As a definition, myths are traditional stories from a country or specific group of people, concerning the early origins of the world or groups of people. They may include explanations to natural or social phenomenons, which are often related to supernatural beings or events. It comes from the Greek mythos and, we could use words such as fable or legend to make comparisons.
We all love these, one way or the other. Maybe they were passed down from generation to generation or they were lucky enough to be preserved in writing. However, there are many stories that aren’t as famous as others. We all know about Zeus and his father Kronos. We all know about Horus and his quest for vengeance over his uncle Seth. And maybe we also know a little bit about Coyote, Vishnu, Thor or Sheng-Long. But what about the other gods? Or the deities who weren’t lucky enough to endure the test of time? The silent heroes who made big sacrifices that were left unspoken or the ones whose only desire was to help someone, no matter the consequences and asking nothing in return?
1. The Hindu Creation
Before time began there was no heaven, no earth and no space in between. A vast dark ocean washed upon the shores of nothingness and licked the edges of the night. A giant Cobra floated on the waters and asleep within its endless coils lay the Lord Vishnu. He was watched over by the mighty serpent, everything was so silent and peaceful that Vishnu slept undisturbed. From the depths a humming sound began to tremble, Ohm. It grew and spread, filling the emptiness and throbbing with energy. The night ended and Vishnu awoke. As the dawn began to break, from Vishnu’s navel grew a magnificent lotus flower. In the middle of the blossom sat Vishnu’s servant, Brahma; and he patiently awaited the Lord’s command. Vishnu spoke to his servant: “It’s time to begin. Create the world”
Brahma vowed, and a powerful wind came to swept the waters. Vishnu and the serpent vanished. Brahma remained in the lotus flower, floating and tossing on the sea. He lifted up his arms and calmed the wind and the ocean. Then split the lotus flower into three: stretched one part into the heavens and made another part into the earth. With the third part of the flower he created the skies but still the earth was bare, so his work was not yet done. He created grass, flowers, trees and plants of all kinds and to all of these he gave feeling. Next he created animals and the insects to live in the land, birds for the sky and many fishes for the waters. To all these creatures he gave the sense of touch and smell and also the power to see, hear and move. The world was finally bristling with life and the air was filled with the sounds of Creation and Brahma’s work was done.
2. Sekhmet, the Lioness
Sekhmet, also know as Sakhet, Sakhmet or Sekhet, the fiercest hunter of Egypt. Her name comes from the word ‘sekhem’ (power), and her name means: “The One Who Is Powerful”. She is usually represented as a woman with the head of a lioness, dressed in red and sometimes with a Rosetta pattern located in her breast, but sometimes she is naked. She also wears the Solar Disk and Uraeus, the Pharaonic headdress, which associates her with Wadjet (the cobra goddess). Sekhmet was consider a warrior goddess and goddess of healing for Upper Egypt, in which she was the Patron of Physicians and healers. Her priestess where consider skilled doctors and healers. She would be invoked to fight against the “demons” of plague and disease, but people believed also she could send these demons against her enemies.
Her myth goes like this: when Ra wanted to punish mankind for ignoring the gods, he sent the lioness-headed goddess (a variation says that she was created by the fire of Ra as a weapon of vengeance against humans), becoming the “Eye of Ra”. Once in land, the Goddess started a slaughter, killing men, women, and kids alike. Her blood thirst had no limits, and she almost extincted humankind. To stop her, the other gods tricked her. They flooded a field with Khakadi (a mix of beer and red color that looked like blood) and Sekhmet gorged herslef into it to drink, getting drunk and passing out. When she woke up, the first thing she saw was Ptah (the god creator), falling in love with him almost instantly. From this union, it was born Nefertum (Healing) and the peace between humans and gods was re-established.
3. Hestia, the Virgin
Her myth says that she is sister of Zeus. She is worshiped as the goddess of cooking, hearth and architecture; it was said that in every household the first offering was to be on her name by Zeus command. It is said she gave her place among the Olympians to Dionysus to stop a confrontation and for this gesture Zeus gave her the keys to Mount Olympus, making her the manager of this place. She was in charge of all weapons for the Gods and to take care of all the businesses that happened in there. She was wanted by Poseidon and Apollo but she asked Zeus to protect her saying that she wanted to keep her virginity for all eternity.
There are not many myths of Hestia, mostly because she rarely left Olympus in search for adventures, but it is know that she was the one who created the concept of “sanctuary” to protect everyone in need, and this became something sacred for all of her followers. Her most known story tells how once someone tried to rape her: one night she was sleeping and Priapus (a minor god, who’s best known for having an erection 24/7) took a chance and decided to take her by force. He waited for Hestia to go to sleep and hauled into her room. Just when he was about to get on her bed, a donkey started to bray, waking her up. She screamed when saw Priapus, making him flee in embarrassment
4. Apollo and Daphne
Daphne was a beautiful nymph and the daughter of the river god, Peneus. She longed to remain free and unmarried, and prayed to her father to help her remain so. Apollo was the God of sun, music and knowledge.
