Which Goddess Did the Japanese Imperial Family Descend From and Who Was the First Emperor of Japan?

Until Japan’s defeat in World War II, the Japanese emperor was worshipped as a god. The imperial family claimed its right to rule Japan because they were descended from Amaterasu, the sun goddess. The legendary first emperor of Japan was Jimmu-tenno, who conquered and united parts of Japan with the help of the gods some … Read more

What Advice Did Susano Give Okuninushi In Japanese Mythology and Who Was Suseri Hime?

When Okuninushi arrived in Susano’s palace, he immediately fell in love with Susano’s daughter, Suseri Hime. After only a few days, Okuninushi convinced her to marry him, and together they told the news to Susano. Susano was outraged at how quickly the two lovers had reached their decision. Instead of displaying his anger, however, Susano … Read more

What Do the Shinto Japanese Believe Happens To the Sinful After Death and Who Decides Where Souls Are Sent?

According to Japanese Shinto mythology, after death, evil people descend to Jigoku, a world with eight realms of fire and eight realms of ice. Each soul stands before a mirror that reflects back its sins. The god, Emma-ho, rules Jigoku and decides where each male soul is sent according to the severity of his crimes. … Read more

What Is The Dreamtime In Australian Aboriginal Mythology and How Were the First Humans Created?

The Aborigines call the period of creation The Dreamtime. During The Dreamtime, the spirit ancestors of the Aborigines woke from their sleep and wandered through the world, creating as they traveled. They discovered bundles of animals and plants lying scattered on the ground. The ancestors carved arms, legs, and faces in the materials from the … Read more

Who Are the Aborigines Of Australia and Where Did the Aborigines Of Australia Come From?

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 … Read more

What Was the Rainbow Serpent In Australian Aboriginal Mythology and Where Does the Rainbow Serpent Live?

The Rainbow Serpent is a powerful figure in Aboriginal mythology, and each Aboriginal tribe has its own myths about it. The Aborigines believed that the rainbow serpent dwelled in rivers, pools, and lakes. When the rainbow serpent became angry, it left its watery home and caused storms in the sky. When its anger waned, the … Read more

Where Did Norse Mythology Come From and How Did Viking Myths From Germany and Scandinavia Originate?

Norse mythology was created in northern Europe, in the dense forests of Germany and the harsh, frozen landscapes of Scandinavia. The Norse myths that we remember today were told mostly during the Viking era, 750-1050 A.D., when Vikings sailed their ships to loot and plunder the towns of neighboring lands. The creators of Norse myths … Read more

How Did Crow’s Feathers Become Black In Australian Aboriginal Mythology and Why Was Eagle Suspicious of Crow?

During The Dreamtime, Crow’s feathers were white. One morning, Crow told his best friend Eagle to go hunting in the hills for kangaroo. Crow said that he would search along the lake for ducks. The two friends promised to share whatever they had caught with the other when they returned from the hunt. Eagle spent … Read more

How Were Myths Used To Explain Natural Disasters In Ancient Mythology and How Were They Described In Myths?

Every society on earth has suffered from a natural disaster, floods, fires, volcanoes, tidal waves, drought. People told myths to explain why these disasters occurred. In Chinese, Greek, American Indian, and Babylonian mythologies, a massive flood almost destroys mankind. In Japan, a myth describes how the sun stopped shining, which may have been inspired by … Read more

How Was the Silkworm Created In Chinese Mythology and What Did the Horse Do To Transform a Woman?

Once, long ago, a man left his house to conduct business. His daughter missed him terribly. While grooming a stallion, she whispered to herself that she would marry anyone who brought her father home. Instantly, the stallion bolted off. Several miles away, the man was surprised when the stallion galloped up and begged him to … Read more

How Was the Earth Created In Japanese Mythology and What Is the Japanese Myth of Creation?

According to Japanese mythology, the world began as a formless mass that drifted aimlessly like a jellyfish in water. Out of this mass, a slender reed arose. This was Kuntiokotachi, the first god. Two more gods joined him, and together they created seven generations of gods and goddesses, ending with the male Izanagi and female … Read more

Why Did Amaterasu and Susano Quarrel Over Control of Their Realms In Japanese Mythology?

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 … Read more

How Did the Gods Get Amaterasu Out of Her Cave In Japanese Mythology and How Was Sunshine Restored?

With Amaterasu hiding in her cave, disaster struck the earth. Rice fields lay untended and trees withered. Facing destruction, the other gods met together to determine how to coax Amaterasu from the cave. They thought up a complicated plan. First, they hung a magical mirror in a tree just outside the cave entrance. Next, the … Read more

What Is the Difference Between Taoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism and How Have They Influenced Eastern Asia?

