Portal:Mythology
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Portal:Mythology

The Myths Portal

1929 Belgian banknote, depicting Ceres, Neptune and caduceus

Myth is a folklore genre consisting of narratives that play a fundamental role in a society, such as foundational tales or origin myths. The main characters in myths are usually non-humans, such as gods, demigods, and other supernatural figures. However, others also include humans, animals, or combinations in their classificiation of myth. Stories of everyday human beings, although often of leaders of some type, are usually contained in legends, as opposed to myths. Myths are sometimes distinguished from legends in that myths deal with gods, usually have no historical basis, and are set in a world of the remote past, very different from that of the present.

Myths are often endorsed by rulers and priests or priestesses and are closely linked to religion or spirituality. Many societies group their myths, legends, and history together, considering myths and legends to be true accounts of their remote past. In particular, creation myths take place in a primordial age when the world had not achieved its later form. Other myths explain how a society's customs, institutions, and taboos were established and sanctified. There is a complex relationship between recital of myths and the enactment of rituals.

The term mythology may either refer to the study of myths in general, or a body of myths regarding a particular subject. The study of myth began in ancient history. Rival classes of the Greek myths by Euhemerus, Plato, and Sallustius were developed by the Neoplatonists and later revived by Renaissance mythographers. Today, the study of myth continues in a wide variety of academic fields, including folklore studies, philology, psychology, and anthropology. Moreover, the academic comparisons of bodies of myth are known as comparative mythology.

Since the term myth is widely used to imply that a story is not objectively true, the identification of a narrative as a myth can be highly controversial: many adherents of religions view their own religion's stories as true, and therefore object to those stories being characterized as myths, while seeing the stories of other religions as being myth. As such, some scholars label all religious narratives as myths for practical reasons, such as to avoid depreciating any one tradition because cultures interpret each other differently relative to one another. Other scholars avoid using the term "myth" altogether and instead utilize different terms like "sacred history", "holy story", or simply "history" to avoid placing pejorative overtones on any sacred narrative. (Full article...)

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Bhikshatana (Sanskrit: ; Bhikana; literally, "wandering about for alms, mendicancy") or Bhikshatana-murti (Bhikanam?rti) is an aspect of the Hindu god Shiva as the "Supreme mendicant" or the "Supreme Beggar". Bhikshtana is depicted as a nude four-armed man adorned with ornaments who holds a begging bowl in his hand and is followed by demonic attendants and love-sick women.

Bhikshatana is considered a gentler form of Shiva's fierce aspect Bhairava and a gentle phase between Bhairava's two gruesome forms, one of which decapitates one head of the four headed god Brahma and the other of which kills the god Vishnu's gatekeeper. Bhikshatana is the form of Bhairava that Shiva assumes to atone for his sin of severing Brahma's fifth head. He wanders the universe in the form of a naked Kapali mendicant, begging for alms with Brahma's kapala (skullcup) as his begging bowl, until his sin is expiated upon reaching the holy city of Varanasi. (Full article...)

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Chamunda

  • ...that Chamunda (pictured), a fearsome aspect of the Hindu Divine Mother, was worshipped by ritual human and animal sacrifices along with offerings of wine?
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The Vampire, by Philip Burne-Jones, 1897

A vampire is a creature from folklore that subsists by feeding on the vital essence (generally in the form of blood) of the living. In European folklore, vampires are undead creatures that often visited loved ones and caused mischief or deaths in the neighbourhoods they inhabited while they were alive. They wore shrouds and were often described as bloated and of ruddy or dark countenance, markedly different from today's gaunt, pale vampire which dates from the early 19th century.

Vampiric entities have been recorded in most cultures; the term vampire was popularized in Western Europe after reports of an 18th-century mass hysteria of a pre-existing folk belief in the Balkans and Eastern Europe that in some cases resulted in corpses being staked and people being accused of vampirism. Local variants in Eastern Europe were also known by different names, such as shtriga in Albania, vrykolakas in Greece and strigoi in Romania. (Full article...)

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