This is one of a series of personal paranormal stories I will relate here on the GRI site for posterity. In no way are these being submitted as “evidence”.
The stories I am sharing are personal experiences and stories as told by me and I swear that these events really occurred as related.
With it being Mother’s Day as I write this article and with all the stories of Hawaii in the news these days, I was reminded of a trip I took to the islands in which I had a couple of very strange paranormal encounters.
In the early 1990s, I took a series of trips to the Hawaiian islands. One of my favorite island visits was my trip to the Big Island where I spent a week exploring the island and taking in the sights. For several days, I made the 80 mile drive from Kona to the Kilauea and explored the volcanic vents, even witnessing the lava flowing across an old section of road at one point in my explorations.
I spent one day hiking across a significant portion of the upper crater area near Kilauea’s volcanic vent and saw the lake of lava for myself and decided to do as the natives did and to leave a small offering of a candle and a prayer to Pele as a sign of respect.
Not being native to the islands, I was simply giving a tip of the hat to a force of Nature whose presence one can feel just by looking around at the living landscape that makes up the islands. Never did I imagine that this force and spirit might give me a tip of the hat in return. Twice.
Kilauea Iki and being saved by the wind…
After I left my offering at the summit of Kilauea, I hiked down into Kilauea Iki, a smaller volcanic cone next to the big lava lake and was standing at the actual vent where Kilauea Iki last erupted in 1959. There is a sign there to be careful not to get too close which I, unfortunately, did not heed. I was trying to get a look into the vent and ventured just a little too close. My footing gave way and I began to slide straight down the hill into the chasm leading down into the vent. I had nothing to grab onto and was literally in the first moment of falling in.
The strangest thing happened at that very instant. I was literally shoved back by a very strong gust of wind, almost as if I had been snatched back. I fell on my back and held my camera in my hand and was a little shocked at what had happened. I slowly backed out and got to a safe spot and gave a silent prayer of thanks for still being alive. If I had fallen into that vent, I have no idea what would have happened… Badly injured at the least and if I had fallen into the vent hole, I would never have been found. I had the strange thought at the time that I had been saved by Pele and made sure to take no more chances at the volcano from then on.
The Goddess Pele
The Goddess Pele is a fact of life on the Islands and people visiting the islands should never mock the belief in this deity. Strange things happen in Hawaii and many a tale of paranormal encounters have come about from people who previously doubted Pele’s existence or mocked the ways of the native people who are very connected to the island mysteries.
The Native Hawaiian people are very keyed into her and view her eruptions as spiritual in nature. They even wax philosophically about her taking homes and land, citing that Pele created the island and can take what she wishes. It is up to we Humans to get out of her way. It would do we mainland folks well if we listened to the Hawaiian people’s stories and gave them more credence. One day I will return to the islands to experience more of what they have to offer and to talk with the Native people.
From my own paranormal research over the past ten years, entities like Pele are very real elemental forces that do have intelligence and are not to be dismissed as fantasy. They are most certainly real and living beings with great power. And I most certainly believe I had two very direct example’s of Pele’s power demonstrated to me firsthand.
I stayed one evening at the volcano well into the night to witness the lava glowing next to the sea and it was a sight I will never forget. The eruption flow doing downhill that is shown in the photo above was captured near sunset and I was transfixed as forests burned away as the lava made it’s way down the mountain and drained into underground lava tubes and poured into the sea. You can’t imagine such a sight… It has to be experienced in person to fully appreciate the sheer spectacle of seeing these great forces at work.
The dangers of the being near lava that is flowing are very real and I was given a chance to walk closer to the flows on one of the days I went to the ocean where the lava poured in. And for those who do visit these places, trust me, you should NEVER go in without an experienced professional guide. You can all too easily lose your life with one wrong step.
The USGS/ranger/geologist who I happened to run into was very nice and she took me in to witness the flow from a short distance away. The heat and fumes were intense and we stayed for about 10 minutes before being warned to get out before lava encircled us. We were more than glad to exit, but got some amazing photographs of the activity.
The lava flowed across the road in slow motion, crackling and pouring out bubbling asphalt smoke as the road literally burned from the intense heat. I have never seen such a site since and feel very privileged to have witnessed this amazing sight in person. The USGS geologist/ranger who happened to be there was taking folks in to the lava flows was very informative and smiled when I asked her about Pele. She said she believed in The Goddess and had a number of strange stories of her own from her time on the island. She also made sure to impress on me how lucky I was to get this close to the lava flowing and said very few of the many visitors to the island get this kind of a chance. I did feel very lucky to have seen it with my own eyes. If I remember right, she said that one in every 5,000 visitors to the island gets to see what we saw.
Pele On Highway 11
After witnessing the lava at night and having given my offering to Pele’ up on the main volcano earlier that day, I slowly made my way back to the main road, Highway 11, and drove my convertible rental back to where I was staying in Kona. Not long after I passed the area where Pahala is now, I had the music playing and was just enjoying my night drive back to the bed and breakfast I was staying at when I spotted a woman on the side of the road in the distance with my high beams on. There was no traffic that night and I was the only car on the road.
