World Mythology

Myths are not folktales, their purpose is not to entertain but to put the individual and collective psyche in accord with the world around it. Joseph Campbell said that dreams are the personal myth and myth, the collective dream. When such tales, or rituals (myth enacted) fail to function properly they become myths in the sense of being false or incorrect. Such are the power of myths though, that even after the best information of the day shows the literal interpretation of a myth to be foolish; the myths, usually through ritual, can continue to exercise their influence on both the popular and educated mind.

In his master work, the Masks of God I~IV, Campbell not only traces the evolving response of the human psyche, through mythology, to its environment down through the ages in all the main cultures of the world, but also attempts to establish mythology itself on a scientific footing. In this section we will attempt to assemble reasonably complete and representative myths that have a decent narrative thrust and will also try to assign markers to these in order to give them a context. Mythology is a function of the human psyche, and as such, like the field of anthropology itself, straddles the domains of the aesthetic and the scientific. On this page we will present our myths randomly with a nod towards the aesthetic. To sort and search myths more precisely by their different markers.

Title Overview
Hymn to Demeter ( Greek ) Tale of how Persephone is abducted by Hades. And how her grieving mother Demeter arrives at Eleusis and initiates the Eleusian Mysteries.
A married woman's festival, the Thesmophoria, was celebrated in many Greek cities for three days in late autumn and gives ritual form to the myth.
The Buffalo Wife ( Native American ) Joseph Campbell referred to this myth frequently in his works and lectures as an excellent example of the covenant between a hunting tribe and the Animal Master of the animals they hunt. While the braves/hunters of the tribe are the custodians of the ritual. It is noteworthy that it was the girl who was actually responsible for bringing her father back to life.
Cnogba [Knowth] ( Celtic ) Explanation of the origin of the place name Knowth, one of the great tumuli at Newgrange, Co.Louth,Ireland whose long passages are orientated with sunrise and sunset during the equinoxes.
In the Beginning ( Maori ) A poetic account of creation. Of interest is the reference to remembrance as if to suggest the notion that all this has happened before and that it was good!
The Coming of the Ifa Oracle ( Yoruba ) Every morning a practitioner uses his Ifa board covered in white powder to cast oracles. This usually involves casting sixteen palm kernels and interpreting various meanings from how they come to rest. The priest draws lines in the powder based on the readings. The initial stage of initiation takes three years after which a person becomes a babalavo, father of the secret. Beyond this it is possible to progress to higher grades of initiation such as aro, odofin and oluvo.
Battle of Moytirra III - The Fomorians and the Tuatha de Danann Fight ( Celtic ) In this decisive battle the Fomorians are driven back to their undersea abode and the gods and goddesses, the names of which much of the landscape is still associated, now take up residence.
Descent of Inanna ( Sumerian ) Gugalanna (Taurus) is dead. Inanna descends into the underworld realm of his consort and her sister, Ereshkigal, where she remains dead for three days until, by the intercession of her father Enki, she returns triumphant to the upper world. Subsequently her husband, Dumuzi, will be obliged to spend the arid part of the year with Ereshkigal when, during the Sumerian period, the sun used rise in and obscure the constellation Taurus.
Battle of Moytirra I - The arrival of Lugh ( Celtic ) The arrival of the Sun God, Lugh, and the preparation of the Tuatha de Danann for war against the Fomorian sea peoples.
The Death of Fraoch ( Celtic ) Fraoch on his second visit across a pond to a Rowan tree to collect fruit for Queen Medb rips the tree up by its roots and so disturbs the monster coiled beneath.
Maui Seeks Immortality ( Maori ) Against the warnings of his father, Maui the irrepressible trickster-hero of Polynesia sets out on a final adventure to overcome Hine-nui-te-p? the guardian of death who abides on the horizon where the sun sets.
The Sun, Old Woman and Naiyenezgani ( Native American ) The has much of the shifting nature of a dream, and shows the close relationship between dream and myth. It has been edited to help give some clarity to confusing references, those with an interest in pscyhology may prefer refer to the original.
