When people and animals first lived on the earth, they greeted each other and spoke together often. But when people began to kill animals for food, the animals grew angry. The bears gathered together to discuss the problem. Many of them wanted to make war on humans. Others disagreed, arguing that people had sharp knives […]
What Are the Names of the Irish Celtic Gods and How Many Different Gods Are There In Celtic Mythology?
The Irish Celts had many different gods and goddesses. Here are some of the most prominent. Dagda, which means “the good god,” was father of the Tuatha De Danann. Dagda carried a magical club so large that he hauled it behind him on two wheels. If he struck anything with one side of his club, […]
King Midas was ruler of Phrygia, a land covered with roses. One day, King Midas’s servants discovered the satyr Silenus, a creature that was half man, half goat, in a drunken slumber in the king’s favorite flower bed. Instead of punishing Silenus, Midas entertained him with food and wine for ten days. The god Dionysus, […]
On a road outside the city of Thebes, the Sphinx sat on a rock and watched for travelers, who she challenged with this riddle. “What has four legs in the morning, two legs at midday, and three legs in the evening?” The correct answer is: a person. A person crawls on all fours as a […]
With Cuchulainn dead, Maeve’s army seized the Brown Bull and sent it back to Connacht. When the White Horned Bull saw the Brown Bull entering his territory, he charged. The two bulls slammed together and locked horns. For hours, their immense bodies twisted, strained, and lurched all over the island of Ireland. As the next […]
How Did Ravana Capture Sita In Hindu Mythology and Why Did Ravana Turn a Raksha Into a Beautiful Deer?
Rama, Sita, and Rama’s brother, Lakshman, wandered into the jungle, which was filled with treacherous magicians called Rakshas. A Raksha woman fell in love with Rama, but Rama rejected her advances, and the woman attacked Sita in rage. Lakshman knocked the woman to the ground and cut off her nose. Howling with pain and humiliation, […]
A man named Widjingara was the first person to die according to Australian Aboriginal mythology. After he was killed in a fight, his wife, the Black Headed Python, wrapped his body in bark and put him on a burial platform. She mourned the loss of her husband bitterly, and she shaved off her hair and […]
Originally, Deer had a smooth head with no horns. One day, the animals decided to have a contest between Rabbit and Deer to determine who was the fastest. They would race through a dense thicket and back again, and the victor would win a magnificent pair of antlers. On the day of the race, Rabbit […]
Heroes thrill us with their daring, strength, and courage. They also teach and inspire us to accomplish what others consider impossible. Cultures around the world tell of the exploits of heroes. The Greeks shared stories of Herakles, Theseus, and Jason. The Babylonians idolized Gilgamesh. In India, the hero Rama battled and defeated forces of evil.
Rama was one of the most famous avatars of Vishnu in Hindu mythology. His story is told in the massive Indian epic Ramayana. The son of a king, Rama grew into a handsome and powerful young warrior. He proved his strength in the foreign court of King Janaka. The king owned a bow once used […]
In Chinese mythology, the Chinese goddess Nu Gua created the first people. After the creation of the world, the goddess Nu Gua lived on earth, lonely and sad. One day, after glimpsing her reflection in a pool, she had an idea. She scooped up a handful of yellow mud and molded a copy of herself. […]
A young woman named Arachne became known throughout Greece for her skillful weaving and embroidering of cloth. As she sat at her loom, she bragged that she had taught herself and owed her talent to no one, not even Athena, goddess of spinners and embroiderers. Suddenly, an old woman appeared at the door and urged […]
What Were the Names of the Norse Gods In Norse Mythology and What Were the Unique Traits of the Norse Gods?
A Norse tapesty, woven in the 1100s, depicts three important Norse gods. Odin, missing an eye, stands on the left and carries an axe. Thor stands next to him, holding his mighty hammer. Frey, god of the harvest and fertility, stands on the right and holds an ear of corn. Odin ruled a race of […]
While walking together on a beach, Odin, Vili, and Ve discovered two logs washed in from the sea. They picked them up and from them fashioned the first man and woman, Ask and Embla. Each god gave gifts to the humans. Odin gave them life; Vili gave them understanding and the ability to move; and […]
Izanagi assigned each of the three gods to a different realm. Tsuki Yomi controlled the night, Amaterasu, the sun goddess, ruled the High Plains of Heaven, and Susano watched over the ocean. This arrangement satisfied everyone but Susano, who pouted angrily. Amaterasu suspected that Susano would challenge her rule in heaven. Preparing for battle, she […]
The Fir Bolg were a legendary race of people who lived in Ireland. Originally, they labored as slaves in a land near Greece. The Fir Bolg hauled bags of earth over their shoulders to cover rocky areas and make it suitable for farming, hence their name, which means “bag men”. After years of abuse, the […]
Who Was the Kindest God In Hindu Mythology and How Did Bhrigu Decide That Vishnu Was the Supreme God?
Bhrigu, an Indian wise man, wondered which god, Brahma, Shiva, or Vishnu, was greatest. To find out, he visited Brahma and did not pay proper respect. Brahma bristled with anger but accepted Bhrigu’s apologies. Next, Bhrigu visited Shiva and snubbed him. Shiva rose up in rage and prepared to destroy Bhrigu. He only calmed down […]
Who Were the Fomorians In Irish Celtic Mythology and How Many Men Did It Take To Open Balor’s Evil Eye?
