Classic Mysteries by Timothy Green Beckley
The Volcano and the Goddess
Before I went on my Hawaiian vision quest, I had heard about the strange phenomenon of fireballs from Arte Johnson, actor, comedian and at one time a regular on TV’s Laugh In series. I had been a stringer for the Enquirer and some of the lesser tabloids and regularly interviewed celebrities. To satisfy my own curiosity, I always tossed in a question or two pertaining to any personal belief or experiences with UFOs or the paranormal they might have had. Quite often I was rewarded with a fascinating story, some of which can be found in my literary masterpiece, UFOs Among The Stars.
Arte revealed that he and his wife had been making pilgrimages to the islands for quite a few years and had made friends with the Kahuna, the local shamans who have learned to utilize the powers of the mind to their fullest extent, enabling devotees to walk on fiery coals and to perform other feats of mind-over-matter.
Because of their willingness to accept that which is often considered taboo, Arte says that the Kahuna have taken both him and Gisela into their confidence, and have shown them what they consider to be the relentless wanderings of the dead.
“There’s a place on the Big Island,” says Arte, “where you can see lights which the local natives believe to be the spirits of unworthy souls, those who have not found their way into the equivalent of the Hawaiian heaven. We’ve seen that many times. They’re fireballs in the distance, and they travel from right to left over the harbor at Kona. They travel the same path all the time. The natives claim that in order to keep them away, you must swear at them. Well, since we started seeing them, we’ve learned to swear a lot.”
According to the entertainer, the meandering lights will often arrive in twos and threes, and then split up before they drop below the horizon. Johnson admits that he’s baffled.
“Personally,” he says, “I have no idea what they could be. The only airport in the area closes at sundown, so those lights don’t come from it, and we have seen these things at one and two in the morning. There certainly remains a big question in my mind. Until I find an answer, I have to think that maybe the natives are right, and that we are actually seeing ghostly apparitions. That’s as good an explanation as any. Before going to Hawaii, I never thought to believe in anything along these lines, but I’ve since found that many of the Hawaiians’ so-called superstitions have a basis in reality. For me, they’ve borne fruit!”
As my metaphysically minded colleague Maria Carta noted on our flight from the islands back to Kennedy Airport, “One almost gets the impression that there are more gods and spirits floating around in the Hawaiian nether-regions than there are people living in this wonderful land.”
“The truth is,” my psychic friend reflected, “that there are so many gods that nobody can remember their names. Therefore, there is even a name for all the gods as a group.”
Maria (a recognized psychic on the mainland) and I had flown to the Hawaiian Islands in 1986 as part of a research pilgrimage. With my lifelong interest in unidentified objects, which had gotten me the monocle MR UFO, naturally I wasn’t returning to my digs without looking into the matter of the mysterious fireballs Arte Johnson had been so excited about when I had spoken with him a decade before our travels.
Believe it or not, the islanders have a name for their version of UFOs or spook lights. They identified the specters as the akualete. Early in the trip, we hooked up with Kalani Hanohano, one of the most knowledgeable experts on the folklore of the islands whose now defunct journal Full Moon was read by scholars and laymen all over the world. Kalani amassed a huge file of anecdotal material pertaining to the akualete, which often appear at night, taking on the form of fireballs shooting across the sky and then evaporating or exploding in midair, breaking up into small flames, each moving and withering on their own, indicating that these puffs of light are animate objects. Much of the material here was supplied by Kalani.
Most often, the akualete are thought of by the Hawaiians as either ancestral or nature spirits. Mind you, they don’t dismiss them as being extraterrestrial in origin, it’s just not a theory that is easily applicable to their magically inclined heritage.
One resident related a fascinating tale involving the akualete and his more or less superstitious family. In this case, which was told to me by an elderly gentleman living on Maui, a mixed marriage had taken place, which was not acceptable to one side of the family due to racial and religious differences. One of the husband’s cousins brought in a Kahuna, who recited a prayer, the result of which brought a fireball to the bride and groom’s house. Neighbors saw the bright object fall on the house. The old Kahuna priest, however, could not properly execute the prayer because it required long breath control. He collapsed and was rushed to the hospital, where he lay dying.
The fireball had no real effect on the house. The elderly man told me that it was not because the Kahuna failed in his prayer, but because the young groom was the descendant of the Ma’iola god and had not needed to swear to render the fireball impotent.
