I didn’t know anything about Pele’s Curse until it was too late.
After visiting the black sand beach at Waianapanapa State Park in Maui on Sunday, I made sure to get every last remaining bit of black sand and rock out of my water shoes, because the last thing I wanted to do was accidentally bring home even a trace of the stuff.
This was my first time re-visiting a black sand beach in Hawaii after a really strange incident occurred a couple years back when I visited the Big Island. I realize how ridiculous this is all about to sound, but, here’s the story.
Pele’s Curse: Don’t mess with the black sand
Back when I first started traveling, my mother would ask me to bring her back souvenirs – but not the traditional type. The types of souvenirs she enjoyed were actual bits and pieces of the places I visited, so while most people turned to gift shops to bring back things for their family, I turned to the ground. She has a very small, broken piece of a Giza pyramid from Egypt, a feather that had landed on Jim Morrison’s grave in Paris, and stones from the ground inside the Colosseum in Rome, just to name some.
When I went to the Big Island, I thought it would be cool to bring her back some black sand in a water bottle. I also decided to bring some of the large, smooth black lava rocks that were located all over the island. I only grabbed a couple and filled a water bottle about halfway, but apparently that was all it took.
I knew nothing about Pele’s Curse at the time; I’ve never even heard of it.
Bad things started happening
I gave these things to my mom, she liked them and thought they were pretty neat, and that was that.
And then her dog got sick.
Not just a little sick, but very ill. The vet didn’t know what was wrong with him, and actually thought it could possibly be an extremely rare form of cancer. The vet, plus other specialists he consulted, seemed baffled by the dog’s condition. But I didn’t make any connection to this to giving my mom black rocks.
When my husband Joe and I were visiting with his mother, who once lived in Hawaii for many years, she asked about our trip and he had casually mentioned that I brought back some black rocks for my mom.
She suddenly froze and her mouth dropped open.
“That’s bad luck,” she said seriously.
I asked her to explain. I am usually not very superstitious, but I’m not one for taking chances, either. Because you just never know.
“I don’t know details,” she said. “I just know it’s supposed to be very bad luck.”
At this point I decided to do some research, and I read about Pele, the Hawaiian goddess, and more about Pele’s Curse. According to the legend, anyone who removes black rocks from Hawaii will face a tremendous streak of bad luck. Apparently, Pele viewed these rocks as her children, and she wanted to punish anyone who had taken her “children” away from her.
I kept reading, and a chill ran down my spine when I saw that many people lost their pets to unexplained causes. I know it seems nuts, but, I couldn’t help but wonder now if the two were related. And if they were, was there any way to fix it? Was Pele’s Curse for real?
An attempt to make things right
It seemed foolish and like a complete long shot, but I was desperate to try anything. I also couldn’t figure out why my mom’s dog was the one being punished. She wasn’t the one who took the rocks.
“Maybe it’s because you took the rocks for your mom, so it’s based on your intentions and who actually wanted them,” Joe suggested. Did Pele’s Curse work that way? I don’t know.
I found out that many people end up mailing their black rocks to the Big Island’s Volcano National Park, and when they do this, the curse is lifted. Allegedly, the park gets tons of packages filled with rocks. Some say this entire curse was fabricated by the state of Hawaii in order to prevent people from taking the rocks, but you know what? Something really strange was going on here and I needed to try to do what I could to make things right.
I told my mom what we needed to do, and after she laughed at me and called me an idiot, she too was then willing to try anything. She packaged the rocks up and off to the post office we went.
When my mom handed the post worker the package, he smiled. It was an eerie smile.
“The Volcano National Park in Hawaii, eh?” he asked. His smile grew. It was almost as if he knew what was happening.
As soon as we left the post office and within seconds of getting in the car, my mom received a phone call from my dad.
“I don’t want to get your hopes up, but I’ve got good news,” he told my mom. “Suddenly, the dog is beginning to eat again. Looks like his appetite is returning.”
My dad had no idea what we were up to or that there was some Hawaiian curse that we were entertaining as a potential cause for the dog’s illness. I know it sounds ridiculous and made up, but I assure you, it’s not. Within days, the dog was completely back to normal and the vet was even more baffled. I can’t really explain what happened and it would be silly to say that I do completely believe in this curse, but you know what?
My mom’s souvenirs now come from gift shops. If someone you know wants you to bring back some black sand, bring them a picture of it instead and don’t mess with Pele’s Curse.
Essential travel information
Flights: Tons of round-trip, direct flights from the United States available via Hawaiian Airlines.
Hotels: At the time, I was collecting and redeeming Hyatt points, so I stayed at all Hyatt properties (except for the Big Island). For our most recent trip to the Big Island, I stayed at the wonderful Holualoa Inn, which I highly recommend.
Activities, tours, and everything else: No matter where you’re traveling in Hawaii, you can save a ton of money by purchasing one of these awesome coupon books from Entertainment.com, which feature savings on pretty much everything throughout Hawaii.