The woman kept walking up the grade next to the road. She was older with grayish hair and slightly stooped, moving slowly on the right side of the road, making a little room for me to pass her. I slowed and saw she wore a green and blue muumuu which covered her frail form. It was nearly 10:30 or so at night and the stretch of road I was on was such that we were far from any human habitation I could spot, other than the occasional macadamia farm. I continued to slow and became concerned for this woman being so far from any help in the dead of night. So I found a wide spot on the right just ahead of her and pulled off to see if I could offer this lady a ride.
Realize this; As I passed her, I looked right at her and she looked at me and slightly smiled. She had very piercing eyes. I couldn’t see features of her face because there was only ambient light from my car side illumination as the evening was pitch black, save for the car and the barest sliver of a moon that was still up. Still, there was a brief moment of communication between us as I slowly passed her and look directly at her. I can’t imagine how I looked to her, but I think surprised was the emotion I was feeling. So imagine my amazement as I got out of the car after parking only twenty or so feet ahead of her and turned and said “Ma’am can I help you?” and was looking at empty space. No one was there.
I scrambled around and looked at both sides of the road and circled the car to see if she was hiding near it. There was NO ONE there! And there was no place she could have gone! No trees, hills or brush to hide behind. Just a wide flat spot and a field to the right that was wide open with a hill up on the right. And behind me was open space heading out some distance to the seashore. She literally had up and disappeared on me!
I stood feeling rather spooked and perplexed and realized that this was likely some kind of ghost sighting. It was early in my life where I hadn’t yet dealt with paranormal matters as an investigator, but had dealt with ghosts and spirits on a number of occasions due to my family history of living in some very haunted places.
I had that odd feeling of being laughed at and the sensation of being watched and yet was not scared. In truth, I hoped I hadn’t missed seeing the old woman and had left a real flesh and blood lady in the lurch out on that lonely stretch of Hawaiian road. In my heart, I knew she had never been there as a mortal woman. She was something else. I got back in the car and pulled away, feeling a mixture of emotions, but mostly being confused and a little spooked at what had looked like a real flesh and blood woman one second and then empty space the next.
Pele’ is the Hawaiian goddess of fire, lightning, wind, and volcanoes as well as the creator of the Hawaiian islands. Pele’ also carries a staff, which she uses to know if the ground is dry. I did not see a staff, but it was night and she DID appear to be hunched over when I saw her. And she is well known to appear to we mortal folks as either a young woman or an older woman. I had briefly heard some of these tales of how she appears to people on my trips to the islands, but had never given them much thought beyond my respectful offering up at the volcano summit.
Having mentioned that Pele’ is the goddess of not only fire, but of lightning and wind, I cannot help but think that the wind that shoved me back from a nasty fall at Kilauea Iki was of her doing.
The next morning at breakfast, I mentioned my unusual sighting of the prior night and my near fall into the volcanic vent to my hosts at the bed and breakfast. They were an older retired couple and they looked at me in astonishment. I asked what was wrong.
“You’ve never heard about Pele’ on the road?” the husband asked? I shook my head. He smiled and said “Well… You must have done something right, because Pele’ herself appeared to you. Many people here have had that experience and the fact you stopped to help her was pleasing to her.”
I told him about my offering on the summit of the volcano and he and his wife plus the other guests smiled. We all agreed it was a really nice experience and I was left with a beautiful memory of the island, a mystical experience I shall never forget and and paranormal experience that I am but one of many to have had.
A story about these Pele’ hitchhiking rides is quoted below:
“If you are driving along Saddle Road (Highway 11), and you see a either a young and beautiful, or older woman with long white hair, who may or may not have a dog with her, you are supposed to pick her up, because she is actually the goddess Pele in disguise. If you don’t, the next time the volcano is erupting, your house will be destroyed by the lava.
The legend that goes along with this superstition, describes two different men. One had been driving on saddle road but refused to pick up a hitchhiking woman with white hair. A second man however, stopped and gave her a ride. When the volcano later began to erupt, the lava flow demolished the first guy’s house, but went right around the second man’s house.”
And it doesn’t end there. Pele can also visit people in their homes as quoted in Hawaii Life.
“There are many stories and lots of news articles in the past that speak of the Legend of Pele and the Law of Hospitality. As the local legend goes, when you see a beautiful Hawaiian lady with long hair, or an old lady with long, white hair dressed in a white robe, walking with a white dog—offer to give her a ride—and if she comes walking up to your house, treat her with respect like family and offer her something to eat and drink, and a place to relax. The legend is that Pele will give favor to anyone who treats her with Aloha, and when it is time for her lava to flow, your family and your property will be protected.
I wish I could show you all the images I’ve seen of Pele’s lava going all the way around houses, churches, stores, and property—somehow a prayer of protection is placed on them and the lava won’t even touch the walls of a property—4-5 lava flows later, properties are still being protected.”
My only advice to those traveling to the Big Island is this: If you see a young woman or old woman along Highway 11 in Hawaii, all alone and needing a ride, stop and be nice to her. You may well be in the presence of a powerful Goddess who will likely give you amazing blessings if your heart and mind are in the right place.
And if you are at the Volcano National Park, leave an offering for Pele’ in the form of a bottle of gin, flowers, fruits. You’ll be creating good karma and giving Pele’ the respect She deserves.