The Hawaiian goddess Pele and other legends

In Hawaii where I live, the indigenous people have mythologies surrounding their deity Pele who is the goddess of fire and volcanoes.

Today, when people bring volcanic rocks from Hawaii as souvenirs, it supposedly is as if they’re taking Pele’s children. Those people go back home and say that horrible misfortunes that befall them.

If such curses do actually exist, here’s my question: is Pele a demon?

My question comes out of this reasoning: there are only two supernatural forces that exist – God’s forces and evil forces. There is nothing else. I don’t think we can believe that God assents to curses being put on people who take volcanic rock out of Hawaii. Ergo, it isn’t God; seemingly, it has to be demonic.

There are a couple other pieces of Hawaiian mythology about which I’ve wondered. Like, there are supposed to be what are called “Night Marchers,” which are sort of the ghosts of old Hawaiian armies. The story is that they go around and if you see them, you die; another version I’ve read is that you disappear. If these are real, are they demons? I couldn’t see God being interested in doing that.

Last myth, there’s a highway here where if you take pork with you, your car dies out. The story goes that spirits around the area are hungry and want the pork. Again, I think we can be pretty sure God doesn’t care about pork; our Judeo-Christian beliefs would tell us that God would be more concerned about feeding the impoverished in the world. If they aren’t God’s spirits, there can only be the possibility that they are demons.

Of course, whether or not these mythologies are true is up for question. here supposedly are stories of people who’ve encountered these things, so if they are real, are they demonic?

Some further reading: (website to help people who want to return their rocks)

Hawaii has returned to its Pagan roots in this junk about Pele and all that. These practices were eradicated by Catholic missionaries.

Its a crime that missionaries who shed blood and sacrificed their lives to bring God to these people are being betrayed by this resurgence of paganism. Hawaii isn’t the only place this occurs. People are reverting to Druidic practices and “nature worship” all over the world, reverting back to ancient practices that were Christianized or eradicated hundreds of years ago. Its a short trip from this to demonic worship.

To understand this, read about missionaries anywhere and the explanation of paganism. Nothing has changed and the examples mimic what is happening in Hawaii.

In short, Paganism is worshiping the created thing, not the Creator. When we put anything before the worship due our Creator, we sin. No tree or volcano is due the honor that belongs to God. This leads to demonic worship.

Nature itself is not demonic. But worshiping Nature instead of our Creator brings in the influence of the demonic. Its a matter of proper perspective.

The proper hierarchy is that we are to take care of Nature, as God put Nature under our supervision. Respecting nature and the environment, nurturing it, correctly using it and caring for it is man’s charter. Nature is our charge, while we ourselves are subject to God our Creator.

For the myths and encounters with ghosts, we are taught caution in this. If we seek out contact with this kind of thing, we must go to confession. If odd things happen, through no fault of our own, that is different. The Church hasn’t defined ghosts and whether or not the dead can continue to suffer in this world - but we are strictly charged to stay away from all of it.

We have no way to differentiate between a good dead soul and that of a demon impersonating a human. This is why we are to stay away from Ouija boards, seances, spiritism and all of that. Its just risky. We can become influenced by evil even to the extent of possession, obsession or petty annoyances. Its NOT worth it.

You never know ‘who’ is behind this activity and we put ourselves at great risk when we play around with it, even in curiosity.

That was all superbly said, Tina.

Thanks Le Chiot Noir for your kind words. aw shucks! :blush:

No problem. I am especially appreciative of your insight because I hail from the Philippines where similar reversions occur, and what’s more, there is a disturbing tendency, particularly among the uneducated, to myticize and attribute magical qualities to even very Catholic and Christian rites, devotions, and items. Truly, the Evil One is a master of lies and can only pervert the truth.

I’d also like to mention that you’ve provided me an opportunity to reflect on the irony of the ‘advance of civilization’, as it were.

It seems that where science and the spread of secular thinking once promised to abolish all superstitions and attachments to magic by ushering in a new golden age of reason, the opposite is coming true; with the increasing ambivalence of secular thinking to what is true, its nature rooted in relativism is revealed-- superstition and attachment to magic is on the rise again.

Because science cannot address the questions of religion and morals, it therefore concludes that they are all equally valid (a position I’ve oft seen held here by atheists). The result is the paradoxical re-emergence of witches and druids just as humanity is firing up the Black Hole Machine.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is ‘thank you’. You’ve given me a very nice bone to chew on. :smiley:

Le Chiot Noir,
Very interesting comments! I am sorry to hear this news about the Philippines.

“attribute magical qualities to even very Catholic and Christian rites, devotions, and items” - like the Santos of voodoo and Hispanic countries on this side of the world, huh.

Throwing out Christianity creates the vacuum as you describe, and then it is filled with something else. Proves how the human heart longs for a “god”. That’s the way God made us.

You bring to mind our paradox here in the U.S. of the constitutional law for separation of Church and State. Our country was founded on the Judeo-Christian ethic. The stipulation of separation means the government cannot force a religion on you, nor keep you from practicing one. However, when all religions are given equal weight, then Christian and Satanic religions could be treated the same I s’pose. A terrible dilemma when man loses his grip on the real God.

