In the beginning, two worlds existed, separated by an empty void called Ginnungagap. The northern world, called Niflheim, was locked in snow and ice. The southern world, Muspell, blazed with red-hot sparks and fire. From Niflheim, twelve rivers of freezing water flowed into Ginnungagap and filled it with ice. Flames from Muspell melted some of […]
Who Was Perseus In Greek Mythology and Who Demanded That the Son of Zeus Bring the Head of a Gorgon?
Perseus was the son of Zeus and a mortal woman. As a young man, he attended a king’s banquet where the king requested a gift from each of his guests. Each of the other guests offered a horse. But Perseus, who was broke, could only offer his services. The king demanded that Perseus bring him […]
How Was Rome Founded According To Roman Mythology and Why Were Romulus and Remus Abandoned By Amulius?
Two great myths explain the founding of ancient Rome. The first myth explains how Aeneas founded the Roman civilization. Aeneas, the greatest of Roman heroes, originally fought the Greeks at the city of Troy. When the Greeks ravaged Troy, Aeneas was guided by his mother, the goddess Venus, and escaped with a small band of […]
Echo was a nymph in Greek mythology who delighted in conversation. One day, Hera suspected that Zeus had fallen in love with a nymph. She approached a group of nymphs, determined to discover which one was guilty of attracting Zeus. As she drew near, Echo suddenly spoke to the goddess, amusing her with her chatter […]
How Did the Chinese Creation Goddess Nu Gua Restore Humanity On Earth According To Chinese Mythology?
Saddened by the destruction of her people, Nu Gua gave birth to a ball of flesh. The gods sliced the ball into tiny pieces and carried them into heaven. There, a gust of wind scattered the pieces all over the world. As each piece landed on earth, a person sprang up, filling the world again […]
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, […]
The first animals cried out and complained to Yhi about their bodies. Kangaroo wanted stronger hind legs and a tail. Seal hated running through the forests, instead, he longed to swim in the sea Lizard was tired of scraping his belly on the ground and wanted legs. Yhi agreed to all their requests, but warned […]
The varied climates, landscapes, and wildlife of North America influenced the myths American Indians told. Indians in the Eastern part of North America lived in dense forests scattered with lakes and rivers. Many of their myths speak of forest demons, spirits, and monsters. The Eastern Indians also believed the idea of an upper and lower […]
Gucumatz and the Heart of Heaven now listened for praise and prayers from their new creations, but they were disappointed. The animals couldn’t speak the creators’ language. Instead, they squeaked, barked, chirped, roared, and hissed, creating such a racket that the creators understood nothing. Clearly, the animals could not worship the gods properly, so the […]
The Hindus believe that the universe creates and destroys itself in an endless cycle. In the beginning of the creation cycle, the god Brahma contains all things within himself. First, he creates the elements, water, fire, wind, sky, and earth. Upon the earth, Brahma brings forth rocks, mountains, and oceans. He organizes time and fashions […]
Today, the word aborigine usually denotes the original inhabitants of Australia. They arrived on that isolated continent by boat from southeast Asia more than 50,000 years ago. Through time, the Aborigines developed a complex and diverse culture made up of thousands of smaller groups, each with its own stories and myths. At the beginning of […]
What Is the Mesopotamian Myth of Creation and How Did the Universe Begin According To Mesopotamian Mythology?
The Mesopotamians believed that the universe began as water. The water was ruled over by the god, Apsu, and the goddess, Tiamat. Apsu and Tiamat had several children and grandchildren who often quarreled loudly among themselves, sometimes violently. Desperate for some peace, Apsu decided to destroy them all. The god Ea learned of the plan […]
In the beginning, the universe was a chaotic swirl of elements in the shape of an egg. Inside the egg shape, the elements formed two opposites: the Yin and Yang. The Yin (the female principle) and Yang (the male principle) gave birth to a god, Pan Gu. The egg ruptured and split open. The lighter […]
According to legend, the city of Rome was founded in 753 B.C. Through the next several centuries, the Romans expanded their power by conquering neighboring cities and territories. By the second century A.D., the Romans had created one of the greatest empires the world had ever seen, stretching from Egypt to the hills of Scotland. […]
How Did Celtic Mythology Survive the Roman Empire and How Were Their Stories Preserved By Christian Monks?
