Tag Archives: myths

Mythical Beings {13} ~ Kelpie

A kelpie, or water kelpie, is a shape-shifting spirit inhabiting lakes in Scottish folklore. It is a Celtic legend; however, analogues exist in other cultures. It is usually described as a black horse-like creature, able to adopt human form. Some accounts state that the kelpie retains its hooves when appearing as a human, leading to its association with the Christian idea of Satan as alluded to by Robert Burns in his 1786 poem “Address to the Devil”.

Almost every sizeable body of water in Scotland has an associated kelpie story, but the most extensively reported is that of Loch Ness. Parallels to the general Germanic Nixe or nixie and the Scandinavian bäckahäst have been observed. More widely, the wihwin of Central America and the Australian bunyip have been seen as counterparts. The origins of narratives about the creature are unclear but the practical purpose of keeping children away from dangerous stretches of water and warning young women to be wary of handsome strangers has been noted in secondary literature.

Kelpies have been portrayed in their various forms in art and literature, including two 30-metre-high (100 ft) steel sculptures in Falkirk, The Kelpies, completed in October 2013.

Mythical Beings {6} ~ Pegasus

Pegasus (Greek: Πήγασος, Pḗgasos; Latin: Pegasus, Pegasos) is a mythical winged divine horse, and one of the most recognized creatures in Greek mythology. Usually he is depicted as pure white. Myths about him vary as the Greek myths evolve and reflect progression through successive generations of deities.

In Archaic Greek mythology, Pegasus is the offspring of the Gorgon Medusa,[1] when she was depicted as a mare. In later myths, Pegasus was foaled by Medusa as she was dying, while being decapitated by the hero Perseus.

In Classical Greek mythology, the Olympian god Poseidon is identified as the father of Pegasus. Pegasus is the brother of Chrysaor and the uncle of Geryon. Pegasus was caught by the Greek hero Bellerophon near the fountain Peirene with the help of Athena and Poseidon. Pegasus allowed Bellerophon to ride him in order to defeat the monstrous Chimera, which led to many other exploits. Bellerophon later fell from the winged horse’s back while trying to reach Mount Olympus, where the deities resided. After that failed attempt, Zeus transformed Pegasus into the eponymous constellation.

~Cosmogony~

Cosmogony [Gr. Kosmogonia from Kosmos the world and root of gignesthai to be born] is the coming into existence, the creation and origination of the universe. It is also the study of these aspects. So a cosmogony describes how the Universe came to be; hence, the creation myth in the Book of Genesis is one such cosmogony, and there are many others, both scientific and mythological. This contrasts with cosmology, which studies the Universe at large, throughout its existence.

Myths {1} ~ Carrots Don’t Help You See In The Dark

The idea that carrots will help you see in the dark is due to a myth begun by the Air Ministry in World War II. To prevent the Germans finding out that Britain was using radar to intercept bombers on night raids, they issued press releases stating that British pilots were eating lots of carrots to give them exceptional night vision. This fooled the British public, as well as German High Command and an old wive’s tale was born.

Mythology {3} ~ Gods & Goddesses {7} ~ The Mayan

The ancient Maya had over 150 Gods in their complex religion, each with clearly defined characteristics and purposes.

1. Itzamn (or Zamn )
Itzamn, the lord of the heavens as well as night and day; could be called upon in hard times or calamities.

2. Chac
Although second in power, Chac was first in importance as the god of rain, and by association, the weather and fertility.

3. Ah Mun
Ah Mun was the corn god and the god of agriculture. He was always represented as a youth, often with a corn ear headdress.

4. Ah Puch
The god of death, ruled over the ninth and lowest of the Maya underworlds. He was always malevolent.

5. Ek Chuah
Ek was the god of war, human sacrifice, and violent death. Not the kind of god you’d want to meet in person.

In addition to these, there were patron gods, 13 of the upper world and nine of the lower, plus numerous calendar gods who posed for glyphs. Other deities, such as Kukulcan and Chac Mool, came into the line-up as the society changed in Post Classic times. The religious hierarchy became so bewildering that it was beyond the comprehension of the average Maya, who relied on priests to interpret the religion (so what’s new?). To the common man, who lives or dies by the cycle of rain and drought, Chac remains the god most frequently involved in daily life.

