Mythology in the World
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Mythology.How did the world begin? Have you ever wondered this most likely yes. Everyone has been asking this question for millions of years. The explanation of this is called Mythology. By looking at What Mythology is, the categories of Mythology, the regions of major myths, some of the key players of myths, and finally the similarities of the cultures. With that I will start my paper and by the end of it you will have a more in depth knowledge of
Mythology meaning the study of Myths. Myth comes form the Greek word Mythos meaning speech or discourse later meaning fable. Myth is defined as a story of forgotten origin, it is religious or supernatural. It seeks to explain the creation of the universe, everyday phenomena and everything in it. The different regions of the world all have a different story and set of characters they use to explain this. Now that you know what exactly what mythology is we will look at the different categories of mythology.
The different categories of mythology are explanatory myths and adventure myths. Explanatory myth will break down into smaller sub divisions called Cosmogony, nature myths, and eschatological myths. Explanatory myths these are myths that nature or certain events and customs of different cultures. Cosmogony is a big word for creation myths. Creation myths explain the origin of the universe. They use primal gods and animals to tell the story. There are different types of creation myths as well. The first is the single stage creation where a god existed ex nihilo. Which means a god existed in a vast space and created the universe out of nothing. The other is multi stage creation. In this the universe is created by one god. His children then continue to create the rest of the world. Nature myths have to do with animals and everyday phenomena like the rising and setting of the sun. The last explanatory myth is eschatological. This tells how death and other bad things came into the world and how the world is going to end. The next category of mythology is adventure myths. These are myths that involve humans. These are stories of major events in history that parts have been embellished or forgotten and made up. Now that you know the different categories of mythology we will look at the different regions where the stories came from.
The different regions of mythology are Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, and Oceania.
Each of these has several smaller sub divisions. First lets look at Africa and its major myths. Africa is a very large continent with lots of regions and tribes. There are two different myth systems in Africa. Those of the tribes and those of the Egyptians. African tribal creator gods follow a common characteristic. All the gods are greatly dissatisfied with their creations. Humans are mostly left to defend for themselves. Many of the myths are centered around attempts at regaining contact with the gods. Lesser gods and nature spirits are the only ones interested in the daily life of the humans. There is a surprising innocence to the gods. They believe the best in there human creations and are eventually very disappointed in them. The Egyptian gods are extremely different from the tribal gods. The Egyptian gods had heads of the local animal life with the bodies of humans. The most worshiped god through out Egypt was Ra the sun god. The pharaoh was seen as heir to this god. One sacred aspect of Egyptian life was death. Egyptians had an amazing burial system that involved embalming or mummification. They also had many rituals and ceremonies that went with the burial process to ensure safe travel to the afterlife. The guardian of the dead was the cat who was a very sacred animal to the Egyptians. Now lets look at the Americas. The Americas are also very large and had different tribes living within it. First we will look at Haitian mythology. This belief system does not date back as far as the other myths would. This is because it is a mixture of several different belief systems. It’s roots come from Africa and the voodoo practices. But it is greatly influenced by the Roman Catholic Church and the Indians that lived on the islands. In there system they have one god. But this god doesn’t really have much to do with the people. So they ask for help from lower spirits and saints. Much of their ceremonial rituals involve dancing and singing. These ceremonies are led by Gangan the shaman of the tribe and also the Hungan and Mambo who are the priest and priestesses of the tribe. Next lets look at the Aztec Indians from Mexico. The Aztec had a very unique creation story. They have one god named Quetzalcoatl who takes on different forms throughout the myths. His true form is that of a feathered serpent but he rarely ever appears like this. Quetzalcoatl with his brother created the earth. This is one of the main points that really separates Aztec myth from others. Quetzalcoatl was given the task of creating man and woman. He did this by pouring his blood on the bones and ashes of previous humans. Aztec’s believed that the world went series of deaths and rebirths called suns. Each sun would last for a period of time and then be destroyed. This is how he had bones of humans before they existed. Quetzalcotal is also seen as the wind. Wind can be playful or very destructive. Wind is also powerful. When referring to him as the wind he is called nine wind. Most of the time he appears as the High Priest named Topiltzin. In this form he is depicted in human form. He is fair skinned and had a beard to represent wisdom and age. He cared much about the people and didn’t want them to make human sacrifices to the gods. They were to give their own blood or the blood of animals. At the end of this myth Topiltzin is chased