Taoism originated in China in the third century B.C. Taoism taught that individuals should seek to understand the basic structure of the universe, called the Tao, instead of worrying about what society dictated. Taoism urged people to return to the simplicity of farm life and seek to live in harmony with nature, not to dominate … Read more

Who Was Indra In Indian Mythology and How Did Indra Defeat Vritra the Dragon Created By Tvashtri?

The leader of the ancient Vedic gods, Indra rode across the sky in a golden chariot and threw thunderbolts with deadly accuracy. A priest, Tvashtri, hated Indra, and he created a three headed son to seize Indra’s throne. When Tvashtri’s son challenged Indra, Indra killed him with a thunderbolt and cut off his three heads. … Read more

How Was the Universe Created According To Hindu Mythology and How Did Brahma Create the Universe?

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 … Read more

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 … Read more

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, … Read more

How Did the Olympic Games Originate According To Greek Mythology and How Did Pelops Honor King Oenomaus?

A king named Oenomaus had a beautiful daughter, Hippodamia, who attracted the attention of many suitors. But the king jealously guarded his daughter, and he challenged each suitor to a chariot race. If the suitor won, Hippodamia would become his wife. If he lost, the young man sacrificed his life. Oenomaus, however, had a special … Read more

How Did the Trojan War Begin According To Greek Mythology and Which Goddess Received the Golden Apple?

The Trojan War began when the goddess of discord, Eris, was not invited to a wedding. Furious at being snubbed, she cast a golden apple among the wedding guests that bore the words “To the Fairest.” The goddesses Aphrodite, Hera, and Athena all wished to have the apple for themselves. Zeus, wanting to avoid this … Read more

What Happened To King Menelaus and Odysseus After the Trojan War According To Greek Mythology?

For the Greeks, the Trojan War was a hollow victory. The gods grew angry with the Greeks for destroying holy temples while sacking Troy. Few of the Greek warriors survived the journey home, and those who did found their kingdoms changed and overrun with revolt, treachery, and general disorder. King Menelaus forgave Helen and took … Read more

Who Was Pygmalion In Greek Mythology and How Did Pygmalion Fall In Love With a Statue He Carved?

In Greek mythology, Pygmalion was a young and handsome sculptor who despised women. One day, Pygmalion began carving a beautiful woman from a block of stone. He labored for days on the statue, delicately chipping away stone and brushing away dust. The statue appeared so lovely that no woman alive could rival its beauty. Pygmalion … Read more

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 … Read more

How Did Psyche Recover Cupid’s Love According To Greek Mythology and What Tasks Did Venus Give Psyche?

Shattered by her loss, Psyche was determined to recover her husband’s love. After prayer, she realized that she would have to humbly serve Venus, the goddess who had hated her so passionately. First, Venus taunted Psyche and ordered her to complete an impossible task. Venus piled together millions of various types of tiny seeds and … Read more

Who Were Daedalus and Icarus In Greek Mythology and Why Did Icarus Fall Into the Sea?

A brilliant craftsman and designer, Daedalus designed the intricate Labyrinth that held the Minotaur. After Theseus killed the Minotaur, King Minos imprisoned Daedalus and his son, Icarus, because he suspected that Daedalus had revealed the secret of the Labyrinth to Ariadne. To escape, Daedalus fashioned two sets of wings out of wax and feathers. Just … Read more

Who Was King Midas In Greek Mythology and How Did King Midas’ Touch Turn Everything To Gold?

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, … Read more

Who Was Sisyphus In Ancient Greek Mythology and Why Was Sisyphus Forced To Roll a Large Rock Up a Hill?

Sisyphus was a brilliant and clever king in Greek mythology whose deceptive ways fooled the gods themselves. When Sisyphus angered Zeus, Zeus sent the spirit of death, Thanatos, to bring Sisyphus to the underworld. But Sisyphus had no intention of dying, and he used his trickery to bind Thanatos in chains. Without Thanatos, dead souls … Read more

Who Was Niobe In Greek Mythology and Why Were Niobe’s Seven Sons and Seven Daughters Struck Down?

Niobe was Tantalus’s daughter, and she suffered a punishment even more terrible than her father’s. Married to a son of Zeus, Niobe enjoyed wealth and power as queen of the city of Thebes. More than her wealth, she cherished her seven daughters and seven sons, all of them handsome and blessed with intelligence. But because … Read more

Who Were the Heroes In Ancient Mythology and How Were Heroes Used As Characters In Myths?

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.

How Did the Gods Create Men According to Ancient Greek Mythology and What Were Men Made Out of?

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, … Read more