How Did the Aztec King Moctezuma II Mistake Conquistador Hernan Cortes For the Bearded God Quetzalcoatl?

The two gods, Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca, constantly battled to determine who would rule the universe. After one fight, Quetzalcoatl was driven from his capital city, Tenochtitlan, by Tezcatlipoca. According to Aztec myth, Quetzalcoatl would eventually return in triumph as a light-skinned, bearded god. In 1519, the Aztec king, Moctezuma II was shocked when a light-skinned, … Read more

How Was Tenochtitlan Founded and How Did the Aztecs Find the Eagle Perched On a Prickly Pear Cactus?

Long before the Aztec people founded their great empire, they lived in a community of many tribes in a place called Chicomortoc, also known as Seven Caves. But the people grew restless and tribes began to leave. The Aztecs were the last to go. One of their gods, Huitzilopochtli, which means Hummingbird of the South, … Read more

How Were the Sun and the Moon Created In Aztec Mythology and Why Did Tecuciztecatl Become the Moon?

Even after people and food were created, darkness still shrouded the world, and the gods discussed how they could provide light to the earth. One god, Tecuciztecatl, arrogantly volunteered to become the sun. The other gods elected Nanahuatzin, a humble god who was crippled with disease. Finally, the gods decided they would have a contest … Read more

How Were People Created In Aztec Mythology and Why Did Quetzalcoatl Journey To the Underworld?

In Aztec mythology, the gods decided to make people after the world was created. The other gods ordered Quetzalcoatl to journey to the underworld, Mictlan, and retrieve the bones of people who were turned into fish. But Mictlan was ruled by the crafty Mictlantecuhtli, who promised the bones to Quetzalcoatl, but only if he could … Read more

How Was the World Created In Aztec Mythology and Why Was the Aztec Ritual of Human Sacrifice Important?

An Aztec myth describes the earth goddess, Tlaltecuhtli, as a fierce beast with several gaping mouths full of teeth. Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca watched Tlaltecuhtli as she crossed the ocean, her hungry mouths searching for food. Repulsed by the disgusting monster, Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca decided to destroy her. Transforming themselves into giant serpents, they descended from … Read more

What Are the Names of The Aztec Gods Who Descended From the Supreme Creator God Ometecuhtli?

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. … Read more

What Are the Four Aztec Suns In Aztec Mythology and How Did Tezcatlipoca Create Dogs?

The Aztecs believed that four worlds or eras, called suns, existed before their own. In the first sun, powerful giants roamed the earth. But the two gods, Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca, quarreled and began fighting. Quetzalcoatl hit Tezcatlipoca with his staff, sending him tumbling into the ocean. Tezcatlipoca reemerged as a giant jaguar, and he began … Read more

How Did Gucumatz and the Heart of Heaven Try To Create Humans In Mayan Mythology?

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 … Read more

How Did Deer Get His Horns In Cherokee Mythology?

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 … Read more

What Does the Sun Dance In Native American Mythology Symbolize and When Was It Performed?

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, … Read more

Who Were the Mayans and What Did Spanish Explorers Discover When They Arrived In the 1500s?

The Mayans were a Native American people whose culture flourished in Central America and Mexico from A.D. 300 to 900. They developed a sophisticated society with complex cities, writing, and a precise calendar. From A.D. 900 to 1200, the Mayan culture mysteriously declined so that when Spanish explorers arrived in the 1500s, they discovered several … Read more

How Did North American Indians Tell Their Myths and How Did Native American Mythology Originate?

American Indians settled in North America more than 20,000 years ago, after crossing a land bridge from Asia to Alaska. They spread out across the continent and established societies of individual tribes. Each tribe developed its own mythology, with its own heroes, villains, tricksters, and stories about how they came into the world. Native American … Read more

How Was the Land On Earth Created In Cree Mythology and How Did Wisagatuck Capture a Beaver?

A crafty and cunning person, called Wisagatuck, planned to capture a beaver. He dammed a stream, causing water to flood around the beaver’s lodge. Wisagatuck hoped to surprise the beaver when it was forced to swim out of its home. After sitting for several hours, Wisagatuck finally spotted the beaver swimming toward him. He raised … Read more

How Did the Different Regions In North America Influence American Indian Myths?

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 … Read more

How Was the World Created In Iroquois Mythology?

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 … Read more

How Did Glooskap Meet His Match In Algonquin Mythology?

When the Indian warrior Glooskap walked through the world, all things bowed with respect. He had spent months fighting and defeating both animals and men in combat. Even the spirits dared not challenge his strength. When he had satisfied his quest for glory, Glooskap returned home. But his wife hardly noticed him when he strode … Read more

Who Was Queen Maeve In Irish Mythology and How Was the Ulster Warrior Cuchulainn Defeated?

