Eight of the Most Powerful Mythical Objects in History
Myths and legends abound with exciting tales of mystical objects and powerful artifacts that unlock great power and unimaginable treasures. From the Chintamani stone of Hindu mythology to the Spear of Destiny from Christian folklore, these objects have captured the imaginations of people across cultures and generations.
Whether talismans of good fortune, weapons of divine justice, or tools with magical abilities, these artifacts endure as a symbol of the supernatural and the human desire for power and protection. Within the captivating realms of folklore, these mythical objects continue to inspire and fascinate us, reminding us of the boundless possibilities of the human imagination and the power of storytelling.
In the following article, we invite you to journey into the vast realm of ancient mythology as we unravel the captivating narratives surrounding the tales of eight legendary mythical objects that have enraptured the human psyche for centuries.
#1. Mythical Objects - Excalibur, Sword of King Arthur
We begin our exploration with the most renowned sword in history - Excalibur, of Arthurian legend. This mythical object is renowned for its extraordinary power and its symbolic association with the true king of England, King Arthur. According to the fables, only the rightful king could wield this sword, which bestowed upon its wielder exceptional strength and prowess in battle.
This being Arthurian legend, which has a truly mind-boggling number of variations, Excalibur’s traits tend to vary from version to version. Many people associate Excalibur with tales of the sword in the stone, the story of how a young Arthur pulled the magical sword from a stone, making him king. This version of the sword’s origin first appeared in 1200 AD in Robert de Boron’s Merlin. Keep in mind that it was Merlin that predicted whoever removed the sword would become king.
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Later versions of the Arthurian mythos offer a different account of Excalibur's origins. In these iterations, Excalibur is depicted as Arthur's second sword, acquired after his original sword (the sword in the stone) is shattered in a ferocious battle. Upon receiving wise counsel from Merlin, Arthur seeks out the mystical lady of the lake, who presents him with the enchanted sword, Excalibur. As the story goes, when Arthur eventually meets his demise, he entrusts his men with the solemn task of returning Excalibur to the lake from whence it came.
In some versions, the Excalibur sword is imbued with magical powers, making its wielder stronger, faster or even invisible in battle. In other versions, the sword is largely symbolic. Throughout history, Excalibur has been interpreted as a symbol of Arthur’s strength and valor. It’s inspired countless works of literature, art and film, as well as appearing in almost every role-playing game known to man. It remains one of the most enduring and beloved symbols of the Arthurian mythos to this day.
Thor’s hammer, known as Mjolnir. (Nada Orlic / Adobe Stock)
#2. Mythical Objects - Mjolnir, Thor’s Hammer
The second most famous mythical object on this list has to be Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir, especially since its recent prominence in the recent spate of Marvel films. Mjolnir is probably the most iconic weapon in Norse mythology.
Much like the Arthurian tales, Norse mythology is full of variations so we’ll have to generalize a little bit here. Mjolnir is normally described as having been forged by the dwarves Brokkr and Eitri who were asked by Loki to fashion the hammer. Famously, Thor could use it to control thunder and lightning. And hit things. Thor loved to hit things.
The most famous myth surrounding the hammer is the story of how Thor lost and then regained his iconic weapon. As the story goes, the god of mischief, Loki, orchestrated the theft of Thor’s hammer by a giant. In order for Thor to retrieve it, he had to disguise himself as a woman and retrieve the hammer with the help of Loki.
Mjolnir has become an enduring symbol of Norse mythology, representing strength, power and protection. Like Excalibur, it has been incorporated into many aspects of modern pop culture, appearing in comics, movies and video games.
#3. Mythical Objects - Golden Fleece, The Original Fetch Quest
Let’s move away from weapons for a moment. Many old myths feature the hero on a quest to find and retrieve a mythical object. This was a particularly common trope in ancient Greek mythology and the Golden Fleece is a classic example.
The fleece was said to come from a magical winged ram called Chrysomallos. Chrysomallos was sent by the gods to rescue Phrixus and Helle (the children of an important king) from their evil stepmother. Sadly, Helle fell from the ram’s back and died, but Phrixus was safely rescued. In thanks, he slaughtered the poor ram and hung its golden fleece in a sacred grove.