away by the other priests. He runs to the ocean and goes east. He tells the people that he will return to them in the year of the morning star. For these reasons that is why Cortez was seen as their god returned to them. Many Historians also believe that the myth started from an early Christian Missionary. Now that we have covered the Aztec people of Mexico we will turn to the Native Americans in North America. Native Americans passed there myths on orally from one generation to the next. They never wrote them down because they didn’t have a form of writing. They did however have pictures to help tell the stories. Native Americans worshiped a very powerful god called the “Master Spirit”. They also served a group of lesser spirits who served under the first. Also they had an evil spirit who dealt with death, and disaster. The also believed in guardian spirits which were animals, each person had their own guardian. They also believed in life after death which would have all the good things from life pleasant and safe. Indians hoped to make the spirits happy by special dances, prayers, and sacrifices. At times when the whole community was involved they called upon the help of a Shaman. This was a priest or priestess whom they believed could talk to the spirits through visions. They also believed that the Shaman could predict the future effect the weather, cure or cause disease, and translate dreams. Now lets move on to Asia. Asia like all the other continents is very large. Again with people spread out and developing their own religious teachings. First we will look at the Hindus to the western part of the country. Hindus have three main gods called the Trimurti. The three gods are Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver of cosmic order, and Shiva the destroyer. There is also three main goddesses that the people worship. Sarasvati goddess of arts, knowledge and creativity. She was almost the wife of Brahma. He married another and she cursed him to only be worshiped once a year. Lakshmi is the goddess of wealth, fortune, beauty, pleasure, and prosperity. She is the wife of Vishnu and the most popular of all the goddesses. Devi the mountain goddess, and black earth mother. She is the wife of Shiva. When it comes down to the way they practice their faith it is more a philosophy than a doctrine. They have no clergy. The core of Hinduism lies between dharma and moksha. Dharma is performing ones social duty. Moksha is release from the material world and freedom from the endless cycles of rebirth. Other important terms of their beliefs are. Karma which is your deeds from your past life determine your present situation. And samsara is rebirth according to your karma. Last is BRAHMAN this is with all caps and is completely different from the god. BRAHMAN is our spirit. When this age ends this is what we are left with. BRAHMAN is one, limitless, impersonal, indefinable, without qualities, eternal, and unchanging. Thus it no longer needs to act. They also believe in four ages of time. The first and second is when all of the history of the gods took place. They believe that we are living in the fourth. In each age there is a loss in dharma. They symbolize this as a table. In the first age dharma had four legs. Now in this age it only has one so in this age it is at it’s worst. At the end of this age everyone will achieve moksha. Lets now move farther east to the Chinese. Quetzalcoatl who at
The three major creation stories of African tribes are as follows. Loren is the highest god in the hierarchy. Under him is the Orisha this is a collection of smaller gods. In the beginning Olorun came up with a master plan to create the earth. He of course did not want to actually make it so he gave the job to Obatala. Olorun gave Obatala the blueprints with in depth instruction and supplies. The supplies consisted of a chain, a five toed chicken and a hand full of mud. Obatala immediately went out to create the earth. On his way he ran into a party that the other gods were having. Unfortunately Obatala got drunk and forgot about his mission. So Obatalas jealous brother Oduduwa the supplies and set out to create the earth. Oduduwa used the chain to climb down to the sea. He tossed the mud into it and then set the chicken down on it. The chicken then started to scratch at the mud and spread it out creating the earth. Olorun was pleased with Oduduwas work. Obatala was then punished and made to create mankind. While he did this he was still drunk this explains all the problems mankind has. Some time after this there was a power struggle between Olorun and the Orisha. The Orisha asked him to give up his throne for sixteen years. Olorun of course refused but was nice and agreed for sixteen days. All the Orisha needed was eight days though. They had already managed to cause total chaos and put the world at a stand still. The Orisha then had to confess and ask for pardon. Olorun then took control again returned the world to normal and the Orisha were completely loyal to him ever since. The next myth is about Abassi and his wife Atai. Abassi is the god of the sky. Him and his wife created man and women and introduced them into the world. Man and woman quickly discovered sex and eventually over populated the earth. Atai had a solution for the problem. She gave man and women two gifts argument and death. This then solved the over population problem. The last creation story is about the god Bumba. Bumba is the god of vomit. Bumba lived in the universe all alone. This made him very sick because he was so lonely. So one day when he was feeling very nauseous he hurled up the sun. Following this was the moon, stars, and the earth. Last he hurled up nine animals a variety of humans and a pile of carrots. After this he laid back and rested he was finally content.