Arts and Culture

Hawaiian Volcano Lore

A Girl, a Boy, and a Goddess

Big Island’s Kīlauea volcano is currently making worldwide headlines with its ferocious eruptions, spewing miles of new lava terrain. Did you know Ohia trees are some of the first plants to recolonize these barren fields? Therefore, now is the perfect time to refresh our Hawaiian culture with the retelling of a classic Hawaiian legend! #luckyyoulivehawaiinei

There’s an old Hawaiian folktale about the Ohia tree and it’s Lehua blossoms. It involves a girl, a boy, and a goddess.

The following is a “Top-Ten” excerpt of the fable:

  1. There once was a beautiful, young woman named Lehua who loved a strong and handsome young man named Ohia.
  2. Ohia was so handsome that the goddess, Pele, wanted Ohia for herself.
  3. However, Ohia loved Lehua absolutely and could not be tempted away from her.
  4. Pele became enraged when refused by Ohia and as she stamped her foot, lava spurted up, encircling Ohia and Lehua.
  5. While the lava covered Ohia’s body, he held his beloved Lehua aloft to protect her and Lehua caressed Ohia’s face as she cried.
  6. All the while Pele was enacting her revenge, the ‘apapane bird loved Lehua and came to her aid by soliciting help from the forest spirits. These spirits attempted to help the young lovers as best they could.
  7. As the lava consumed Ohia, the forest spirits allowed him to be transformed into a tree.
  8. Sparks from the lava landed in Lehua’s hair as she was held high in the branches of the Ohia and they appeared red and gold in the light. Suddenly, Lehua disappeared and red and gold blossoms covering the Ohia tree replaced her, allowing the lovers to never be separated from each other.
  9. The Apapane bird can still be seen to this day, visiting his friend, Lehua who is held securely in the branches of Ohia.
  10. If Lehua blossoms are plucked from the Ohia tree, it is said it will rain soon and the rain that falls are Lehua’s tears at being separated from her love.

The full-length version of this saga is enchanting. Click here to read its entirety.

This fable is just one of many historic folktales unique to these islands. Part of the charm of living here is feeling like you are in another world. Hawai‘i’s history and culture is exclusive to any other of our 50 United States. Life in Hawai‘i is special. Check out some of our Islands’ unique properties here!

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Gary Amens

May 29, 2018

I loved the story! I’ve hiked down in Kilauea crater, obviously prior to this eruption! LoL

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