Fast forward a few years and Jason and the Argonauts, remembered as great Greek heroes, are tasked with retrieving the fleece as part of Jason’s quest to regain his throne. With the help of the sorceress, Medea, Jason obtained the fleece and returned home victorious.
The fleece went on to appear in later myths. It was said to have magical healing powers and heroes like Atlanta and Perseus went seeking it out. It was also associated with the Aries constellation and with the power of kingship. The fleece is often interpreted as a symbol of wealth, power and prestige. The mythology of this mythical object has been celebrated in literature, art and film, making it one of the most enduring and beloved symbols of Greek mythology.
Jason and the Golden Fleece, by Erasmus Quellinus II circa 1630. (Public domain)
#4. Mythical Objects - The Philosopher’s Stone, the Key to Wealth and Immortality
Until the release of the first Harry Potter book it’s perhaps safe to say the Philosopher’s Stone wasn’t as well known as other entries on this list. Even today, most people are likely unfamiliar with it outside the fact it’s a Harry Potter title.
The original Philosopher’s Stone was a legendary substance in Western alchemy. It was said to have the power to transmute (change) base metals (like lead) into precious ones (aka gold). Some legends also had it granting eternal youth or life to those who found it. Many alchemists spent their entire lives searching for it through both the Middle Ages and Renaissance.
We’re not sure where the legend originally came from, but it’s believed to have been influenced by ancient Egyptian and Greek alchemical practices. The stone was then popularized by alchemists like Albertus Magnus and Paracelsus, who believed the stone was the key to unlocking the mysteries of the universe.
For many, the Stone was a metaphor for spiritual transformation and enlightenment, rather than an actual physical object. The process of transforming a base metal into gold was seen as symbolizing an alchemist’s journey toward achieving a higher level of consciousness and understanding.
Unsurprisingly, the Philosopher’s stone was never discovered. But, those who reached for it did lay the foundation for modern chemistry and scientific discovery. Today, the idea of eternal you or the transmutation of metals may seem “out there” but they inspired generations of scientists and thinkers to push the boundaries of what was believed possible, paving the way for some of mankind’s greatest discoveries.
#5. Mythical Objects - Spear of Destiny, Relic of the Crucifixion
Christian iconography has long had a macabre fixation on Jesus Christ and his death by crucifixion. Take, for example, the Spear of Destiny. The spear is said to have been used to pierce Jesus’s side while he was on the cross and was believed to possess powerful properties as a result.
The spear has been associated with several powerful historical figures. The Roman Emperor Constantine was said to have carried it into battle, where it helped him achieve great victories. It has also been claimed the spear was wielded by other figures such as Charlemagne and Napoleon.
Legends around it persisted well into the 20th century when it became associated with Nazi Germany. Hitler was said to have had an obsession with the occult and supposedly believed the spear would give him the power to conquer the world. Allegedly, the Nazis obtained a spear they believed to be the Spear of Destiny and displayed it in a museum in Nuremberg.
This spear, known as the Reichskleinodien, has been examined by scientists who believe it dates back to around 800 AD. Another spear, said to be the Spear of Destiny, is conserved in Vagharshapat in Armenia. Another version of the legendary weapon was supposedly buried at the Church of St. Peter in Antioch.
Despite the authenticity of these mythical objects being disputed, the legend surrounding them lives on. The spear’s supposed mystical powers and association with powerful historical figures make it a fascinating and enduring symbol of human history and mythology. Conspiracy theorists will likely keep attributing it to powerful people for centuries to come.
Crucifixion miniature depicting Jesus being pierced with a lance. Known as the Holy Lance or the Spear of Destiny, this lance has later been associated with several powerful historical figures. (Public domain)
#6. Mythical Objects - The Monkey King’s Staff
The Monkey King’s staff, known as Ruyi Jingu Bang, is one of the most famous objects in Chinese mythology. It was created by the dragon king of the eastern seas and was given to the monkey king, Sun Wukong, in thanks after he helped the dragon king defeat a demon.
