Category Archives: Mythology

Mythology World Tour: The Lozi

The Fantasy Genre has long been dominated by the religions and customs of countries touched on by the Crusades. While this makes sense, with the familiar image of a knight wandering foreign lands being key to the genre itself, there has been stagnation in recent times. As such, I’ve taken it upon myself to look into the cultures of the world and find fascinating details about other mythologies often overlooked by the genre we so love, going on a bit of a tour of world mythologies.

Long controlling the land in the floodplains of the Zambezi river, the Lozi people are a group with close ties to the religions of the religions of West Africa. Many of their beliefs, some of the creatures, and several of their stories are shared with those living north west of them, and they even share some of the same gods. In fact, because of these traits, the most defining element of Lozi mythology is that their stories focus less on the actual creation of the world and more on how it is that their creator god (either directly or indirectly) founded their nation in their ancestral homelands.

Why would this be the focus of their unique tales? Well it’s because their creator god is Nyambe, also known as Nyame, the god of the Akan and Ashanti – and the story of the Lozi is the story of how he led them to their home by the river. More accurately, the story of the Lozi is how Nyambe fled to the river in an attempt to escape his most dreaded creation…. man. Continue reading Mythology World Tour: The Lozi

Mythology Monday – Garlic

Walking through a dark and creepy part of town, near the woods and under the shadow of the house no one goes to, you feel a great tension. Rumors have churned for as long as you’ve known about who lives in that place and you can only imagine the sort of things going on inside. Though you’ve never been afraid of it in the daylight, the sight of it at night is a whole other story.. And that feeling, deep in your gut, just won’t go away.

And then you hear the rustle of bushes.

eyes bushes

Your heart races and you start running before you’ve even had a chance to think it through. You have no idea what is behind you, but you’re certain that it came from that dreaded house. To your horror, it even feels like whatever was in the bushes is now following you, making no sound of footfalls but still practically breathing down your neck. To your shock, suddenly a well dressed man emerges from hedges directly in your path. Screaming, you reach into your pocket and take out something you kept for just such an occasion: a clove of garlic!


Wait, clove of garlic? What? Did… did you keep garlic in your pocket? Why would you…

Continue reading Mythology Monday – Garlic

History of the Holidays: Mistletoe

Ah, the holidays, a time when we do things we don’t quite understand because we’ve decided they just have to be done. Hanging stockings over a fireplace? Sure, why not. Leaving cookies out for an invisible fat man? Hey, we’ve done stranger. Kissing under a poisonous plant because someone decided to hang it?

Why the hell do we do that?

The truth is, no one really knows the true origin of the tradition of kissing under the mistletoe. It’s one of those ancient traditions where it’s been around so long that it didn’t really get written down. However, what is known is that mistletoe was an important figure to the older Celtic cultures such as the Druids and the Norse. As many traditions around Christmas are derived from those celebrated during the Norse Yule, it would be safe to assume that there would be a link. And when you know Mistletoe’s place in Norse mythology, you realize the reason we’re supposed to kiss under it is simple…

It’s guilty of murder.

Continue reading History of the Holidays: Mistletoe

History Of The Holidays: Hanukkah

The Holiday Season, a time when multiple religions and cultures come together to say “it’s too damn cold, we need to distract ourselves.” From the most ancient times to the modern day, everyone finds a reason to feast, celebrate, and sit close to fires of one form or another in the dead of winter. Since civilization itself was formed, we’ve found reasons to be happy at a time when the world tends to be pretty bleak. And don’t let the angry people on TV fool you, that’s the reason we say “Happy Holidays” instead of just Merry Christmas – this time of year is full of them.

But we often don’t know too much about the Holidays that are happening around us besides Christmas. Even there, as I’ve discussed in the past, we aren’t too clear on all the details. Why do we care about mistletoe? What exactly is Kwanzaa? Why are the Jewish people lighting a Menorah for 8 nights? Honestly, most of us only have passing understanding of any of these.

