Local post offices have been receiving mysterious packages containing only rocks and other removed relics of the Hawaiian landscape.

By Gillie Houston
Updated May 24, 2017
Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, Hawaii
Credit: Photo © Peter French/Courtesy of Four Seasons Resort Hualalai

In science class we learned about sedimentary rocks, metamorphic rocks, and igneous rocks—but what about rocks carrying an ancient sinister curse? That's the variety that countless Hawaiian tourists have come to 'possess' over the years—and now, in fear of the consequences, they are mailing them back to the islands in droves.

According to The Huffington Post, local post offices have been receiving packages with no return address, containing only rocks and other removed portions of the Hawaiian landscape. Alton Uyetake, the postmaster at the Hilo Post Office, recently opened one envelope coming from Ohio that contained only a bag of sand and shells and a note reading "Please return for the beach."

These mysterious parcels are believed to be linked to an ancient superstition, referred to by some as "Pele's Curse," which claims that anyone who absconds with one of the island's lava rocks will suffer severe consequences. Pele, the formidable Hawaiian goddess of volcanoes, is said to wreak havoc on any person who takes part of the local land with them.

Uyetake says he has received numerous of these packages throughout the years, including one that contained a Post-It note that read: "Tell Pele I'm so sorry!!" Though the postmaster and his colleagues have made an effort over the years to return the rocks to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, they say there is no guarantee that they'll be able to deliver them all back to their rightful home.

While the myth was likely established to ward against tourists taking pieces of the land with them, Uyetake says the letters that often come with the returned rocks prove that many truly believe in the curse. "After we read these letters and try to understand them, you realize that the bad luck is real for these [tourists.]... They're taking the time to send these packages because they believe they did something wrong."

For the unsuperstitious, removing rocks from the state's volcanoes is also against the law, according to Jessica Ferracane, a public information officer for Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Ferracane also notes that Pele's Curse has no basis in real Hawaiian folklore, saying, "There's no mention in any of the oral traditions that Pele would curse rocks, so it's just this unfortunate myth that has been perpetuated."

Whether you'd like to avoid a mysterious curse or a ticket, it's best to leave Hawaii's volcanic rocks right where you found them.