When the Monkey King first gets his hands on the staff it is a simple pillar of black iron, twenty feet in height (6 m) and the width of a barrel. Rather than being a weapon, the pillar was originally used by Yu the Great (a legendary king of ancient Chinese myth) to measure the depth of a great flood from long ago.
When the monkey king lifts the pillar it immediately shrinks down to a more manageable size. When he reads the inscription on the side he learns it weighs the equivalent of 17,500 pounds (8,000 kg). The monkey soon learns he can change the staff's size at will and is able to shrink it to the size of a needle when he doesn’t need it. It was also said to be indestructible and able to control the elements.
In the classic Chinese novel, Journey to the West, the Monkey King uses the staff to great effect, defeating demons, monsters and other supernatural threats. The staff has become an enduring symbol of Chinese mythology, representing power and strength.
The Monkey King, and his staff known as the Ruyi Jingu Bang, from Chinese mythology. (Public domain)
#7. Mythical Objects - The Seal of Solomon, Controlling Demons
The Seal of Solomon, or Ring of Solomon, is a magical signet ring attributed to the Israelite king, Solomon. It is usually depicted as being either a pentagram or a hexagram and in religious legend supposedly gave Solomon various powers. As with other mythical objects, the ring allowed Solomon to command supernatural entities such as the shedim (a term used to describe spirits and demons in Judaism) and jinn (meaning genies). It was also said to allow him to speak to animals and provided protection against evil forces.
The earliest references to the seal come from early Jewish tradition. In particular, it was first mentioned by the first-century Jewish historian, Josephus. It then later made its way into Islamic Arab sources where it became associated with the Prophet Sulaiman who was said to control the wind, animals and jinn. In both Jewish and Islamic magic and talismans the symbol is believed to have protective and healing powers.
The most famous legends around the ring, however, come from medieval Eastern writers. They stated the ring was engraved by God and was given to Solomon directly from heaven. It was made of brass and iron and the two parts were used to seal commands to good and evil spirits respectively. While mentions of a magic ring date back to around 100 AD, Solomon’s association with the idea seems to, in general, be a later belief.
14th century Goryeo painting of Ksitigarbha holding a cintamani. (Public domain)
#8. Mythical Objects - Chintamani Stone, The Ultimate Good Luck Charm
The Chintamani stone is a mythical object from both ancient Hindu and Buddhist mythology. It was said to have extraordinary powers and was seen as the ultimate good luck charm. The stone was believed to have originated from the gods, discovered by Garuda, who gave it to his mother, Vinata.
The stone is said to be a fabulous jewel that, depending on the myth, has a whole host of abilities. It is usually depicted as having the ability to grant any wish, while other variations have it possessing potent healing abilities or the ability to bring peace and prosperity to whoever wields it.
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Like many other mythical objects on this list, the possession of the Chintamani stone has been attributed to real and mythological figures alike. The most famous myth has it being possessed by the demon king Ravana who was said to have obtained it, but then lost it, to the god Rama.
It is also often compared to the western Philosopher’s Stone. Many who took the legend literally spent years trying to find the Chintamani stone. It is an enduring symbol of good fortune and prosperity in Hindu and Buddhist mythology and represents not only the power of the gods but the possibility of achieving one’s greatest desires.
From the Sword in the Stone to the Monkey King's Staff, the subject of mythical objects is fascinating and endlessly intriguing subject, filled with stories of powerful artifacts and mystical objects. They represent the human desire for power, protection and the attainment of one's greatest desires.
Despite the fact that these mythical objects are often fictional, they continue to captivate and inspire people to this day, reminding us of the power of myth and the enduring human fascination with the supernatural. Whether they are symbols of good fortune, tools of divine justice or instruments of magic, these objects remind us that the world of mythology is full of wonder and possibility and that there is always something more to discover and explore.
Top image: The Excalibur sword is just one of the marvelous mythical objects from ancient folklore. Source: Deivison / Adobe Stock
The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica. 02 December 2090. “Philosopher’s Stone” in Encyclopedia Britannica. Available at: https://www.britannica.com/topic/philosophers-stone
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