So today (and the next couple weeks), I intend to tackle one of these as a bit of a Mythology Monday, Alternative Mythologies, and general history mashup. ‘Tis the season, after all, and I intend to at least give it the nod. As of this writing those Menorahs are about to get lit, so it’s only fitting that I start with the ancient (but only recently important) festival of lights… Continue reading History Of The Holidays: Hanukkah

Alterpedia: Cucuy

In the Alters’ World (and the series of books found here), creatures of legend reveal themselves to the world. Born through genetic abnormalities, defects and mutations, the Alters have lived for centuries as outcasts of human society, hiding their true nature from the world while colorful stories have been written by many to describe what they’ve seen. How are these creatures different from what was described in the stories? What relationship do they have with humanity? Every entry of the Alterpedia will delve into a new creature from around the world. This week we cover:

El Cucuy

cucuy 2

It was a dark and stormy night. The world was shrouded in black, save for the flickering of candles and the brilliant display of the storm above. Thunder rolled endlessly over a small town in the middle of a desert as people screamed into the dead of night, yelling at each other over the wailing wind and the growling clouds above. And one lone man stood under that sky, watching for signs of rain and realizing the horrible truth of the fate that had befallen them:

I was probably not going to be able to update my blog on Friday since my power was out all of Thursday night.

But another terrible thing was becoming apparent as the dark night grew long. Long raised around the culture of Mexican immigrants, this lone figure knew, deep down, that something else was brewing in those shadows. The stories had been passed in whispers for years, murmured through elementary school classrooms. A single name was spoken in hushed tones, the name of something which lurked in the shadowy corners of the world. It was clear, the longer the lights were gone, that a child in the city was under a looming threat. Someone was being watched that night, from the deepest shadows, by the Cucuy… Continue reading Alterpedia: Cucuy

Mythology World Tour: The Bantu

The Fantasy Genre has long been dominated by the religions and customs of countries touched on by the Crusades. While this makes sense, with the familiar image of a knight wandering foreign lands being key to the genre itself, there has been stagnation in recent times. As such, I’ve taken it upon myself to look into the cultures of the world and find fascinating details about other mythologies often overlooked by the genre we so love, going on a bit of a tour of world mythologies.

When we last left off, I talked about how Central Africa was home to a variety of cultures that had managed to beat back the wilderness thriving in the heart of the continent. Though details are scant few now, the fact remained that they were still at one time thriving in one of the harshest environments possible. So one would have to ask why these cultures, despite surviving the jungles, would start to disappear over time. During my research, it was difficult to find sources, articles, or even details on the cultures of the Congo. Somehow, they’d slowly disappeared and all signs pointed one direction: The Bantu.

The Bantu people of Central and East Africa, a collection of several smaller groups united by culture and parts of their language, are among the most prosperous of the region. And, as they continued to grow, they gradually started to become the dominant culture in the area. Several smaller religions in the region are generally variations of Bantu and those that are not were eventually phased out in favor of the more prevalent Bantu beliefs. In essence, while these smaller cultures survived the Congo, the Bantu did it better. And, the thing is, their impacts are felt even in the west, where inspirations from Bantu belief eventually bled into the African culture that did reach us on this side of the world.

Through stories which were propagated through much of the south and even eventually adapted by Disney, we’ve come to know of the Bantu indirectly through the stories of “Uncle Remus” and tales of the Brer Rabbit. This figure, which also adopts traits and stories from Anansi and a few Native American tales, happened to be heavily influenced by the Hare of Bantu mythology, making Hare one of the two best known figures of Sub-Saharan mythology in the west. And so, today, let’s take a look at where Hare (and thus Brer) came from. Continue reading Mythology World Tour: The Bantu

Mythology Monday: The Power of Salt

Some time ago I wrote about Holy Water and the origins of the belief that water itself could be sacred. But as I did, I left out a little something in the equation. You see, after saying a prayer over it for God’s blessing, priests  mix a newly blessed substance into the water to give it some extra holy kick – salt.