The Twin Heros ( Native American ) This tale continues the genesis story started in The Woman who fell from the Sky. It begins with the birth of antagonistic twins called Sapling and Flint whose names already suggest their natures. Curiously it is the discarded twin, Sapling, that creates all that is good and the troublesome twin, Flint, who dupes his grandmother, and wreaks havoc in his attempts to imitate and thwart his brother. Flint's defeated carcass is still visible inthe mountain ranges, his inimical nature still lives on in the icy grip of winter.
Perseus the Hero ( Greek ) After the god-blessed but dangerous adventure of killing Medusa, Perseus riding Pegasus happens upon Andromeda chained to a rock off the coast of Aethiopia. Yet this almost incidental adventure is immortalised by the constellations of Cepheus, Cassiopiae, Andromeda, Cetus, Pegasus and Perseus - suggesting this mythologem was originally of more significance.
Kulluballi: The First Hunter ( African ) This myth relates to a tribe of hunters who had completely disappeared by the time of Leo Frobenius's trip to West Africa. It is shows the ambivalence of the hunter towards the lion with a initiation ritual sacrifice associated with the sexual organs and the ritualised covenant with the antelope.
The Destruction of Kush ( African ) The German explorer, Leo Froebenius, collected this tale in 1912 in the market place of Al-Ubayyid in North Kurdufan. It was recounted by Arach-ben-Hassul from the Province of Darfur. To any student of anthropology,or archaeology, the details throw light on rituals and habits that have been found from Ireland to North America. The first dynasties of Egypt and the Royal Tombs of Ur would be related to this culture stratum.
Serpent, Cooking and Staples ( Melanesian ) Civilised by a serpent. What will the neighbours say?
The Creator and the Tahu Tree ( Mbuti (pygmy) ) The Creator tells the first man that he may eat of all the fruits in the forest except that of the Tahu tree...
Mantis steals fire from the Ostrich ( African ) This tale was collected by Laurens Van der Post in his travels into the Kalahari Desert in 1957 and this tale supplements the tales found in books by Wilhelm Bleek and Lucy Lloyd such as Specimans of Bushman Lore.
Boann I ( Celtic ) The birth of the River Boyne involves the goddess Boann breaking the taboo about visiting the Well of Segais, without the permission of Nechtan and his three cup bearers. The well is surrounded by nine hazel trees whose nuts invest the waters, and the salmon swimming there, with divine wisdom.
Oisín in Tír na nÓg ( Celtic ) Niamh is a persistent suitor for the heart of Oisín but he is at first put off by her having a pig's head.
The Voyage of Bran ( Celtic ) A woman places Bran in thrall to find the Land of Women by means of a silver branch bearing white blossom which when shaken produces music. After long voyaging Bran and company arrive but refuse to disembark, the woman throws a ball of yarn which sticks to Bran's palm and she pulls the ship to shore...
Unumbotte, first Man, Snake and the Tree ( African ) After creating the world, the creator was partial to the fruit of a particular tree which he forbade first Man to eat from...
The Woman who fell from the Sky ( Native American ) The first part of the tale is set in the mythological time before the earth was created and death and illness were unknown. The birth of a heroine, in breach of a sacred Iroquois taboo, heralds the arrival of death and illness but also sets in motion the dynamic which will lead to the creation of the earth.
The First King of Madzivoa Land ( African ) The Wadzivoa are ancestral spirits who live in the Dzivoa, the underwater spiritual realm from which everything is supposed to originate and to which it returns. The first ruler to come from the Dzivoa was called the Madzivoa. And here is his story.
Mapungubwe-Makoni ( African ) The moon man, Mwuetsi, is made by Maori (god). He is given the morning star, Massissi, as a mate and from this fairly chaste partnership are produced the grasses, bushes and trees. After two years Massissi is returned by Maori to the Dsivoa (underwater spirit world). After much pleading from Mwuetsi, the most-high then gifts him with the lusty Morongo, evening star, and between them they produce all the animals. However Morongo then takes up with a snake...
Birth of Eros ( Greek ) Karl Kerenyi in his Gods of the Greeks starts of with three separate Creation Myths. This little gem he associates with the woodland peoples of early Greece.
Dubad (Dowth) ( Celtic ) Explains the origin of the name of one of the great mounds at Brú na Bóinne.
