goddess Pele, has given them instructions, and if the Queen will only followthem, she will be restored to the throne.The word for goddess or god in Hawaiian is
, which is somewhatindeterminate.
can refer to forces, persons, or things—as long as they havea lot of
, which is a somewhat indeterminate word for spiritual power.According to the
is “an impersonal force or quality that residesin people, animals, and inanimate objects.” Actually, this lack of specificity is thepart of the secret power of the Hawaiian languagePrior to colonization, the Hawaiians did not have a written language. They didn’thave currency, either, and there is a connection. Anyway, words were meant tobe spoken aloud and understood in the immediate context of what was beingsaid. The multiplicity of meanings was intended to enhance spiritual and artisticassociations, not constrict them legalistically, as in written-word cultures.According to Serge Kahili King, a present-day shaman who lives on an activevolcano, “What this means is that, when we hear or read stories of an entity suchas Pele, the volcano goddess, we can never be certain whether the story is aboutthe spirit of a natural phenomenon, the human ancestor of a particular family line,or both, or neither.”
It is important to keep this in mind when considering the
women’s visit tothe Queen.Hiiaka is the goddess of Hawaiian culture. She had a human friend, a womannamed Hopoe, who taught her the hula dance. Hopoe’s name means “oneencircled as with a lei or loving arms,” and she became Hiiaka’s companion-lover. Now, the hula dance is a very sacred practice, a ritual so powerful thateven a tiny misstep can result in serious consequences for both the dancer andthe community. Because of this, apprentice dancers were ritually secluded andplaced under the protection of Laka, one of Hiiaka’s sister goddesses.
But for Hiiaka and Hopoe, the hula was a joyous celebration of their love, to bedanced in the sacred groves of their beautiful island … at least, until Hiiaka’solder sister Pele fell in love with a human chief named Lohiau and sent her younger sister on an errand to fetch him. Pele made Hiiaka promise not toseduce the chief during the journey, and, in turn, Hiiaka made Pele promise toprotect the sacred groves and Hopoe in her absence. Although Hiiaka performedher errand faithfully, she was delayed on the return trip, and Pele’s jealous