Mythology & Mystery

English Folklore: The Forgotten Death of Mischief Night

In the United Kingdom, nestling midway between the early autumn “Back to School” sales promotions and the consumer spending bonanza that is Christmas, we now have the retail opportunity of Halloween. Fancy dress costumes, pumpkins, plastic skeletons, scary witches’ masks and plenty of sweets to dish out to Trick-or-Treaters.

Each year, Halloween’s approach is also greeted with complaints in the popular press about the “Americanization” of English customs and how Halloween has displaced our traditional mid-autumn Fifth of November / Bonfire Night / Guy Fawkes Night celebrations....Read more

Creation Stories of Africa: The Children of Kings

Africa is a vast continent full of contrasts, and as one would expect, has many and varied stories of creation. Most countries in Africa are made up of different tribes of people, rather than one specific race, so it makes more sense to look at regional stories as opposed to mythologies based on individual nations.

 

The Children of Oduduwa, West Africa

The Yoruba people from West Africa call themselves the Children of Oduduwa. Oduduwa is held to be the first of all the kings, who came from the east and ruled over ancient Ife, where, with Obatala, he began the creation of the world. Obatala created the first humans out of clay, while Oduduwa became the first divine king of the Yoruba. He sent his sons and daughters out with crowns to rule over all of the other Yoruba kingdoms and all the Yoruba royal families claim descent through them back to Oduduwa...Read more

The Strange Origin of the Kappa: Japanese Water Imp

Many supernatural creatures are depicted in Japanese art and literature.  Some seem realistic and might actually exist, since there have been witness sightings, while others are clearly composite creatures.  Still others might have been created by storytellers to explain seemingly inexplicable phenomena.  Such creatures include yuki-onna (snow women), who lure young men out of their beds at night and into the mountains where they freeze to death, and kitsune (foxes) which are thought to be shape shifters, often assuming the form of beautiful young women.  Even today in northern Japan, some...Read more

The Sacred Three in Asian Beliefs: Triple Gods, Tridevi, and the Three Treasures

Number three has been considered sacred for over many centuries throughout the world. Its depictions of the triads, triplicates and trinities have also existed in many cultures with various interpretations.

The possible oldest interpretation of the number three is that it represents completion, and many cultures today still interpret it as such—that is, something which has gone through its beginning, middle, and its end. The number three could then be interpreted as the number of reproduction or the continuation of things. From the union of oneness (1) and duality (2) comes the...Read more

The Origins of Evil: The Story of Human Spirituality and Belief Systems

Evil is as old as humanity. We live in a world of duality. Darkness and light. Good and evil. Up and down. In and out. Heaven and Hell. But which came first—or did these dual concepts evolve side by side as our primitive understanding of the world around us became more sophisticated over time?

The concept of evil has changed over time to mirror our own evolving behavior as human beings...Read more

William of Newburgh: Medieval Vampire Hunter?

“It would not be easy to believe that the corpses of the dead should sally from their graves, and should wander about to the terror or destruction of the living, did not frequent examples, occurring in our own times, suffice to establish this as a warning to posterity, to the truth of which there is abundant testimony.”

 -William of Newburgh, writing in the 12th century.

Derived from the Latin reveniens meaning ‘returning’ or ‘to come back,’ the word revenant is used in a supernatural context to refer...Read more

The Fierce Mythical Unicorn Travelled the World and Through Cultures, Killing and Healing

Legend speaks of a powerful creature, a wild beast that is both an unpredictable, deadly foe and a gentle and innocent spirit. The unicorn, a creature with a single, spiraling horn centered on its forehead has become one of the most popular and enduring of mythological creatures. Like dragons, they are unique legendary figures with an image that is instantly recognizable all over the globe, with tales reaching back through ancient epochs.

Stemming from text mistranslations and misunderstood travelers’ tales, stories of the elusive creatures cemented their place in ancient record...Read more

The Legends of the Panchakanya - The Five Virgins of Ancient India

The Panchakanya (the five virgins) are female characters in the two great epics of India, Ramayana and Mahabharata. Each of them is described as extraordinarily beautiful and virtuous. The literal meaning of 'kanya' means ‘girl’, ‘maiden’ or 'virgin'. Although the five women are all married, sometimes with multiple men, this was the word chosen to depict them instead of the word nari (woman) or sati (chaste wife), which was then questioned by scholars. However, the word was chosen because tradition says that the purity of their characters are so strong,...Read more

The Truth behind Christian Miraculous Preservation: How Mummies Become Incorruptible Saints

The Roman Catholic Church has given the title “saint” to thousands of real and legendary people, and even to some non-human entities, such as St. Michael the Archangel.  The most comprehensive listing of saints is the Bibliotheca Sanctorum, which has eighteen volumes and lists more than 10,000 saints.  However, there are many more than this in the Roman Catholic tradition; most of their names are now lost.  And although the term initially referenced all baptized believers (hagioi in Greek), in modern times sainthood is an elaborate and expensive process, sometimes costing...Read more

Perseus and the Legendary Rescue of Andromeda: Slaying of a Dangerous Sea Monster

It is an epic tale that would stand the test of time and would later be immortalized by Hollywood. Among its mythology there is one specific episode that has stood out from the rest; that is, Perseus’ confrontation with the legendary beast threatening his future wife, Andromeda, and the kingdom of Ethiopia.

Ethiopia was ruled by king Cepheus and his wife Cassiopeia.

[Cassiopeia] vied with the Nereids in beauty and boasted to be better than them all; hence the Nereids were angry, and Poseidon, sharing their wrath, sent a flood and a monster to invade the land....Read more