In another instance, there was an 88-year-old woman living at Maunalani Heights on Oahu who said that in the 1940s she was startled by a bright light at her front door. It was a fireball. She said that someone in her family was against her. She prayed for divine guidance, and in a dream that night she learned that one family member was jealous of her.
I also learned that a male Hawaiian living in the Kailua area on the Kona Coast of Hawaii said that when he was a young man, a fireball of bright yellow light crashed through the air and flew over and under some trees. He was just about to swear at it when the akualete smashed into a tree and exploded into lots of small flames.
Fireball witnesses are apparently plentiful. I had no trouble finding people who had seen them. One young man told me that while he was driving down Old Pali Road on Oahu a fireball passed slowly in front of his car. The engine died. But as soon as the fireball left, the engine kicked into life again.
In another case, two men were driving along the same Old Pali Road when a fireball appeared. The driver stopped the car, got out and started to swear. The fireball broke up into small balls. The driver told me that those flaming fragments become little mythical men called e’epa, elemental beings no doubt!
A 17-year-old female once saw a fireball hovering above her head at about fifty feet. It spun in flight and then crashed to the ground. A man and his wife spotted a huge luminous blue fireball that fell almost at their feet. When the wife tried to touch it, it reared up and flew away.
Blazing Stars and Flying Flames
Earthlights have been long associated with erupting volcanoes. A couple of years back, I flew to Costa Rica as my alter ego Mr. Creepo on American Express travel points to film a low budget horror epic titled Skin Eating Jungle Vampires. Yet, despite the primary reason for my trip, I could not let the paranormal take a backseat to anything else. (Besides, the jeep my lead actress Carla Anderson and I rented didn’t have one!)
If you’ve been to Costa Rica, you realize there isn’t much in the way of highway markers to lead you in the right (or any) direction. So we were lost in the jungle for two days before we arrived at our destination. The Arenal volcano is always blowing its stack. Some days it would be less active. Other days you would think the volcano was going to spew forth molten lava like it last did a few years ago, killing several people.
On our way, we stopped wherever we could to refuel and look for a compass (almost impossible to find anywhere in the country). Nearing the volcano, we had a bite to eat at a restaurant where the lady proprietor spoke English (Spanish is the national language). When we mentioned UFOs, her eyes lit up.
“They have been around the volcano where you are going for years,” she told us while running back and forth to the kitchen. “The locals believe that the objects draw on the energy of Arenal.”
The “Arenal Lights,” we were told, are most often described as “blazing stars” or “flying flames.” Seen at night, they are bright green or orange like the end of a hot poker. Supposedly there is some sort of hidden base beneath the volcano.
Likewise, in Popocatepeti, Mexico, UFOs have been seen and photographed skyrocketing in and out of the active volcano over the course of the last few years (surf over to JeffRense.com for more details). We have also been told that there have been many sightings of earthlights in the twilight around Mount St. Helen’s in Washington, just above its rim at 8300 feet. Many of these luminous objects were seen just before Mount St. Helen’s last major eruption, and there was another spate of UFOs seen there in 2004-2005. So what should we expect but another “blowup” shortly?
One thing our extensive research has shown us is that the volcanoes of Hawaii have it all over any other volcanoes in the world as far as strange phenomena go, tying in directly with the state’s patron fire goddess, known as Madame Pele.
Madame Pele’s Warnings
Madame Pele is the Polynesian goddess of fire. Many Hawaiians consider her to be very real. Many more who pride themselves on being “civilized and sophisticated” would nevertheless think twice about doing anything to offend her. When she first came to Hawaii, legend has it Madame Pele took up residence in the crater on Diamond Head, which is the famous landmark at the end of Waikiki Beach. When the islands had their first leader, Kamehameha, she moved to Kilauea. She favored the great leader and took his side during his early conquests, causing the volcano to erupt at the right time to cut off enemy troops with her lava.
Madame Pele is actually said to live in the pit crater of Halemaumau, which is in the center of Kilauea’s caldera (cauldron). She is both loved and feared. You do not offend Pele. Chances are that nothing will happen if you do, but then…who knows? Something may just happen.
The old Hawaiian legend has it that shortly before an eruption, Madame Pele makes an appearance in human form. This is her way of warning the people to beware. On May 14, 1924, at Waiohinu in the southwest province of Ka’u on the Big Island, The Honolulu Advertiser reported that a resident had seen a tall, strange but beautiful woman dressed in white and with flowing red hair.