Thanks for your response.

I’m very fully aware about the prohibitions about conjuring them. That wasn’t the question at hand. The question was, if those things are real, are they, in reality, demonic?

It’s much more advanced than it being right or wrong to participate in that. It is most obviously definitely wrong, but if they are demonic, there are theological and inter-religious implications that this carries.

Also, it isn’t restricted to just a respectful protection of nature. I was referring to the supernatural aspects, not the natural. The seemingly supernatural aspects were like those that I listed; again, since God wouldn’t seem to be behind it, is it in reality the devil who causes these?

Basically, my reasonoing is this:
Supernatural stuff supposedly happened, but they are bad. God is good. Hence, can we say those supernatural things are demonic?

The thing is, then, this would mean that the pre-Christian people here were worshipping the devil. If that is the case for the indigenous Hawaiians, that may be the case for all non-Abrahamic religions.

This has a lot of Thomistic implications. As Saint Thomas believed, all people naturally have the propensity to find God, hence people made up their own religions to fill up the God-shaped holes in their hearts and minds. There is a school of thought that God still did not abandon the ancient Egyptians, Romans, Greeks, Hawaiians, Indians, Native Americans, etc., in their religious philosophies, but was still with them in some rather diminished fashion. This seems to be the opinion of the post-Vatican II era. It is, of course, wrong to prefer one of those ancient beliefs systems over Christianity.

To clarify, though, they weren’t eradicated by Catholic missionaries. Missionaries to Hawaii were mostly protestants back then. Funny thing is, when Catholicism came to the islands, it didn’t have to battle with pagans – the difficulties came from the protestants at the time. The Kings and Queens patroned Episcopalianism and they did a lot to stifle any Catholic progress here.

Lastly, to say that the people of Hawaii have reverted would be inaccurate. I think we could compare it better to how people on the mainland are fascinated by Indian things. For some silly reason, people like feeling exotic (kids go to summer camps to copy Native Americans; when they grow up, they go to Hawaii to copy Native Hawaiians). While almost nobody worships these old Hawaiian deities, they’re myths that get passed down. Few take them seriously, but like I noted in the original post, there are some odd aspects that appear to be supernatural, and that was the aim of my question: are those supernatural things disguised evil?

Interesting comments on Hawaii. Its Protestant roots explain the present state of the Catholic Church there. Captain Cook would have been Church of England, and the New England missionaries certainly brought no Catholicism! No offense meant, but my son spent time there in the Navy and suffered a lot from the ‘relaxed’ attitude towards Catholicism. I’m not saying good Catholics don’t exist there.

But back to your question… I have mulled this same question you have. It is not just in Hawaii where pagan practices, even the most unremarkable, flourish today.

As I said, “Its a short trip from this to demonic worship.”

Strictly speaking, anything that gives what is due our Creator could be called ‘satanic’, since the devil is a form of the absence of good. These activities give honor that is due our Creator, anything not good, is well, evil. But this is a very strict interpretation, which doesn’t necessarily apply to everything.

Its easier to answer this question if there is direct intention to deny the Creator in these activities.

Maybe the more direct question, that I can’t answer, is “what constitutes satanic practices?” If the answer is ‘any activity that rightly belongs to our Creator’, then yes, it is. There are so many nuances involved, it is too difficult to paint it black or white.

Muddying the question is depth and severity, intention, knowledge and understanding… I think of the work of St Patrick in Ireland with the Druids. Were these practices considered satanic? Yet St Patrick lost no time exhorting the people away from worshiping nature, so he saw its effects and its inherent denial of the Creator. Did the Druids think they were worshiping the devil? I dunno. But it was worth stopping this. Missionaries all through history fought and exhorted and converted cultures that didn’t know Jesus, as well as those who honored the creation rather than the Creator. And in each of these situations there were differing levels of good and evil. The American Indian wasn’t satanic but St Isaac Jogues still suffered martyrdom on these people’s behalf. On the other hand the Aztecs who were decimating their own population with human sacrifice and blood lust may well have had satanic influence which Cortez fought furiously and bravely.

In the case of Hawaii and nature worship, it would take a case-by-case study to answer correctly.

What the Church teaches is that we must avoid this kind of thing because of where it leads.

And of course you also get things happening purely by chance. If they fit the pattern of a legend, people will remember them, whereas if somebody goes driving around with a roast pig in back and nothing happens, there’s no story. :slight_smile:

I have to say that a lot of the old Hawaiian religion was… not so nice. It was partially designed to enforce a rather harsh “caste system” of privileged nobles vs. everybody else, so there were all sorts of legends of horrible things that would happen to you if you broke religious rules. The ominous legends of today stem from this sort of thing.

Which is not to say that demons might not have had a hand in, or might be taking advantage of legends even today.

But it’s also important to remember that all religions also have inklings of God’s truth in them, like signposts of grace pointing to Christianity and preparing people to worship God fully. God does not abandon His children to the wolves.

So ignore the bad stuff, enjoy the good and the beautiful and the true, trust in the power of the Cross, and don’t worry too much about possible demons. As long as you don’t get sucked into believing superstitions, you’ll be okay.

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