One day, he foolishly mocked Cupid for playing with bows and arrows – weapons which he believed should only be handled by experience warriors like himself. Cupid took revenge upon Apollo by striking him with one of his arrows the moment Apollo feasted his eyes upon the nubile and beautiful Daphne. This made him fall in love with her instantly. Apollo went into pursuit mode immediately, not realizing that he just fell in love with a girl who wanted to remain free forever. This was Cupid’s cruel revenge. Apollo chased after Daphne relentlessly. She teased him by flirting with him, only adding more fuel to his fire. One day, Apollo began running after Daphne and while running away, Daphne prayed to her father to turn her into a laurel tree. Just as Apollo caught up with her, her lower body began transforming into the bark and her arms into the branches. The story goes on to say that Apollo worshiped the laurel tree for the rest of his life.
This particular story is quite well known but it is one of my favorites. Makes me think on: you might brawl and scratch all you want to get something, but in the end some things are simply not meant to be. In how many facets of your life can you apply that?
5. Lakapati, the Hermaphrodite
Also known as Ikapati, is the god/dess of fertility, Protector of farm animals and crops, is also known as the one that gave agriculture to mankind. She/he is the Mother Goddess of the Tagalog, her name means “Giver of Food”. Her myth is quite simple and sweet: Bathala (the spouse) and Lakapati lived together on the heavens, but Bathala felt that something was missing in his life. Feeling this, the goddess decided to create something to make him happy so she/he took clay and banana blossom to create a ball, and gave it to Bathala. He was happy working and shaping the ball, creating rivers and mountains and when Bathala finished it, Lakapati was so happy for his job that she put the ball of clay on the sky.
Isn’t it nice when things end happily?
6. Mayari, the Moon Goddess
One very unfortunate day, Bathala (the supreme being and the omnipotent creator of the Universe, in case you didn’t know) died. His family noticed the old and wise king of the gods did not leave a will and, as siblings they were, Mayari and Apolaki wanted to rule the Earth on their father’s place. However, while Apolaki wanted to rule by himself, Mayari wanted equal rights and so they started a fight using bamboo clubs. During the fight Apolaki hit Mayari on the face, making her lose one of her eyes. When Apolaki saw what he had done, asked her for forgiveness and agreed that they both should rule together, but at different times, so he would do it at day and she would rule at night.
Just in case you have ever wondered why the moon’s light is dimmer than the sun’s.
7. The Bakuba Creation
This myth says that darkness was over the earth which was nothing but water and Mbombo, The White Giant, ruled over this chaos. One day he felt a terrible pain in his stomach and vomited the sun, the moon and the stars. The sun shone fiercely and the water steamed up in clouds, creating dry land. Mbombo felt sick one more time, vomiting again, this time trees came out of his stomach, also came animals, people, the first man and woman, the leopard, the eagle, the falling star, the anvil, the monkey Fumu, the firmament, medicine, lightning and many other things.
Yes, he vomited everything. Can’t help but wonder what he ate…
8. Morrigan, the Shape-shifter
She’s believed to be the goddess of death, strife, battle and incarnation. She is associated with life and death, female energy, night, revenge, prophecy and magic. It is said that she was part of a trio of powerful goddesses, but for all we know she might as well be three people in one. Morrigan could transform in an old lady, a crow, a horse, a wolf, a banshee and a falcon.
Her most recognized myth is as following: the goddess fell in love with a warrior named Cu Chuliann, and she tried to use her powers to draw Cu’s inner strength. The first time she appeared to Cu Chulainn, she took the shape of a bull and asked him to flee, but he didn’t do it and keep going his way. Again she appeared to the warrior, but this time as an eel, and tried to make him trip, to get more time and use her magic on him but failed. One more time she changed her shape, this time taking the form of a wolf and scared the cattle to make him stop, but the goddess was unsuccessful. Finally, she took the shape of an old woman that was milking a cow, and it was that finally Cu Chuliann recognize her. Morrigan then gave the warrior three drinks of milk, making him stronger. One day however, Cu Chulainn was riding his horse by the river, when he found Morrigan washing his armor -which was consider a death omen. During the battle, Cu was wounded really bad, and when he was about to die, he tied himself on a stone to die in an upright position. At a given moment, a crow landed on his shoulder and so everyone knew he died.