Source: https://www.tulum.com/information/mayan-history/

Mythology {3} ~ Gods & Goddesses {1} ~ Japanese

Major Deities
Amaterasu
Amaterasu is the sun goddess of Japan, the central goddess of Shinto, and the center of Japanese spiritual life. As the mythical ancestor of the Japanese Imperial Family, she forms the basis of their right to rule.

Izanagi
Izanagi is one of the first gods of Shinto’s cosmology. Together with Izanami, his female counterpart, he created the islands of Japan and populated them with many kami. Though he suffered a great tragedy, he went on to rule the Heavens and later help his daughter Amaterasu ascend to the divine throne.

Susanoo
Susanoo is the Japanese god of the sea and storms. A chaotic, stubborn, and foolhardy soul, he is also brother of Amaterasu, the Rising Sun and Queen of the Heavens. His quarrels with his sister eventually put him in conflict with Orochi, the eight-headed dragon.

Tsukuyomi
Tsukuyomi is the Japanese moon god, a proud deity who represents the beauty and power of the moon. He committed an egregious crime in front of his wife Amaterasu, and was forbidden from ever seeing her again.

Inari
Inari is the kami of prosperity, rice, smithing, cunning, and craftsmanship. Portrayed variously as male, female, and androgynous, Inari is a complex and popular deity worshiped for more than a thousand years throughout Japan. Their prominence has led to the creation of a special type of shrine, focused primarily on smithing and rice cultivation as well as the preservation of foxes.

Raijin
Raijin is the Japanese god of storms, a spirit of destruction and chaos who throws lightning and powerful thunderbolts while riding atop dark clouds. He is always accompanied by his companion gods, Fujin and Raitaro.

Fujin
Fujin is a Japanese god of the wind, a demon born of the underworld who is a destructive force of nature, controlling all the winds of the world. He appears alongside his brother, the thunder demon Raijin.

Ame-no-Uzume
Ame-no-Uzume is the Shinto goddess of dawn, an inventor of dances and comedy, whose positive self-image and quick thinking helped bring the sun goddess Amaterasu back to the world.

Ebisu
The Japanese god of luck and prosperity, Ebisu is a manifestation of the abundance of the sea. He is always shown with a smile and a laugh. Though he was rejected at birth, Ebisu would go on to become a benevolent, kind kami and one of the Seven Lucky Gods.

Ninigi
Ninigi introduced rice and civilization to Japan, then founded the Japanese Imperial family. He is the grandson of Great Amaterasu, the goddess of the heavens and the sun.

Source: https://mythopedia.com/japanese-mythology/gods/

Mythology {2} ~ Creation Stories {11} ~ The Norse

Muspell
The first world to exist was Muspell, a place of light and heat whose flames are so hot that those who are not native to that land cannot endure it.
Surt sits at Muspell’s border, guarding the land with a flaming sword. At the end of the world he will vanquish all the gods and burn the whole world with fire.

Ginnungagap and Niflheim
Beyond Muspell lay the great and yawning void named Ginnungagap, and beyond Ginnungagap lay the dark, cold realm of Niflheim.
Ice, frost, wind, rain and heavy cold emanated from Niflheim, meeting in Ginnungagap the soft air, heat, light, and soft air from Muspell.

Ymir
Where heat and cold met appeared thawing drops, and this running fluid grew into a giant frost ogre named Ymir.
Frost ogres
Ymir slept, falling into a sweat. Under his left arm there grew a man and a woman. And one of his legs begot a son with the other. This was the beginning of the frost ogres.
Audhumla
Thawing frost then became a cow called Audhumla. Four rivers of milk ran from her teats, and she fed Ymir.
Buri, Bor, and Bestla
The cow licked salty ice blocks. After one day of licking, she freed a man’s hair from the ice. After two days, his head appeared. On the third day the whole man was there. His name was Buri, and he was tall, strong, and handsome.
Buri begot a son named Bor, and Bor married Bestla, the daughter of a giant.

Odin, Vili, and Vé
Bor and Bestla had three sons: Odin was the first, Vili the second, and Vé the third.
It is believed that Odin, in association with his brothers, is the ruler of heaven and earth. He is the greatest and most famous of all men.

The death of Ymir
Odin, Vili, and Vé killed the giant Ymir.
When Ymir fell, there issued from his wounds such a flood of blood, that all the frost ogres were drowned, except for the giant Bergelmir who escaped with his wife by climbing onto a lur [a hollowed-out tree trunk that could serve either as a boat or a coffin]. From them spring the families of frost ogres.

