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Myths & Legends

All over the world there are extraordinary stories—stories that once upon a time were believed to be true but are today limited to the sphere of ancient myths and legends. The question remains, are those myths and legends stories something that existed in the minds of our ancestors, or were they based on true events? It is true that most of those ancient myths and legends stories appear to the scientific world as fictitious products of vivid imaginations whose goals were purely to explain phenomena beyond their comprehension. Yet is it not arrogant to accuse our ancestors of being uncivilised and ignorant in one breath, then offer them praise and admiration over their monuments, buildings, art, sculptures, and societies in the next? This only proves that our modern society has two contradictory attitudes toward our past.

In this section we will explore some of the most amazing myths and legends from around the world—legends that may hold truths that can unlock the secrets of our ancient origins.

Shields bearing image of Ahuizotl, Museum of Ethnology, Vienna.

Was the Ahuizotl an Aztec Mythical Creature or a Real Fisherman’s Foe?

The Ahuizotl (which may be translated from Nahuatl to mean ‘Thorny One of the Water’) is a creature found in the mythology of the Aztecs. This legendary creature is believed to inhabit the lakes and...
A modern representation of Humbaba

Humbaba: A Monstrous Foe for Gilgamesh or a Misunderstood Guardian?

Humbaba (Huwawa) is a guardian creature found in the Epic of Gilgamesh , which is generally considered to be the earliest surviving great work of literature. Although Humbaba is traditionally...
 ‘Idun and the Apples’ (1890) by J. Doyle Penrose.

Idunn: The Rejuvenating Goddess that Keeps Norse Deities Young

Idunn (Iðunn) is one of the most important goddesses in Norse mythology. The name of this goddess has been variously translated to mean ‘The Rejuvenating One’, ‘Ever Young’, and ‘Rejuvenator’, which...
Illustration of a winged helmet.

Did Ancient Warriors Really Go to Battle Wearing Winged Helmets?

The winged helmet is a type of helmet that is found in mythology as well as history. In the realm of mythology, such helmets are associated with the Greek god Hermes (known also as Mercury by the...
Sacred Inca citadel, Machu Picchu, Peru, on the boarder of the Andes and the Amazon.

Matching Myth and Genetics: Revealing the Origins of the Inca Through Modern DNA

The Inca people arrived at Cusco valley and in a few centuries built the Tawantinsuyu, the largest empire in the Americas. The Tawantinsuyu was the cultural climax of 6,000 years of Central Andes...
Thor and the Midgard Serpent, by Emil Doepler, 1905.

Thor: How a Norse Warrior God of Thunder Handles a Predicament

Thor is one of the most important gods in the Norse pantheon. He’s normally depicted as a middle-aged man with a red-beard wielding his famous weapon, a magical hammer known as Mjollnir...
Heimdall blowing Gjallarhorn

Heimdall, Watchman of the Gods, Will Sound the Horn as Ragnarok Approaches

Heimdall is a god in the Norse pantheon, most well-known for his task to announce the coming of Ragnarok by sounding his horn, which will be heard across all worlds. He is one of the better-known...
‘Nótt riding Hrímfaxi’ by Peter Nicolai Arbo. Nótt is the daughter of a jötunn from Jötunheimr by the name of "Norfi or Narfi."

A Jotunn Did Not Have to be Giant to be a Big Problem for Norse Gods

The jötnar (plural for jötunn) are a race of beings found in Norse mythology. The word jötnar is often translated into English to mean ‘giants’, though this is somewhat misleading, as not all of the...
Tyr, Gleipnir and Fenrir.

Tyr: The Norse God of Law and War Breaks a Promise

The Norse god Tyr is not very well-known, at least when compared to such names as Odin and Thor. But he is also part of the Aesir tribe in the Norse pantheon and Tyr could be called the bravest of...
Painting by John Bauer of two trolls with a human child they have raised

The Weird, Wonderful and Wicked Beings in Scandinavian Folklore

In Scandinavian folklore, there are numerous races of beings, the best-known of which (apart from human beings) are the gods and the jötnar, their nemesis. In rather simplistic terms, these may be...
"Zaporozhian Cossacks write to the Sultan of Turkey" by Ilya Repin (1844–1930)

The Cossack Sorcerers of Folk Legends and Historical Chronicles

The image of Cossack Sorcerers was so popular that there are many legends about them. One tells of the Battle of the Cossacks against the Poles. As soon as the Cossack Sorcerer Kravchina (army) hit...
The Flying Carpet, a depiction of the hero of Russian folklore, Ivan Tsarevich by Victor Vasnetsov, 1880.

Cossack-Sorcerers: The Secretive and Magical Warrior Society of Ukraine

Almost everyone knows about Japanese Ninjas and Chinese Shaolin monks. Their combat skills are well promoted in Hollywood. However, few know that at one time in Europe there were soldiers, whose...
Detail of ‘The Punishment of Sisyphus’ (1548-1549) by Titian

The Myth of Sisyphus: Lessons in Absurdity

The legend of Sisyphus begins with a man who, if we are to believe Homer, was one of the wisest and most prudent of mortals. Nonetheless he would fall out of favor with the gods of ancient Greece. He...
Constantine TV Series logo

Ancient Mythology Is Embedded Within the Constantine TV Series

Constantine is an American TV series that centers around the character of John Constantine, a British exorcist and occult detective who hunts supernatural entities. The entire Constantine series is...
‘L’enlèvement de Proserpine’ (The Rape of Proserpine) (circa 1636) by Peter Paul Rubens.

The Rape of a Goddess: How Demeter Beat the All-Powerful Zeus

Who were Demeter and Persephone? And why did their myth resonate so strongly with women of ancient Greece? The story of Demeter, goddess of the harvest, and her daughter Persephone, queen of the...
Prometheus and Hercules by Christian Griepenkerl.

Betrayed by the Acts of Others? The Events that Led to Prometheus’s Perennial Punishment

The story of Prometheus, Epimetheus and Pandora is a popular myth of ancient Greece - one that has been told and retold throughout the ages. It is a tale of Prometheus, the son of a titan, who was...

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