After driving out the Firbolg, the Tuatha De Danann faced a new enemy, the Fomorians. The Fomorians were an evil race of giants that lived both on Ireland and in the sea around it. The Fomorians were led by Balor, who had only one eyeball. His gaze was so deadly, he only opened his eye […]
Geb and Nut were separated, but Nut was pregnant with Geb’s children. Ra, angry that Geb and Nut had married in the first place, now noticed Nut’s pregnancy and proclaimed that Nut could not give birth during any month of the year. To help Nut, Thoth, the god of learning, convinced the moon to add […]
The Hindu gods replaced the Vedic gods in India. Today, Hinduism is one of the most prominent religions in the world, with more than 700 million followers. The three great gods of Hinduism, Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva, are called the Trimurti. Brahma is the personified form of Brahman as a male god. Brahman can be […]
The Aztecs created a magnificent empire that covered most of Mexico from the 1300s to 1521. They constructed their capital city, Tenochtitlan, upon land reclaimed from a lake and marshes. Among its many buildings were spectacular pyramids. When Tenochtitlan was conquered by the Spanish in 1521, it may have been the largest city in the […]
As the protector of the world in Hindu mythology, Vishnu has appeared nine times, so far, to save humankind from evil and disaster. These appearances on earth in human form are called avatars. Vishnu first appeared as the fish Matsya to rescue the first man, Manu. Matsya warned Manu that a giant flood would cover […]
How Did the Gods Get Their Treasures In Norse Mythology and Why Did the Dwarves Sew Loki’s Lips Together?
Loki’s tricks could be amusing, but other times they almost led to his, or someone else’s, destruction. One day, Loki cut off the shimmering golden hair of Sif, Thor’s wife. When Thor saw his bald wife, he angrily caught Loki and raised his hammer threateningly. Loki pleaded for his life and promised Thor that he […]
Like Sisyphus, Tantalus drew the wrath of the gods and was punished with perpetual torment. A mortal son of Zeus, Tantalus dined regularly with the gods on Mount Olympus. One day, Tantalus invited the gods to a feast of his own. To test their omniscience, Tantalus decided to kill his own son, Pelops and make […]
Just before she is swallowed, the sun will give birth to a daughter, who will light the sky as a new sun. Under her warmth, a new world is destined to flourish. One man and one woman will escape the disaster, and together will repopulate the earth. The children of the gods will survive and […]
A long time ago, a race of gods and spirits lived beneath a giant tree. Clusters of lush fruit and fragrant blossoms hung in the tree’s branches. In the shade beneath the tree, the gods gathered for discussions. During one meeting, the Great Ruler told the gods that a dark and watery world full of […]
According to Chinese mythology, an old man called Yu lived in the shadow of two enormous mountains. Everyday, Yu had to detour around the mountains in order to walk to the village. Finally, at the age of eighty, he grew so weary with the trip that he decided to move the mountains out of the […]
One night, Balder’s sleep was disturbed by horrible dreams that predicted his death. The next morning, the other gods heard about Balder’s dreams and feared for his safety. To protect Balder, Frigga traveled through the world and demanded that everything vow never to harm Balder. Soon, all things, stones and trees, metal and animals, took […]
Ruled by Ra, all Egyptian people prospered. But when Ra grew old and feeble, evil men plotted his downfall. Ra learned of their plans, and he called the other gods together for advice. The gods told him that humankind deserved to be destroyed. Heeding their words, Ra ordered the goddess Sakhmat to carry out his […]
The Adventures of Odysseus The story of Odysseus was told by the ancient poet, Homer. His epic poem The Odyssey is one of the most important literary works in history. At the end of the Trojan War, Odysseus and his crew sailed from Troy with the rest of the Greek fleet. According to the story, […]
What Was Excalibur and How Did King Arthur Find the Magical Sword Excalibur In the Arthurian Legend?
Although Arthur had proved himself king, many knights and barons refused to respect his rule. Arthur had to lead his army through several battles to crush his enemies and establish his power. With Merlin’s aid, Arthur built a capital city at Camelot where he brought together the Knights of the Round Table. Only the bravest […]
The primary religion in Japan is called Shinto, and the Shinto religion’s gods and spirits are the main characters in Japanese mythology. We know most of these stories because in A.D. 711, a Japanese empress ordered her servant, Ono Yasumoro, to write these tales in a collection called the Kojiki, or Record of Ancient Matters. […]
Compared to the mythology created by the rich imagination of the Greeks, the Roman myths can appear dull. The Romans themselves recognized this. After conquering Greece in 133 B.C., the Romans adopted many of the Greek gods and their stories and changed the Greek names into Roman ones. For example, Poseidon, the Greek god of […]
What Did the Ancient Egyptians Believe Happened To Common People In the Afterlife and Field of Reeds?
When an Egyptian who was not a member of the royal family died, his soul had to travel through a series of rigorous tests to arrive in paradise, called the Field of Reeds. The climax of the journey occurred when the soul was brought before Osiris, the supreme judge of the afterlife. While Osiris watched […]
Enraged at his wife’s death, Izanagi cut off Kagusutchi’s head. Still, this act did little to ease his grief. Desperate, Izanagi went searching for Izanami in Yomi, the world of darkness where spirits dwell. Izanami appeared at the entrance to Yomi and called to Izanagi. He begged her to return with him. From the shadows, […]
As the sun, Nanahuatzin became Tonatiuh. Proud of his new power, Tonatiuh hung in the sky and refused to move unless the gods provided sacrifice with their own blood. The Lord of the Dawn, angered by Tonatiuh’s demand, threw a dart at him. But the dart sailed wide, and the sun fired back, hitting the […]