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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 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 appear to the scientific world to be 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.

Fortuna (1754) by Tadeusz Kuntze. National Museum in Warsaw.

The Goddess Tyche as Lady Luck

Throughout time, humanity has given great consideration to elements believed to bring good fortune our way. The more people believe that they can control unpredictable forces, the more they trust...
Prophet Elijah (Al-Khidr) Rescuing Nur ad-Dahr from the Sea, a scene from the Hamzanama, here imagined in a Persian miniature by Mir Sayyid Ali (c. 1550 C.E.).

The Strange Life of Al-Khidr, the Legendary Immortal Prophet, Mystic, Trickster and Sea Spirit

In ancient Islamic legend, there exists the wonderful, contrary figure of Al-Khiḍr, an immortal prophet who kills a youth out of mercy and who scuttles a boat of some travelers to deny the greed of a...
Deriv; Unidentified ancient manuscript

The Hidden Origins of Il Separatio: Manuscripts Deemed Dangerous and Banned

Throughout history a large number of books have been banned only because they contained various uncomfortable truths or tales. Such books have been systematically hunted down and destroyed by...
Deriv; Moses and the Messengers from Canaan, Christopher Marlowe

Questioning the Moses Timeline: Clues revealed in work of murdered playwright Marlowe

On May 29th, 1593, a government informer, Richard Baines, formally charged the famous playwright, Christopher Marlowe, with blasphemy. The complaint sent to Queen Elizabeth I read: “Containing the...
Ancient elves were diabolical fiends and dangerous beauties.

Revealing the True Nature of Elves: Dangerous Beauties and Diabolical Fiends

Present day movies show elves as beautiful beings who help people in their times of need. However, the original ancient form of these beings was quite hostile towards humans. Often enough, elves...
Painting of Snow Maiden (1899) by Viktor M. Vasnetsov.

The Snow Maiden of Slavic Folklore: Magical Characters of Winter from Russia

Ded Moroz, translated to (Grand)father Frost, or Old Man Frost, is a legendary Slavic character that makes his rounds every New Year’s Eve. Along with his companion, Snegurochka (Snow Maiden), he...
Ded Moroz and Snegurochka in the sleigh

Meet Father Frost and his Fairy Goddaughter Snow Maiden: Magical Characters of Winter from Russia

Ded Moroz, translated to (Grand)father Frost, or Old Man Frost, is a legendary Slavic character that makes his rounds every New Year’s Eve. Along with his companion, Snegurochka, he brings delight to...
The devil carrying Danila Prepeleac.

Danila Prepeleac – The Man Who Tricked the Devil

Romanian mythology and folklore present a more comic image of the Devil. Also, in many cases, the Devil is fooled by clever humans who manage to escape him by means of various tricks. One example of...
An evil undead woman and a demon king spell the end of Khoma Brut in a Slavic tale

Beware the Evil Dead in Myth and Folklore: The Tale of Khoma Brut

A well-known medieval tale talks about the three living and the three dead. As the story goes, three young men meet three undead walking, talking corpses. The dead tell the living that they must mend...
A frog changes into a princess in the painting Tsarevna Frog ("The Frog Princess") by Viktor Vasnetsov

Forgotten Rituals and Magical Practices in Ancient History

Over the centuries, historic texts have recorded a large number of rituals – magical or religious – some of which have been preserved in modified forms, while others remain only in obscure, old books...
Deriv; Revelers dressed as Krampusin Austria

Santa’s Horned Helper: The Fearsome Legend of Krampus, Christmas Punisher

In ancient times, a dark, hairy, horned beast was said to show up at the door to beat children, and carry them off in his sharp claws. The Krampus could be heard in the night by the sound of his...
Detail, An illustration of Loki with a fishnet, from an Icelandic 18th century manuscript.

Loki – The Trickster Redeemed?

For a long time, Loki, the Trickster of Norse mythology, has been demonized as a figure of evil. But is he really so? Many mythologies speak about beings that are neither good, nor evil, entities of...
Francisco Goya, Witches' Sabbath (El aquelarre).