Earth, trees, and mountains
The sons of Bor then carried Ymir to the middle of Ginnungagap and made the world from him. From his blood they made the sea and the lakes; from his flesh the earth; from his hair the trees; and from his bones the mountains. They made rocks and pebbles from his teeth and jaws and those bones that were broken.
Dwarfs
Maggots appeared in Ymir’s flesh and came to life. By the decree of the gods they acquired human understanding and the appearance of men, although they lived in the earth and in rocks.
Sky, clouds, and stars
From Ymir’s skull the sons of Bor made the sky and set it over the earth with its four sides. Under each corner they put a dwarf, whose names are East, West, North, and South.
The sons of Bor flung Ymir’s brains into the air, and they became the clouds.

Then they took the sparks and burning embers that were flying about after they had been blown out of Muspell, and placed them in the midst of Ginnungagap to give light to heaven above and earth beneath. To the stars they gave appointed places and paths.

The earth was surrounded by a deep sea. The sons of Bor gave lands near the sea to the families of giants for their settlements.

Midgard
To protect themselves from the hostile giants, the sons of Bor built for themselves an inland stonghold, using Ymir’s eyebrows. This stonghold they named Midgard.
Ask and Embla
While walking along the sea shore the sons of Bor found two trees, and from them they created a man and a woman.
Odin gave the man and the woman spirit and life. Vili gave them understanding and the power of movement. Vé gave them clothing and names. The man was named Ask [Ash] and the woman Embla [Elm?]. From Ask and Embla have sprung the races of men who lived in Midgard.

Asgard
In the middle of the world the sons of Bor built for themselves a stronghold named Asgard, called Troy by later generations. The gods and their kindred lived in Asgard, and many memorable events have happened there.
In Asgard was a great hall named Hlidskjálf. Odin sat there on a high seat. From there he could look out over the whole world and see what everyone was doing. He understood everything that he saw.

Odin, Frigg, and the Æsir
Odin married Frigg, the daughter of Fjörgvin. From this family has come all the kindred that inhabited ancient Asgard and those kingdoms that belonged to it. Members of this family are called the Æsir, and they are all divinities. This must be the reason why Odin is called All-Father. He is the father of all the gods and men and of everything that he and his power created.
Thor
The earth was Odin’s daughter and his wife as well. By her he had his first son, Thor. Might and strength were Thor’s characteristics. By these he dominates every living creature.
Bifröst
As all informed people know, the gods built a bridge from earth to heaven called Bifröst. Some call it the rainbow. It has three colors and is very strong, made with more skill and cunning than other structures. But strong as it is, it will break when the sons of Muspell ride out over it. The gods are not to blame that this structure will then break. Bifröst is a good bridge, but there is nothing in this world that can be relied on when the sons of Muspell are on the warpath.
Yggdrasil
The chief sanctuary of the gods is by the ash tree Yggdrasil. There they hold their daily court. Yggdrasil is the best and greatest of all trees. Its branches spread out over the whole world and reach up over heaven.

Source: https://www.pitt.edu/~dash/creation.html

Mythology {2} ~ Creation Stories {9} ~ Gnostic

One of the things that set Gnosticism apart from the other varieties of early Christianity was its astonishing creation myth, an interpretation of the creation myth of Genesis that practically turns that Old Testament text upside down.

Some people find the Gnostic creation myth to be merely bizarre. Others find it to be downright blasphemous. Others find it to be exhilarating and inspiring.

But whatever your opinion of the Gnostics’ creation myth ends up being, if you want to understand it on its own terms, it’s necessary to be able to at least temporarily see it as the Gnostics themselves saw it: as a story that articulates, and quite possibly even attempts to explain, the human condition. Why is the world we live in so full of senseless suffering? What can we do to overcome that absurdity and misery and put our lives to a meaningful use? Is this world where we really belong, or is the quiet despair that forms a constant background to our lives trying to tell us that we really belong somewhere else? And if so, where do we actually belong?

The Gnostic creation myth has come down to us in numerous different versions in different Gnostic texts. It’s apparent that there was never a single, uniform version of the myth. But the different Gnostic accounts of creation that have survived down to the present day are variations on a common model, not different models altogether.

