Bio: Brooks, Pearl (1925)

Contact: Crystal Wendt

Surnames: Brooks, Jagger

----Source: Neillsville Press (Neillsville, Clark County, Wis.) Thursday, 04/30/1925

Brooks, Pearl (30 April 1925)

SAW HAWAIIAN FIRE CEREMONY

The following letter was received recently by Mr. and Mrs. Charles Brooks of Granton, from their daughter Pearl, who teaches in Hawaii. It is of unusual interest:

Papaikou, Hawaii, March 28, ‘25.

Dear ones at home:

You will probably note that you will miss a letter from me that should have been written last week. The reason, you no doubt know, is that I have looked in vain for one from you for the past three weeks.

I am sure you would like to be with me now to enjoy the rain. I doubt that there is another spot on earth where water can pour from the heavens in such volumes as it does here. Yet people paddle about in it carrying their oiled paper Japanese or Chinese umbrellas as if they actually enjoyed it.

I went up to the volcano last Saturday to hear and see the Hawaiians appeal to and offer sacrifices to "People", the godess of fire, who is suppose to control the action of the fire pit Halemaumau.

The drive to Kilauea is about thirty miles and although the rain was pouring in torrents here, we were soon above the clouds and enjoying warm sunshine. The road, which is well paved winds in and out among beautiful tree ferns. If you can imagine the ferns which grow in our woods being tripled in size and place at the top of twenty foot tree trunk which has bark that looks very much like the outside of a cocoanut removed from its outer shell, you can picture, in part, how these thee-ferns look. Sprinkled among these is the lovely Leihue blossom which is red in color and about the size of our snowballs.

Looking over and beyond, we had a wonderful view of stately. Mauna Kea rising thousands of feet higher, and with its summit snow capped above the hazy blue coloring of its base.

We stopped for a few minutes at the entrance to the lava tube but did not explore the cave because we lacked time. I have a horror of that anyway. Its spooky memories still cling since I went through it three years ago. We paused long enough to look into the depths of Kilaueaike, an extinct fire-pit which has now large Koa forests that look like small bushes from such a height.

As we left his we entered the crater of Kilauea and rode about five miles before we came to the fire-pit, Halemaumau, the home of "Pele". The shape of the entire crater has changed much since I saw it before. The explosion which took place last spring covered the ground with ashes, small stones and huge boulders, while before we walked over great rolls of dried lava. Throughout that whole area of the crater, we saw steam rising from cracks and when one chanced to step near them, he found the heat to be intense.

We arrived at the fire-pit, we found crowds of people there; some were from the other islands, but others were almost any part of the United States and England. I met a lady from Maine and one from Boston; but that is quite usual here in this land of tourists.

The fire-pit appeared vastly different from what if did when I saw it before. Then it was filled with seething molten lava only two hundred feet from the top, while now you faze down 1500 feet and see the bottom which is a bed of dried lava and boulders that were blown up only to fall back. In some places the sides of the pit look very dangerous and a landslide did occur while we were there and nearly frightened the people into a panic. I guess they though "Pele" was coming back immediately with vengeance.

The ceremony began with a prayer in Hawaiian (apula) by an old Hawaiian ninety years of age. He is a "kahuna", that means a prophet or one who can converse with the gods. They are supposed to be able to pray people to death. He took the part of "Kahuna" in the photoplay, " The White Flower". After the prayer he chanted and so did various other old time Hawaiians. Then they offered a little pig done up in "Ti" leaves as a sacrifice to "Pele" together with the awa root, a special favorite of "Pele’s". They did much chanting and then many hulu dances while the older Hawaiians beat upon the gourd. The dancers threw floral "leis" (wreaths) to "Pele" and there was more chanting. Of course by this time it was dark, pitch dark, too, which added to the weirdness of the scene. The Hawaiians were lighted by the kukui nut torches which cast a sickly glow and made the steam rising from the pit and mingling with the clouds look most forbidding and gruesome.

After the rites were ended we drove back out of the crater and went to the Volcano Hotel which is located near the Observatory where Dr. Jagger does all his experimenting and studying on the action of the volcano. The Hotel is a beautiful one as it would need to be to attract so many tourists. There we had a wonderful dinner and enjoyed the dance out on the lanai (porch).

It was really a wonderful day and we dreaded to come back to earth, as it were, and the rain here.

Aloha nui loa,

Pearl.

 

 


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