Queen Maeve was the powerful warrior ruler of Connacht, a kingdom in Ireland. One night, she and her husband, Ailill, argued over who had finer possessions. They matched each other evenly except for one item, Ailill’s magnificent white-horned bull. Enraged at losing the argument, Maeve searched for an animal that would match Ailill’s. She learned … Read more

Who Won the Contest Between the Brown Bull of Ulster and the White Horned Bull In Irish Mythology?

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 … Read more

Who Were Tristan and Iseult In Arthurian Legend and What Did King Mark Do When He Discovered Their Affair?

Tristan and Iseult were two lovers in Arthurian legend whose tale ends in tragedy. Tristan went to Ireland to woo the beautiful Iseult on behalf of his friend and king, Mark of Cornwall. Tristan approached Iseult’s father, and he gave his blessing to the marriage. But Iseult was not enthusiastic about marrying King Mark. To … Read more

Who Was Uther Pendragon and Why Did Gorlois Send Ygraine To Tintagel Castle In the Arthurian Legend?

Uther Pendragon was ruler of England and the father of King Arthur. At Uther’s coronation ceremony, he fell in love with Ygraine, the wife of Gorlois, the Duke of Cornwall. His flirtation was so obvious that Gorlois left the coronation in a rage and prepared for war against Uther. Gorlois sent Ygraine to Tintagel, a … Read more

How Did Arthur Become King of England and Why Did Arthur Remove the Sword From the Stone?

London often hosted exciting pageants and festivals full of jousts and merriment. Arthur, only a small boy, went with his foster-father, Sir Ector, and foster-brother, Kay, to the tournaments. As Kay prepared to take part in a game, he discovered that his sword was missing. Angry, he sent Arthur back to their lodgings to retrieve … Read more

How Did the Sword In the Stone Help Decide Who the Next King of England Would Be In the Arthurian Legend?

After the death of King Uther, his knights argued among themselves over who should be the next king. Finally, the great wizard, Merlin, ordered the nobles and knights to gather in London. When they had all crowded into London’s main cathedral, Merlin revealed a mysterious stone with a sword embedded into it. Chiseled into the … Read more

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 … Read more

Who Was Sir Lancelot and How Did Mordred Expose Lancelot’s Affair With King Arthur’s Queen Guinevere?

Sir Lancelot was the most handsome, skilled, and bravest of the Knights of the Round Table. Serving faithfully by Arthur’s side, Lancelot protected his king from harm. But Lancelot had one deadly fault, he fell in love with Arthur’s queen, Guinevere. The two became lovers and despite their secrecy, Arthur’s other knights suspected treachery. To … Read more

How Did King Arthur Die In the Battle Against Mordred’s Army and What Happened To His Sword Excalibur?

With ranks formed and weapons drawn, King Arthur’s army and Mordred’s army tensely confronted each other across a large field. Before the battle, Arthur and Mordred came together for one last meeting. Neither leader trusted the other, so they ordered their knights to attack immediately if anyone pulled their sword. Surrounded by a small band … Read more

Who Was Ethlinn In Celtic Mythology, Where Did the Word Banshee Come From, and What Does Banshee Mean?

Ethlinn was Balor’s daughter in Celtic mythology. It was prophesied that Ethlinn’s son would grow up to kill Balor. To prevent this, Balor locked Ethlinn in a crystal tower on a remote island off Ireland’s northern coast. But a god from the Tuatha De Danann managed to sneak into the princess’s chamber, and she later … Read more

How Did Finn MacCool Grow Wise In Celtic Mythology and How Did Finn Receive the Tooth of Knowledge?

Finn MacCool was the greatest leader of the Fianna in Celtic mythology. As a young boy, Finn was taught by the druid Finegas. One day, Finegas caught the Salmon of Knowledge. Whoever ate the magical salmon would receive incredible knowledge and wisdom. Delighted with his catch, Finegas gave the salmon to Finn and ordered him … Read more

Who Were the Druids In Celtic Mythology and Why Did the Druids Conduct Spiritual Ceremonies In Oak Forests?

Druids were the political and spiritual leaders in Celtic society in what is now Britain, Ireland, and parts of France. As priests and teachers, they conducted the religious ceremonies of the Celtic tribes and studied magic. They revered the oak tree and mistletoe and often held their ceremonies in oak forests. As leaders, they exercised … Read more

Who Was Diarmuid Ua Diubhne In Celtic Mythology and What Powers Did the Goddess of Youth Give Diarmuid?

Diarmuid was a handsome warrior who fought with the Fianna in Celtic mythology. After spending a day hunting in woods, Diarmuid and three companions found shelter in a hut. A beautiful woman owned the hut and received them warmly. However, of the four men, she chose Diarmuid to share her bed. While the other warriors … Read more

How Did Cuchulainn Win His Bride Emer In Celtic Mythology and Why Did Forgall Object To the Marriage?