To very briefly summarize that underlying model: God the Father gave rise to a host of spiritual beings (“aeons“) who populated Heaven (which the Gnostics called the Pleroma, “Fullness”), including a divine Mother and Christ. One of the last of these beings to emanate from the Father, Sophia, gave birth to a new being on her own, without the involvement of her partner or the approval of the Father. The being born under such circumstances was nothing like the perfect inhabitants of the Pleroma; instead, he was ignorant and malevolent. This was the demiurge, “craftsman,” whom the Gnostics identified with the god of the Old Testament. He created the material world to mirror his own wicked personality and trapped sparks of divinity, fragments of the Pleroma, within humans. It was then up to Christ to awaken humans to their true nature and liberate them from the world.

The retelling below follows the version in the Secret Book of John, which is quite representative of the perspective of the classic Gnostic school of thought. The creation stories of the Valentinians, the other early Christian sect or school that can be considered “Gnostic,” still adhere to this same basic model, although many of the details differ.

The Creation Myth of the Secret Book of John

In the beginning, there was only the One, the Father, who is

illimitable, since there is nothing before it to limit it,
unfathomable, since there is nothing before it to fathom it,
immeasurable, since there was nothing before it to measure it,
invisible, since nothing has seen it,
eternal, since it exists eternally,
unutterable, since nothing could comprehend it to utter it,
unnamable, since there is nothing before it to give it a name.[1]

The Father was surrounded by luminous spiritual water. He gazed into the water and saw his reflection. His reflection became Barbelo, the Mother, his female counterpart. Barbelo was also called “Pronoia,” “Forethought,” because she was the first thought of the Father.

Barbelo asked for the Father to grant her Foreknowledge, Incorruptibility, Life Eternal, and Truth. The Father granted her request. Foreknowledge, Incorruptibility, Life Eternal, and Truth came into being and glorified their Father and Mother.

The Father gazed into Barbelo and she conceived by him. She gave birth to a spark of light similar to the Father’s light. This was the Son, who was also called “Autogenes,” “Self-Generated,” since he was at bottom identical with the Father. He was further called “Christ,” “a name greater than every name.”[2] The Father anointed the Son with his goodness, which passed his perfect goodness onto his Son. The Son glorified his Father and Mother.

Just as Barbelo had asked the One to give her new aeons, the Son asked to be given another: Mind. The Father and Mother agreed. Mind arose and glorified its Father and Mother.

Mind wanted to bring something else into being through the Father’s word. Will was born, followed by Word.

The Father made the Son the master of all power and truth. From the Son came the Four Luminaries: Harmozel, Oroiael, Daveithai, and Eleleth. Each came into being with three additional aeons along with its own. The three aeons with Harmozel were Grace, Truth, and Form. The three with Oroiael were Insight, Perception, and Memory. The three with Daveithai were Understanding, Love, and Idea. The three with Eleleth were Perfection, Peace, and Sophia (Wisdom).

Next was “the perfect human,” Pigeradamas (“Adam the Stranger,” “Holy Adam,” or “Old Adam”[3]), who came into being and glorified the Father. He was placed in the aeon of Harmozel. Adam had a son, Seth, who was placed in the aeon of Oroiael. He was set to preside over “the souls of the saints,”[4] those with gnosis, in the aeon of Daveithai. The souls of those who were not saints, but who nevertheless repented eventually, were given a place of their own in the aeon of Eleleth.

Sophia watched these marvelous, radiant beings all around her. A desire to give birth to an aeon of her own arose within her. But she acted on this desire impatiently and impulsively; she didn’t bother to involve her divine partner, nor to obtain the consent of the Father. Since she had descended from the Father, she was full of his tremendous power, and she was able to birth a new being that contained some of her divine essence. But because this new entity had been conceived by Sophia alone, it didn’t resemble the other immortals. Instead, it was hideous and misshapen. It was like a snake with a lion’s head. Its eyes burned like lightning.

In fear and shame, Sophia cast her son out of the divine realm (the Pleroma, “Fullness”) in the hope that none of the other inhabitants of that perfect place would see him. To conceal him further, she enveloped him in a shining cloud and placed him on a throne in the middle of it. She named him Yaldabaoth (which probably means “Child of Chaos”[5]), and he has since also been called Sakla, “Fool,” and Samael, “Blind God.”[6]

Yaldabaoth “mated with the mindlessness in him”[7] and generated twelve archons, demonic beings who would shortly come to rule the earth from the celestial spheres above it: Athoth, Harmas, Kalila-Oumbri, Yabel, Adonaios/Sabaoth, Cain, Abel, Abrisene, Yobel, Armoupieel, Melcheir-Adonein, and Belias.