Maybe she was destined to have him only within her realm… #thingswedoforlove
9. The Rainbow Crow
Snow fell constantly, and ice formed over all the waters. The little animals were being buried in the snow drifts and the larger animals could hardly walk because the snow was so deep. Soon, all would perish if something were not done. They decided a messenger was to go meet with Kijiamuh Ka’ong, the Creator Who Creates By Thinking What Will Be in Heaven and plead for the snow spirit to leave them in peace. But who? The Wise Owl could not see well during the daylight, so he could not go. Coyote was easily distracted and like playing tricks, so he could not be trusted. Turtle was steady and stable, but he crawled too slowly. Finally, Rainbow Crow, the most beautiful of all the birds with shimmering feathers of rainbow hues and an enchanting singing voice, was chosen.
It was an arduous journey, three days up and up into the heavens, passed the trees and clouds, beyond the sun and the moon, and even above all the stars. He was buffeted by winds and had no place to rest, but he carried on bravely until he reached Heaven. When Rainbow Crow reached the Holy Place, he called out to the Creator, but received no answer. The Creator was too busy thinking up what would be to notice even the most beautiful of birds. So Rainbow Crow began to sing his most beautiful song and the Creator was drawn from his thoughts by the lovely sound. He greeted Rainbow Crow kindly and asked what gift he could give the noble bird in exchange for his song. Rainbow Crow asked the Creator to un-think the snow, so that the animals of Earth would not be buried and freeze to death. But the Creator told Rainbow Crow that the snow and the ice had spirits of their own and could not be destroyed. “What shall we do then?” asked the Rainbow Crow. “We will all freeze or smother under the snow.”
“You will not freeze” The Creator then stuck a stick into the blazing hot sun. The end blazed with a bright, glowing fire which burned and gave off heat. “This is Fire” he told Rainbow Crow, handing him the cool end of the stick. “You must hurry to Earth as fast as you can fly before the stick burns up.”
Rainbow Crow nodded his thanks to the Creator and flew as fast as he could go. The stick was large and heavy, but the fire kept Rainbow Crow warm as he descended from Heaven down to the bright path of the stars. Then the Fire grew hot as it came closer to Rainbow Crows’ feathers. As he flew passed the Sun, his tail caught on fire, turning the shimmering beautiful feathers black. By the time he flew passed the Moon, his whole body was black with soot from the hot Fire. When he plunged into the Sky and flew through the clouds, the smoke got into his throat, strangling his beautiful singing voice. By the time Rainbow Crow landed among the freezing-cold animals of Earth, he was black as tar and could only caw instead of sing. He delivered the fire to the animals, and they melted the snow and warmed themselves, rescuing the littlest animals from the snow drifts where they lay buried. It was a time of rejoicing, for Tindeh – Fire – had come to Earth. But Rainbow Crow sat apart, saddened by his dull, ugly feathers and his rasping voice. Then he felt the touch of wind on his face, he looked up and saw the Creator Who Creates By Thinking What Will Be walking toward him.
“Do not be sad, Rainbow Crow,” the Creator said. “All animals will honor you for the sacrifice you made for them. And when the people come, they will not hunt you, for I have made your flesh taste of smoke so that it is no good to eat and your black feathers and hoarse voice will prevent man from putting you into a cage to sing for him. You will be free.” Then the Creator pointed to Rainbow Crow’s black feathers. Before his eyes, Rainbow Crow saw the dull feathers become shiny and inside each one, he could see all the colors of the rainbow. “This will remind everyone who sees you of the service you have been to your people,” he said “and the sacrifice you made that saved them all.”
I know it’s very long, but crows are my favorite birds… For the original post, please visit this page.
10. Saint Valentine
I know, this tale is also widely known, but February 14 is at the corner and I couldn’t just leave it out. What? I’m a romantic.
The origin of Valentines day goes all the way back to the days of the Roman Empire, when Emperor Claudius II was the ruler. In an attempt to have more soldiers for his army, he tried to recruit every man possible, but when he saw that the men refused to leave their wives and family, he decided that all marriages should be forbidden. But there was a priest who was loved in Rome by everyone, who thought it was unfair for young lovers not get married and share their life with the person they love. The name of the priest was Valentine, and he started to marry couples in secret. When Claudius II found out about the secret marriages, was furious and ordered that Valentine should be put in jail, where he spent the rest of his life. When he died his friends recovered his body and buried it on a churchyard in Rome.
It is believed that he died on February 14th. To honor him the Pope Gelasius set aside this date, but it was King Henry VIII who declared the day officially a holiday in 1537.
For more myths, feel free to click here. Thanks for reading!
Featured photo credit: pixabay.com via pixabay.com
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