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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.

Modern representation of Bellona, the Roman goddess of war.

Bellona: The Roman Goddess of War and Artistic Muse

Linked to war, destruction, conquest, and bloodlust, Bellona was a mighty figure in the ancient Roman pantheon of gods. As a personification of war, Bellona became quite a popular figure in the arts...
Triumph of Achilles in Corfu Achilleion.

Death and Glory: Heroes in Search of Kleos

By Van Bryan/ Classical Wisdom It was the great philosopher, Woody Allen, who said, “I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work; I want to achieve immortality through not dying. I don’t want...
Aztec sculpture representing the head of the aztec god Xolotl, exhibited in the Mexico room of the Museo Nacional de Antropología de México.

Xolotl – The Underworld Dog God of the Aztecs

According to Aztec mythology, Xolotl was a deity normally associated with Quetzalcoatl, one of the most important gods in the Aztec pantheon. As a matter of fact, Xolotl was regarded to be the twin...
The one-eyed Odin with his ravens Hugin and Munin and his weapons. An illustration from an 18th-century Icelandic manuscript.

The Saga of Gestumblindi and Odin’s Riddles

In mythology, riddles are used to test the intelligence and wisdom of mortals. They can contain elements of everyday life, but they can also contain elements from lore that would only be known by...
Valhalla

Denizens of Valhalla and the Transient Afterlife of Norse Myth

The ancient Norse were one of the few cultures to create a mythology that did not necessarily promise eternal life of any kind for the souls of the deceased. The world was believed to be heading...
A demon or dark angel.

A Multitude of Demons: More on the Mythology of the Constantine TV Series

Jacques Collin de Plancy was a French occultist, demonologist and writer. He published a number of books on occultism and demonology. The most famous of these books is probably his “Dictionnaire...
The Abyss of Hell, Sandro Botticelli, 1480s

What is hell?

The recent dispute over whether Pope Francis denied the existence of hell in an interview attracted wide attention . This isn’t surprising, since the belief in an afterlife, where the virtuous are...
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...

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