Because of Yaldabaoth’s foolishness, he was wicked and ignorant of his ancestry. He belligerently proclaimed, “I am God and there is no other god beside me.” His twelve original archons generated new archons until there were 365 of them – one to rule over each day of the year.

As Sophia’s son, Yaldabaoth had the model of the Pleroma within himself. He created the material world based on that model, but because of his ignorance and depravity, it came out all wrong. It was a corrupted and far inferior simulacrum of the divine model.

Sophia watched all of this and was stricken by distress and guilt. She wept and repented for giving birth to such a monstrous entity. The Father, full of perfect love, heard her pleas and promised to forgive her and restore her to her former stature. But first she had to stay in the ninth heaven (the layer of the sky closest to the Pleroma, above Yaldabaoth and the seven archon-populated heavens below him) until she had atoned for her sin and mended her deficiency.

Meanwhile, Yaldabaoth and his archons saw an image of the heavenly Adam from the Father’s pristine realm. They didn’t know where it came from, but they were enthralled by it. They decided to attempt to create a human being for themselves. But at first their creation lay lifeless on the ground. They couldn’t figure out how to animate it.

As they stood around the immobile body puzzling over what to do, the gracious beings of the Pleroma came up with a plan to help the part of Sophia that had become trapped in Yaldabaoth return to her so that she could return to the Pleroma.

Emissaries from the Pleroma appeared to Yaldabaoth and advised him to breathe his spirit into Adam’s face, after which, they assured him, the body would awaken and stand up. Yaldabaoth did so, and Sophia’s power fluttered out of him and into Adam, bringing the first man to life. Because of Sophia’s power within him, he was already wiser, more spiritual, and more intelligent than his creators.

Out of jealousy and resentment, the archons made Adam mortal. They placed him in the Garden of Eden, which they filled with all kinds of sumptuous foods to make him attached to material pleasures and distract him from his true, divine nature.

The archons wanted to possess Adam’s divine insight for themselves, so they took it out of Adam and created a new being to house it – Eve. When Adam saw her, he instantly recognized her as his spiritual counterpart. At Christ’s urging, Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge (gnosis) and grew in their understanding and their superiority over their creators.

Now boiling with hatred and envy, Yaldabaoth raped Eve and cast her and her mate out of the garden. Two sons were born from this tragic intercourse: Cain and Abel, also called “Yahweh” and “Elohim” (two names for “God” in the Old Testament).

But Adam and Eve later had loving, consensual sex on their own. The product of their union was an enlightened boy whom they named “Seth” after the son of the heavenly Adam.

Yaldabaoth couldn’t bear the fact that there were now three beings in his creation who were enlightened and superior to him. He forced Adam, Eve, and Seth to drink the “water of forgetfulness” so that they would lose their gnosis. But the capacity to revive gnosis lay dormant within them; Yaldabaoth wasn’t capable of expunging it completely. And their spiritual descendants among humankind remain capable of regaining that saving illumination. All they need is a savior, Christ, to reveal it to them as he did for their first ancestors.[8]

Conclusion

As the title “Secret Book of John” implies, this story was meant to serve as an addition to the Gospel of John – specifically, a prequel. In terms of plot, it sets the stage, and in terms of theology, it provides a context for understanding John’s gospel through a Gnostic lens. The same can be said of the relationship between the various versions of the Gnostic creation myth and the shared Christian story of Jesus’s life more broadly.

But the creation myth was also a story of central importance to the Gnostics as a standalone tale in its own right. It bound the Gnostic communities together as distinct communities[9] and illustrated some of the key concepts in the Gnostic worldview, such as gnosis and anticosmicism. And as a myth, it did so with a verve and poignancy that bare, conceptual discourse can’t muster.

Source: https://gnosticismexplained.org/the-gnostic-creation-myth/

Mythology {2} ~ Creation Stories {8} ~ The Christian

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning–the first day.

6 And God said, “Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water.” 7 So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so. 8 God called the expanse “sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning–the second day.

9 And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good.

11 Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. 12 The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening, and there was morning–the third day.

14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. 16 God made two great lights–the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. 17 God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth, 18 to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening, and there was morning–the fourth day.

20 And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky.” 21 So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.” 23 And there was evening, and there was morning–the fifth day.

24 And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. 25 God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.

26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground–everything that has the breath of life in it–I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.

31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning–the sixth day.

Source: http://dept.cs.williams.edu/~lindsey/myths/myths_15.html