Cuchulainn fell in love with a woman named Emer. But her father, Forgall, objected to the match, claiming that Cuchulainn had not yet proven himself as a warrior. Forgall suggested that Cuchulainn make the difficult journey to the Land of Shadows to study combat with Scathach, a warrior princess. Cuchulainn left immediately. With Scathach, Cuchulainn … Read more

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 … Read more

Who Were the Celts, Where Did the Celts Come From, and When Did the Celts Sack Rome?

In Iron Age and Roman era Europe, the Celts, pronounced “Kelts”, were a band of tribes that dominated northwestern Europe, northern Spain, France, Great Britain, and Ireland. We call these tribes Celts because they spoke languages that stemmed from Celtic. However, these tribes only loosely shared a common culture, and they each developed their own … Read more

How Did Thor Retrieve His Lost Hammer From Thrym In Norse Mythology and Why Was Thor Disguised As Freyja?

One day, Thor was shocked to discover that his hammer was missing. Desperate, he asked Loki to find it. Loki turned himself into a falcon and soared above the earth, searching for clues to the hammer’s disappearance. Finally, Loki learned that a frost giant named Thrym had stolen the hammer and hidden it deep beneath … Read more

How Did Thor Defeat Geirrod In Norse Mythology and Why Did Loki Promise To Bring Thor To Gerriod?

The giant Geirrod was Thor’s fiercest enemy. One day, Geirrod captured Loki. In exchange for his life, the god promised to bring Thor to Gerriod’s hall, without his mighty hammer. Gerriod was thrilled with the idea of defeating Thor at last. Loki convinced Thor to go to Gerriod’s hall without his hammer. Along the way, … Read more

Who Was Sigurd In Norse Mythology and Why Did the Birds Tell Sigurd To Find a Valkyrie Named Brynhild?

Sigurd was the greatest hero of Norse mythology. Like many other ambitious men, Sigurd hoped to slay Fafnir and take his treasure. Accompanied by Fafnir’s brother, Regin, Sigurd searched for the dragon. Finally, they found the tracks it made as it traveled from its lair to drink at a river. Regin suggested to Sigurd that … Read more

Who Were the Valkyries In Norse Mythology and Which Warriors Saw the Valkyries Before Dying In Combat?

The Valkyries were female demigoddesses in Norse mythology who roamed over bloody battlefields in search of brave warriors. A demigod or demigoddess was stronger than a mortal but not as powerful as god. When they found a truly brave warrior, the Valkyries would take them to Odin, who welcomed him into paradise at Valhalla. The … Read more

Who Were the Berserkers In Norse Mythology and What Does the Expression “Went Berserk” Mean?

The Berserkers were warriors inspired to madness by Odin’s sorcery. They charged into battle without armor, heedless of pain or danger. Given extraordinary strength by their madness, they savagely attacked their opponents in the frenzy of combat. We still use the expression “They went berserk” to describe people who lose control in rage and anger. … Read more

How Did the Gods Try To Bring Balder Back To Life In Norse Mythology and Why Did Balder Remain In Hel?

In Norse mythology, Balder’s death plunged all of Asgard into grief. Haider, Odin’s son, agreed to ride down to Hel and bring Balder back to life. Riding Sleipnir, Odin’s eight-legged horse, Haider galloped swiftly down the dark road that led to the walls of Hel. Urged by Haider, Sleipner leaped over the walls and into … Read more

What Is the Norse Story of Creation and How Was the World Created According To Norse Mythology?

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 … Read more

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 … Read more

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 … Read more

How Did Odin Become the Wisest of the Gods In Norse Mythology and How Did Odin Gain the Wisdom of the Dead?

Odin loved the clash of arms in battle, but he also tirelessly sought wisdom and knowledge. While the other gods feasted and joked, Odin sat quietly on his throne, listening intently as his two ravens whispered the day’s events into his ear. After the ravens left, he spent his time sipping mead and pondering what … Read more

What Were Okuninushi’s Ordeals In Japanese Mythology and How Was Okuninushi’s Life Restored?

According to Japanese mythology, Okuninushi’s eighty brothers were furious when they heard of the white rabbit’s promise. They resolved to murder Okuninushi by rolling a heated boulder down a hill onto him. Okuninushi, believing it was a wild boar, leaped out to capture it. As he seized the boulder, the rock burned through his flesh … Read more

How Did the Rabbit Regain His Fur In Japanese Mythology and How Did the Rabbit Repay Okuninushi?

One day, a young man named Okuninushi and his eighty brothers all journeyed to a beautiful princess’s palace. Each brother hoped to win her love. Since Okuninushi was the youngest, he traveled at the back of the wagon train. The band came upon the hairless rabbit, lying beside the road in great pain. Okuninushi’s brothers … Read more