It’s not that unheard of, everyone knows that you’re not supposed to spill salt and, if you do, you toss it over your shoulder. You can also count on salt to drive out evil spirits and drive away demons. And, hell, anyone who’s watched Supernatural knows that the real story is how the Winchesters are funding salt mines around the world almost single-handedly.


Seriously, they use it almost every episode – pouring it across doors, making big circles of it, or even loading it into their guns. Salt is, according to some, the catch-all for banishing evil forces. Salt has been used to drive out witches, ghosts, the undead, and even the devil himself. It has been used to bless infants during baptisms, as an allegory for the good people of the Earth, and even used in some funeral rites. Recognized around the world, salt is, by all religious accounts, one of the best things to exist on the Earth.

And here doctors are telling us to cut back… Continue reading Mythology Monday: The Power of Salt

Public Enemy #1

As some of you may know, I live in the San Joaquin Valley area of California, the heart of the drought situation and, as of the last few months, potential new location for future depictions of Mordor. With growing drought concerns, our ground sinking two inches every month as the water table vanishes, and forest fires frequently dotting the nearby national parks – we are literally becoming a flaming pit. Having grown up in this region, I’m used to not liking the climate around here, but even I have my limits.

Yeah, that’d be it

The recent air quality concerns have grown so severe that I can’t remember the last time I woke up feeling healthy by any measure. Currently I’m kept alive only by caffeine, generic Benadryl, and that spell they used in Weekend At Bernie’s 2. Should the music stop playing, I will go dead weight and collapse where I stand. It’s not a great life, but hey, at least I’m useful.


But the worsening conditions have made me think long and hard about what’s been happening to our world as of late and I’ve come to a conclusion. It may not be popular with everyone, I know a lot of people out there aren’t going to believe me when I say it. But I’m willing to make my case and hope that someone out there will listen. You see, I think it’s time we seriously start talking about… Continue reading Public Enemy #1

Mythology Monday: Lucky Horseshoes

Lucky charms, they’re magically delicious, but also a little confusing. Generally the damn things don’t make any sense and most of them are powered by belief in bullshit. But bullshit has a source, like a lake feeding a river… of bullshit. After all, there has to be some sort of origin to these things or it becomes fairly easy to poke holes in the “logic”. Rabbit feet aren’t too lucky to the rabbit that lost them. And if pennies you pick up really were going to give you good luck for the rest of the day, there are a lot of old people who should be millionaires.


But some charms aren’t just good luck, having entire rituals around them that don’t make a whole lot of sense either. The horseshoe is a great example of this, not only being considered good luck but having contradicting and specific methods of using it. If you turn it one direction it’s supposed to do one thing, the other direction and it does another, you can even use the horseshoe wrong in some cultures and have it work against you instead of for you. And that all leads to one very important question…

What the hell is up with the horseshoes? Continue reading Mythology Monday: Lucky Horseshoes

Mythology World Tour: Creatures of Central Africa

The Fantasy Genre has long been dominated by the religions and customs of countries touched on by the Crusades. While this makes sense, with the familiar image of a knight wandering foreign lands being key to the genre itself, there has been stagnation in recent times. As such, I’ve taken it upon myself to look into the cultures of the world and find fascinating details about other mythologies often overlooked by the genre we so love, going on a bit of a tour of world mythologies.

When we were last in Central Africa, I devoted a bit of time to some of the creation myths of the region. But once the world came into being, the reality of where they lived was sure to set in. As noted a couple times before and only half in jest, nature is the real master of Central Africa and Humans have really only found ways to out-maneuver it.

And, because mythology is often crafted by the things people are afraid of or have to explain to themselves over time, it was inevitable that a place with one of the greatest rain forests on the planet would give rise to stories of cryptids and beasts lurking in the darkness. In a place where you could easily be lost in the wilderness or attacked by creatures in the dead of the night, it is no surprise that one of the gods of death of the region, Tore, is known to take the form of a leopard to personally attack.

In fact, most creatures in the region have at least one of three traits: they’re either big, shapeshifters, or hungry… go figure. Continue reading Mythology World Tour: Creatures of Central Africa