From 100 B.C. to A.D. 100, many of the Celtic tribes in Europe were conquered by Roman armies and became a part of the Roman Empire. Most of their myths are lost. However, other parts of the Celtic world, Ireland, Scotland, and parts of England, escaped Roman control. Their stories survived because Christian monks wrote […]
African myths often describe a small and weak character defeating a stronger opponent through cunning and trickery. This mythological figure is called “the trickster.” Tricksters are popular characters in many world mythologies, including Norse (Loki) and North American Indian (Coyote). African American folklore tells the antics of “Brer Rabbit,” a small rabbit who outsmarts larger […]
The son of Zeus and a mortal woman, Herakles, also known as Hercules, was the strongest man in ancient Greece. The goddess Hera, always jealous of Zeus’s love affairs, learned about the child and sent two giant snakes to kill him as he lay in his crib at night. When the snakes appeared, Herakies grasped […]
The Aztec gods and people descended from the great creator god, Ometecuhtli. Quetzalcoatl is the offspring of Ometecuhtli. He is represented as a serpent decorated with beautiful feathers. The Aztecs believed that Quetzalcoatl was a kind god who brought rain clouds and nurtured crops. Tezcatlipoca, the god of night and sorcery, brought chaos and destruction. […]
Zeus wanted some information from Prometheus. Prometheus could see into the future, and he knew which of Zeus’s sons would rise up and defeat him. But Prometheus refused to tell Zeus. In a fury, Zeus chained Prometheus to a mountain and sent a giant eagle to tear Prometheus’s liver from his body. Because he was […]
Zeus was furious when he saw men with fire and vowed revenge. This time, Zeus ordered Hephaistos to create a person who would use deceit and trickery to disrupt the society of men, a woman. Hephaistos mixed clay and water and carefully molded a female figure. When he was finished, the goddesses of Mount Olympus […]
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 […]
Marduk was a powerful prince who had four ears, four eyes, and breathed fire from his throat. He was also full of pride, and the other gods grew so angry at his boasts that they asked Tiamat to destroy him. Pleased by the chance to avenge Apsu’s death, Tiamat created an army of hideous monsters […]
The Titan Prometheus fashioned the first men out of clay and water. Prometheus allowed his brother Epimetheus to give qualities to animals and man. Dull and stupid, Epimetheus gave speed, strength, courage, and many other characteristics to the animals and left nothing to man. Prometheus was very upset, and he gave mankind one redeeming quality, […]
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 […]
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, […]
What Was Yggdrasill In Norse Mythology and What Are the Names of the Threes Norns That Guard Urd’s Well?
According to Norse mythology, at the center of the universe stood a mighty tree, called Yggdrasill. The branches of Yggdrasill stretched into the heavens and three giant roots supported its trunk from below. Entwined within Yggdrasill’s roots and branches stood nine separate worlds, each with its own race of beings. Beside one root lay Urd’s […]
After Amaterasu returned to the High Plains of Heaven, the other gods grew impatient with Susanoo’s mischief and banished him to earth. Bitter and angry, Susanoo left heaven and arrived on earth near a river. As he watched the flowing water, he noticed a pair of chopsticks drift by. Susanoo assumed that people were nearby, […]
When Sita was freed at last, Rama coldly ignored her because he suspected her virtue was tainted. In despair at the rejection, Sita built a funeral pyre and stepped into the roaring flames. The flames, however, did not harm her flesh or burn her clothes, proving her purity. At this sign of his wife’s virtue, […]
In the time before people, a young man emerged from the sea. He was created out of wind, water, and the warmth of sunlight. The man was joined by a woman, who was cre ated from a drop of dew that fell from a leaf. The man and woman had children, and the woman became […]
While Rama and Lakshman desperately searched for Sita, they met a monkey king. Weeping, the monkey king told them that his evil brother had wrongfully seized his throne. He promised to help Rama and Lakshman find Sita if they helped him recover his kingdom. Agreeing to the plan, Rama and Lakshman killed the evil brother. […]
Jason was a hero in ancient Greek mythology whose travels took him to the ends of the earth. When Jason was a young man, he agreed to carry an old woman across a river. The old woman was the goddess Hera in disguise, and Jason enjoyed Hera’s gratitude and protection for the rest of his […]
Who Were Geb and Nut In Ancient Egyptian Mythology and How Were the Gods of the Earth and Sky Separated?
Shu and Tefnut gave birth to two gods, Geb and Nut. Geb was a male god who represented the land of Egypt. Lying on his back, the folds of Geb’s body formed the mountains and valleys of the earth. Nut was a female sky goddess who stretched overhead in a large arc, forming the blue […]
Devastated by her husband’s death, Isis frantically began searching for his body. She learned from farmers and sailors that the chest had floated out to the Mediterranean Sea and had come ashore in present day Lebanon. There, a tree had grown around it, enfolding the chest within its roots and bark. A king had noticed […]
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 […]
The eight day Sun Dance was held every summer before the Plains Indians began buffalo hunting. Most tribes of the plains held their own ceremonies, including the Lakotas, Cheyennes, Blackfeet, Shoshones, and Arapahos. In the Sun Dance, an individual made pledges. For example, if an illness was cured or an injury repaired during the year, […]
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 […]