The Origin of Corn - Obijbwe ( Native American ) Henry Rowe Schoolcraft during the 1820's collected this tale from the Obijwe relations of his wife in the Great Lakes region.
The Origin of the Coconut Tree ( Polynesian ) The uninhibited goddess, Hina, tiring of her underwave husband, Te Tuna, sets off to find a replacement. However, the overwave incarnations of the male principle shy clear of her call to erotic adventure, that is until she meets Maui, the wonderworker, who despite still living and taking instruction from his mother, appears to be man enough for the challenge...
Death of the Mambo ( African ) A bit grisly but gives some insight into ritual regicide in East Africa and it's relationship with the ever dying, ever resurrecting, moon-god and his faithful companion the planet venus.
The Story of Tuan Mac Cairill ( Celtic ) James Stephens gives an evocative and vivid account of the story of Tuan Mac Cairill who first arrives in Ireland with the earliest people. He subsequently bears witness to its early history shapeshifting alternatively into the form of a stag, a boar, a hawk and a salmon before being reborn again as a man. For the specialist John Carey's Scél Tuáin Meic Chairill version would be closer to the original form.
Tree of the Middle Place ( Aztec ) Quetzalcoatl and Macuil-xochitl create the world from the body of the goddess, Tlaltecuhtli. For such a painful birth however the goddess will only be appeased by the constant sacrifice of human blood...
Karora emerges from the IIbalintja Soak ( Australian Aborgrinal ) This tale feels very close to the earliest of humankind's conceptions of its beginnings with this tale of the first emergence from the sacred IIbalintja soak. The tale belongs to the Bandicoot Totem of the Northern Aranda.
Battle of Moytirra II - The Sons of Tuireann ( Celtic ) The Tuatha de Danann are preparing for war with the Fomorians. However, Lugh, the new king of the Danann is distracted by the murder of his father, Cian, by the sons of Tuireann. He sets them a near impossible blood-price that will further greatly his war preparations and will also ensure that his father's death is avenged.
The Great Serpent ( Polynesian ) Fire is brought from the belly of the Great Serpent.
The Geste of Fraoch ( Celtic ) Ostensibly the handsome Fraoch comes to woo, Findabair, the daughter of Aillil and Medb. Of mythological interest are the presence of a water monster, tree of life and salmon swallowing a ring of great value.
Hainuwele - Frond of the Cocopalm ( Polynesian ) A tale collected by Professor Adolf E Jensen on the island of West Seram which is derived from the former underlying cannibalistic culture-stratum of this tropical paradise.
The Enchanted Cave of Keshcorran ( Celtic ) Finn and the Fianna get into a bind with a trinity of hags who object to their hunting on their father's lands.
The Undying Head ( Native American ) The preeminent figure of the bear, the magical use of the head and the primordial male fear of menstrual blood, all suggested to Joseph Campbell that this tale might well trace its motifs all the way back to Paleolithic hunters.
Edshu and his Many Coloured Hat ( Yoruba ) The first missionaries took one look at Edshu and promptly categorised him a devil. Comparative Mythologists would classify him as a trickster god and the Yoruba people certainly see in him a personification of positive as well as negative powers.
The Humbling of Indra ( Hindu ) Inflated from his titanic victory over the cosmic serpent, Indra embarks on a refurbishing program of such extravagance that even the heavenly master craftsman, Vishvakarman, is driven to despair. He invokes the power of Brahma to aid him and soon a mysterious blue boy arrives at Indra's court.
The Myth of Balder ( Norse ) In response to his ominous dreams the goddess, Frigg, ensures that Odin's son, Balder, is protected from all potential sources of harm. The trickster god, Loki, discovers that mistletoe is the sole exception and plans mischief.
Word Sleuth:

*méh1-nōt or *meh1-n(è)s (PIE) - moon:-

The main word for moon derives from the verb, *méh1-, to measure and indicates a functional conception of the moon. The meaning of the reflexes may be moon or month or both.
i.e. Old Irish ; month; Latin mēnsis month; English moon, month; Lithuanian mënuo moon, month; Albanian muaj month;Greek mēn month; Armenian amis month; Avestan moon, month; Sanskrit mãs- moon, month and Tocharian B meñe moon, month.

Title: The Oxford Introduction to Proto-Indo-European (PIE) - Authors: J.P.Mallory and D.Q.Adams - Pub: Oxford Linguistics - ISBN: 978-0-19-929668-2