At the time, there was very little tourism in Hawaii, and the natives tended to know each other. The individual was a stranger. Several other people reported seeing the same unusual woman walking along a country lane. She spoke to no one and was not seen again. Four days later, on May 18, Kilauea, which had been rumbling for nearly a month, exploded. Huge, towering clouds of dust rose more than 20,000 feet above the crater. An eight-ton boulder was lifted into the air and deposited a quarter of a mile away.
Madame Pele had given her warning.
The Phantom Hitchhiker
From time to time, witnesses come forth with strange stories of meeting Madame Pele on the roads around the volcano.
Recently a man was traveling from Kamuela to Hilo. It was about eight o’clock at night and he was on a lonely stretch of Saddle Road. He suddenly saw a woman standing beside the road. He pulled over. He asked her where she was going and she said, “To Hilo.” He gave her a lift. She sat in the back seat. She was quiet. A few miles later, he turned around to say something to her, but she was gone. Frightened, he floored the gas pedal and sped into Hilo to tell someone that he had had Madame Pele in his car.
I spoke to a bus driver who had a frightening experience. He told me that late one night he was driving his bus on the volcano road when he spotted an elderly woman waiting at the bus stop. He picked her up. She was the only passenger on the bus and she told him where she would like to get off. When he reached the spot, he stopped the bus and opened the door. He waited for the woman to get off, but she didn’t. He turned to see where she was. She was gone. The experience scared him so much that he quit the job.
Our friend, Joseph Ilda, a herbal healer who was nearing ninety when we met him, had seen Pele twice and says he can tell from the way she is dressed what kind of disaster is likely to transpire.
“Dressed as a white ghost, it means that there will soon be a volcanic eruption,” he contends. “If she appears in a long cape similar to the one worn by the late Hawaiian kings, you can rest assured that there will be a tidal wave or hurricane.”
On the other hand, if Pele is dressed in black, Joseph feels that “sudden death” or a “great tragedy” is not likely to be more than 24 hours away.
Joseph Ilda feels somehow that the ability to see Madame Pele is inherited.
“This type of thing usually runs in the family,” he says. “My grandfather was stopped on the road by her and told he shouldn’t pass. Later, he found there was some sort of disaster just up ahead. Another time, the spirits spoke to him and told him where some old Hawaiian silver pieces were buried. He found them exactly as he was directed.”
Joseph was driving with three young men when he saw Pele at the side of the road. She was dressed in a long cloak and was soaking wet. “We went on our way fishing,” he said, “and I said we should turn around. I told them that there was going to be trouble in three days. I was so certain about this that I tried to contact my wife, who had gone away fishing on the other side of the island. When I couldn’t reach her myself, I had the police get in touch with her to tell her to return home before the rains and wind hit. Luckily, she got back before the road washed out.”
“Funny thing is, there was considerable damage all around our house. The roofs of the two homes on either side of us were blown right off and one of them even damaged our back fence, but our house wasn’t touched at all.”
Proof once again that Madame Pele warns those who believe in her!
Who is Madame Pele?
She is a goddess who legend has it came from Tahiti to live in Hawaii with her seven brothers and six sisters. All of the children were experts in some form of sorcery and in the hula. Pele can assume many body and object forms. She can change herself into a blazing flame, a beautiful young girl or an old hag.
When Madame Pele is a beautiful woman, she is given to ferocious tantrums of rage and jealousy. In a snit, she can stamp her foot on the ground and cause it to tremble with earthquakes. Cracks will suddenly appear in the soil and there will be huge torrents of molten lava, which will chase those who have angered her. Sometimes the fire goddess will ride the first wave of liquid rock, screaming oaths and throwing flaming boulders at her enemies. This is the side of Madame Pele that is seen most often. Her most prominent emotions are all negative—anger, jealousy, bad temper and sulkiness.
These are all aspects of things we have heard in regard to our alien planet while conducting this study. Whatever you can say or conclude about Pele, she is certainly an important aspect of the world we live on.
Editor’s Note: This article was reprinted with permission of the author from Our Alien Planet: This Eerie Earth (Global Communications, 2005), which he co-authored with Sean Casteel. A review of this book appeared in the February issue of this magazine.