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Many unsuspecting people are understandably tempted to take some beautiful lava rocks home from their Hawaiian vacation as prized keepsakes. But beware: this practice angers ‘Pele,’ the Hawaiian volcano goddess.

Pele is probably the best known of the legendary Hawaiian demigods. She creates and destroys with fire. Pele has a quick temper, takes offenses seriously, and is very protective of her lava rocks.

Since Pele created the islands with lava and volcanoes, lava rocks are like her flesh or pieces of her being. It’s said that misfortune will befall anyone who removes lava rock away from Hawaii. This caution also applies to black sand, which is pulverized lava rock.

Is the bad luck curse a myth or the truth? I wouldn’t bet against it. There used to be a large display at the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park of lava rocks sent back to Hawaii by visitors who have had bad luck since taking the rocks home. Letters of apology accompanied the rocks begging Pele for forgiveness. Alas, the display became too big to maintain — even for the Big Island. However, if you would like to return lava rocks you have taken from any Hawaiian Island you can return the rocks to Pele via mail to: Pele, c/o Headquarters, Volcanoes National Park, Volcano, HI 96785.

Our friend, The Big Kahuna, says that the best practice is to leave everything you find in Hawaii in Hawaii. The saying to “Take only pictures; leave only footprints” applies well in Hawaii. Besides, the islands were formed by lava. So, if everyone who left Hawaii took rocks, soon there would be no Hawaii left to visit. The Big Kahuna says: “Take only gifts you are given (like flower lei’s); and leave only with Aloha.”

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