spirit

Squirrels – ancient messengers from the underworld (Public Domain) and squirrel tracks

Squirrel! Fuzzy Messengers from the Ancient Underworld? The Little-Known Archetype in Mythology

When it comes to archetypal spirit guides, often the focus is upon ferocious guardians and large, intimidating beasts. However, one of the most important, yet overlooked animals in world mythology is...
A mandala.

The Mandala: Mapping the Cosmos and the Soul

Human cultures are replete with ways to depict or represent some aspect of the universe. Calendars, ordinary maps, star charts, and other diagrams are all examples of ways to make sense of or map...
Hashihime.

Demonic Dames: Watch out for the Vengeful Women of Japanese Legends

Japan has had stories about oni (demons or ogres) and yuurei (ghosts) for hundreds of years. As time passes, new vengeful spirits continue to appear and their stories are told even in the present day...
Detail of ‘Shaman’, (1930) by Arman Manookian.

The Real Story of Shamanism: No Need to Don a Headdress or Take Hallucinogens

Over the centuries, many of the world’s natural mystics have succumbed to pogroms of elimination or the steady erosion of traditional practices – witches burnt at the stake, indigenous peoples forced...
Little Known Links Between Spirits You Drink and the Holy Spirit

Little Known Links Between Spirits You Drink and the Holy Spirit

Beer may have been invented by the ancient Egyptians, but it was perfected in medieval monasteries, which gave us modern brewing as we know it. They also pioneered and improved several methods of...
Painting of Father General Saint Francis Borgia, SJ, performing an exorcism, by Goya.

Modern Possessions: What Evil is Behind the Resurgence in Demand for Exorcisms?

Less than five years ago, a new army of exorcists was created by the Roman Catholic Church. They were trained to deal with the “unprecedented rise” in requests for help in battling evil spirits. The...
Detail of two ancient Egyptian 'gate spells'. On the top register, Ani and his wife face the ‘gates of the House of Osiris'. Below, they encounter the 'mysterious portals of the House of Osiris in the Field of Reeds'. All are guarded by unpleasant underworld protectors.

Through the Twelve Chambers of Hell: The Afterlife in Ancient Egypt

Death, the ancient Egyptians believed, was not the end of our struggles. They believed in an afterlife and that the worthy would go on to paradise, but their dead didn’t simply pass over to the other...
Trailer for Ouija Movie. (BagoGames/CC BY 2.0) Insert: Ouija board on your skull: noe valley, san francisco (2015).

Talking Boards: Terrifying Tales of Ouija Boards and Demons, Possession, and Death

Ouija boards, also known as talking boards or spirit boards, are a relatively modern tool/game that strikes fear and wonder in the hearts of many people. Almost everyone has heard stories of someone...
Ketchikan, Alaska. Native American totem pole

Witchcraft, Worship or Public Shaming? The Puzzling Purpose of Totem Poles in North America

Totem poles are a type of monumental structure carved from the trunks of huge trees, especially the Western Red Cedar. These monuments are found in North America, specifically along its north-western...
Navajo Yebichai (Yei Bi Chei) dancers. Edward S. Curtis. USA, 1900. The Welcome Collection, London

Can a Ghost Make You Ill? The Ghost Sickness Belief of the Native American Indians

Ghost sickness is the belief that ghosts are able to cause a living person to fall ill. This particular term is used by the Native Americans, especially amongst the Navajo people. Nevertheless, this...
The Spirit of the Dead Keeps Watch’ (1892) by Paul Gauguin.

Ghost Beliefs in Polynesia: When Spirits Return and Possess

A belief in ghosts is held by many cultures (both modern and ancient) around the world. Some of these ghost beliefs are well-known, whilst others, such as those held by the Polynesians, are less so...
Statue of Persephone, circa 525 BC and painting The Deluge

Hell on Earth? Is the REAL location of the Ancient Underworld Right in Front of Us?

The myth of the underworld, much like the myth of the lost paradise and the worldwide deluge, is a universal one. Cultures from all across the world, past and present, widely separated and with...
Not Just an Urban Legend: The Terrifying Ghostly Tales of the Lady in White

Not Just an Urban Legend: The Terrifying Ghostly Tales of the Lady in White

There is a famous “ghost” of a long-haired woman in a white dress in Quezon City, Philippines. According to legends, she died in a car accident while driving along Balete Drive. Her stories usually...
Wailing Out the Lament-Filled Legends and Origins of Irish Banshees

Wailing Out the Lament-Filled Legends and Origins of Irish Banshees

To hear her harrowing wail tear through the night sky was an omen of certain death. The cry of the banshee implied that someone in your family had died or was about to– or, that you were about to...
Naupa Iglesia: An Egyptian Portal in the Andes?

Naupa Iglesia: An Egyptian Portal in the Andes?

Halfway up a near-vertical ravine in the Andes, someone carved an inverted V-shaped entrance into the mountainside. Then they sliced the bedrock with great precision to create a shallow door that...
A Heart as Cold as Ice? The Japanese Legend of Yuki-onna, the Beautiful Yet Dangerous Snow Woman

A Heart as Cold as Ice? The Japanese Legend of Yuki-onna, the Beautiful Yet Dangerous Snow Woman

The legend of Yuki-onna (the snow woman) comes from The Land of the Rising Sun. This beautiful but dangerous character may be a personification of death in a severe snow storm. Japanese legends do...

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Human Origins

Sumerian creation myth
Sumer , or the ‘land of civilized kings’, flourished in Mesopotamia, now modern-day Iraq, around 4500 BC. Sumerians created an advanced civilization with its own system of elaborate language and...

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At Ancient Origins, we believe that one of the most important fields of knowledge we can pursue as human beings is our beginnings. And while some people may seem content with the story as it stands, our view is that there exists countless mysteries, scientific anomalies and surprising artifacts that have yet to be discovered and explained.

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Ancient Image Galleries

View from the Castle Gate (Burgtor). (Public Domain)
Door surrounded by roots of Tetrameles nudiflora in the Khmer temple of Ta Phrom, Angkor temple complex, located today in Cambodia. (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Cable car in the Xihai (West Sea) Grand Canyon (CC BY-SA 4.0)