Mythology in Romania: Exploring Beliefs about Witchcraft and the Devil

An old Romanian proverb says: Do not speak badly of the Devil because you cannot know to whom you will belong . According to popular Romanian mythology, it is not considered difficult to establish a...
Photo of the dome of the so-called Lupercal Cave, taken by a probe beneath the Domus Livia on the Palatine Hill, Rome, Italy.

The Lupercal Cave: A Refuge for Romulus and Remus and the Roman Festival of Lupercalia

The Lupercal Cave is a cave mentioned in the story of Romulus and Remus, the legendary founders of the city of Rome. Like many other legendary forefathers of ancient cities and societies, Romulus and...
Cat Keiko (1841) by Utagawa Kuniyoshi.

Beware of Cat: Tales of the Wicked Japanese Bakeneko and Nekomata – Part Two

Read Part I Who knew innocent little Fluffy could be so devious? Cats’ reputations have often swayed from good to evil over the years as they have been both revered and feared around the world. One...
Fire Symbolism

Fire Symbolism: Flames that Ignite Faiths and Inspire Minds

Since it was first proposed by the Pre-Socratic philosopher, Empedocles of Acragas, fire has been regarded in the Western world as one of the four classical elements. The status of fire as a...
Sigurd and Fafnir (Public domain). Fáfnir was a son of the dwarf king Hreidmar. After being affected by the curse of Andvari's ring and gold, Fafnir became a dragon and was slain by Sigurd.

Outlaws, trolls and berserkers: Meet the hero-monsters of the Icelandic sagas

Iceland’s medieval literature is rich in many regards: in Eddas and sagas, it tells us about early Scandinavia and its expanding world-view, ranging from the mythology of the North, the legends and...
Midas and Dionysus by Poussin (1594-1665), showing the end of the myth in which Midas thanks Dionysus for freeing him of the gift/curse previously granted.

Everything he Touched Turned to Gold: The Myth and Reality of King Midas

Almost everyone has heard the story of King Midas, the legendary king who turned everything he touched to gold. But how much myth and how much reality is there around this character? Was there really...
Viktor Vasnetsov's Sirin (left) and Alkonost (right) Birds of Joy and Sorrow, 1896

Alkonost and the Gamayun, the mythical beings of Slavic folklore

The Alkonost and the Gamayun are mythological creatures with the body of a bird and the head of a beautiful woman. They derive from Slavic and Old Russian folklore, and are described as mythical...
Leprechaun hat

Leprechauns: The Little People of Irish Folklore

The Leprechaun is a much-loved and sometimes feared magical creature of Irish folk legend. Short in stature and with a long-beard and pot of gold, leprechauns were once believed to pervade the Irish...
A 15th century depiction of Scota’s voyage from Egypt.

Scota: Mother of Scotland and Daughter of a Pharaoh

During the 1440s, a Scottish chronicler, Walter Bower, sought to trace the history of the Scottish people from the earliest times. The result of his endeavour was the creation of a compendium of...
Dante e Virgilio nel Purgatorio, Domenico Morelli

A Pilgrimage of Thought, Pt 4: Dante Ascends Mount Purgatory

Read Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 Purgatory is presented within The Divine Comedy as a mountain that must be climbed to be overcome. Following Dante and Virgil's sojourn into Hell, he and his guide...
Botticelli's Map of Dante's inferno

A Pilgrimage of Thought, Pt 3: Dante Treks through the Inferno of Satan

Read Part 1 | Part 2 At the beginning of Inferno , the first section of the Divine Comedy , Dante Alighieri is thirty-five years old in the year 1300—representing both the new millennium and the...
“Eternal Punishment in Greek Mythology”

Crime and Punishment: Eternal Damnations as handed down by the Ancient Greek Gods

Nothing sends a clearer message than an angry punishment handed down from the gods. In belief systems of cultures around the world deities have been disciplining their flocks since time immemorial,...

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