover of Lohi’au, Pele’ula, offers her hospitality in a game of Kilu. The game of Kilu gives one the right and privilege to play for a love partner and Pele’ula has hopes that she will win Lohi’au for the evening. Although Hi’iaka is tired she is obliged to played this love game to keep Lohi’au from falling into the hands of Pele’ula. At the game’s end, Hi’iaka’s vision sees that Pele’s jealous impatience causes the devastation of Hi’iaka’s lehua groves and the death of Hopoe in Puna. Hi’iaka’s journey and experiences have prepared her to confront Pele.

Approaching Kilauea, Hi’iaka conjures a vision of herself and Lohi’au as lovers resting in the coolness of the shaded forest. Pele sees Hi’iaka and Lohi’au and in a rage sends lava to consume Lohi’au. Once again Lohi’au dies! Hi’iaka in utter disgust and anger digs deep into the core of the earth disrupting the balance of heaven and earth. Kanehoalani is called to queII the wrath of his youngest offspring. As the earthquakes and lightning subside Pele again gains control of her domain but she has learned not to challenge this youngest sibling again!


Copyright ©1996-97 – All Rights Reserved 

Reprinted by permission 1998
Mahalo Pualani and Joseph!

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