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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...
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...
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...
"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...
‘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...
Depiction of a bonnacon in a medieval bestiary.

Do Not Attack the Bonnacon, A Medieval Beast with a Toxic Defense

The bonnacon is a strange beast believed to have existed in the ancient world. The first attestation to the existence of the bizarre creature is traced to the Roman natural historian, Pliny the Elder...

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