Questions tagged [origins]

For questions about the mythology and folklore behind the creation or existence of a being, object or idea.

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What is the origin of fortune-telling cards with faces divided into four triangles, which were known in Russia in 1850?

In her book Reading Russian Fortunes (Cambridge University Press, 1998), Faith Wigzell refers (p.33) to a type of fortune-telling card deck that reached Russia in 1850, ascribed to Marie Anne ...
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Prior to the 1800s are there any examples of a (preferably mortal) being described as possessing telekinetic abilities in the modern sense?

For the purposes of this question, by telekinesis I mean the generalized ability to pick up and move most objects at will, not the ability to move a particular object under specific circumstances (...
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Ancient prophecies involving alcohol?

Are there any ancient prophecies involving alcohol? I asked this question on Beer, Wine & Spirits SE some two years ago and have not received an answer: Prophecies involving alcohol? When we read ...
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2 answers
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Are there any references in mythology/folklore to a concept similar to teleportation?

The earliest mention of teleportation that I can find is a mention of "matter transfer" in 1877, but I'm wondering if there's a concept similar to it in folklore. I found something about ...
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3 votes
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The Phoenician Months MTN and P'LT

I'm doing some research into the names of the months in the Phoenician calendar. I have a theory that all but three of the names have ties to the Phoenician pagan practices, but don't have evidence ...
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Is there any folklore in non-European culture that may be an attempt to "explain" similar to changeling myths in Western Europe and Scandinavia?

It has been suggested by some authors that stories of changelings in Scandinavia and western Europe are an attempt by ancient peoples used to try and explain developmental abnormalities in children, ...
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5 votes
2 answers
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Need help identifying creature or character

I need help to find the creature or character or tale or whatever linked to the following description: Have a connection: With dreams, like maybe as a bridge. With secrets or maybe contracts? Or the ...
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what was the reason for rape in greek myths and culture

Is the reason gods assaulted women because of Eros? Did gods and mortals alike blame Eros for their act of "passion"?
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What is the origin of a common Christmas tree quotation concerning an old Babylonish fable about an evergreen tree?

Searching for "evergreen tree which sprang out of a dead tree stump" gets nearly 3000 hits. The Seed of the Woman and the Power of Darkness - Donbor Syiemlieh - Google Books is an example: &...
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6 votes
2 answers
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Do dragon myths share a common origin?

We can see ancient references to dragon-like creatures in European, Asian and also many other civilizations. Did these civilizations come up with the concept of dragons independently and just ...
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What is the origin of Grim Reaper?

Grim Reaper, is commonly seen as the hooded figure representing death. This person is featured in all sorts of modern fiction as well. What are your ideas on Grim Reaper's creation?
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What inspired the story of The Sinai Event and what other stories did it inspire?

This is a two-part question: 1: What are the earliest known examples of a group believing in a story that is based on or inspired by the story of The Sinai Event? (The Samaritans are a good example, ...
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1 vote
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Are there any Dragons myths about dragons being the creators of creation? Supernatural beings -as it were - that created the landscape?

I don't have a link to share, just seems to me that ancient man read the landscape and its spiritual and supernatural significance seems to pivot mostly around Dragon myths.
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5 votes
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An ancient source for the myth of Venus' creation of red roses?

I asked a question Literature SE a few days ago, trying to make sense of some of the references in an English poem by William Drummond of Hawthornden. One portion of the poem describes Venus/Aphrodite ...
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4 votes
3 answers
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Where did lizardmen come from?

Usually, fantasy creatures are easy to track back to mythology and folklore and there is only a handful I can't trace back. Of course, that can be because they're actually original, but oftentimes I ...
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7 votes
2 answers
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The unreadable book: Voynich manuscript?

What are, if any, the most plausible mythical origins and legends surrounding the unreadable book also known as the Voynich manuscript? What do legends, folklore or myths have to say as to what is ...
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Are there any older cases of exorcism in other mythology than the Abrahamic religions?

In the Gospel of luke, Jesus exorcises a multitude of demons who call themselves Legion into a herd of pigs which he then drove into a lake. 26 They sailed to the region of the Gerasenes, which is ...
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What would St. Michael be considered far as title/rank?

What is the title and rank of St. Michael amongst all the Angels and exactly what is or was his responsibility?
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1 answer
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How did Santa Claus appear in this world?

My children are very curious as to how Santa Claus appeared. Surely, he could not be born as an ordinary man. I tried to find some story, but most information on the internet is concerned with '...
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5 votes
1 answer
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What is the oldest known religious song/chant?

In most branches of Christianity, there are choirs, solo song or even Christian rockbands. I remember reading that in the case of Christianity most people where illiterate when they started making ...
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Are there any hunter gatherer gods?

I know gods from the iron and bronze age up till our time but are there any gods back in the day of the hunter gatherers?
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What is the connection between Poseidon and horses?

Since Poseidon is well known as the god of the God of the sea, storms, earthquakes and horses? What is the connection between Poseidon and horses? As a god of the sea the storms and earthquakes part ...
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What is the origin of legend of Alderley Edge?

What is the legend of Alderley Edge, in northern England? Are there other legends, folk tales, from this area?
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1 answer
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Character that created themself?

Is there a character in any mythology or folklore that was notable for having created themselves?
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Do Indians openly adopt and syncretize foreign religions? [closed]

I don't know much about Hinduism and the details of Indian history, but I feel that in India it is very common to nationalize foreign religions, beginning with the indianization of Sumerian deities, ...
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Where does the idea of counting crows come from?

According to Learn Religions and many astrology websites, the number of crows you see predicts the future: "Seeing just a single crow is considered an omen of bad luck. Finding two crows, however,...
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Are there any old religions/mythologies where people would get tattood to get closer to or for their god?

Most religions today condemn the use of tattoos but Are there any old religions/mythologies where people would get tattood to get closer to or for their god? The majority of Sunni Muslims believe ...
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9 votes
4 answers
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Who was the first Satan like deity/creature/person in mythology?

There are satan/devil representations in other faiths/myths. But who was the first to have a role and background similar to Satan? Since religions sometimes take over traits of the old ones there ...
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2 answers
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What is the origin of these creatures in Appalachian folklore?

My family (for these intents and purposes) comes from the mountains of Appalachian southern Virginia. The older folks told tales of three specific monsters as warning against wayward children ...
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1 answer
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Why do so many cultures have a myth of the world being made or remade from water?

In various creation and flood myths the world is said to be remade from water, why would different ancient cultures have this same theme?
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3 votes
1 answer
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What is the origin of the akhlut's name?

The akhlut is a creature from Inuit myth, a monstrous wolf that can take the shape of an orca. However, I haven't been able to find this word in any reliable Inuktitut dictionaries (looking for akhlut,...
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1 answer
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How were trolls created in Norse mythology?

Is there a mythical/folklore origin for them? I haven't managed to find any sources on this.
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5 votes
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What is the origin, mythical or historical, of the idea that having sex with a god grants power?

I read about this for the first time in "La ultima bruja" (2017), a book about witches. In this book, there's a chapter in which a girl has to have sexual relationships with a Wolf God so He grants ...
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2 votes
0 answers
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What is the origin of the 'Light' as a ghost?

As a ghost (or after death), it is popularly believed that you will see a light and that light will take you to the afterlife. Where, and/or when, does this 'light' emerge in folklore's history?
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8 votes
2 answers
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Which cultures have the concept of a "true" or "secret name?"

A true name, to my limited understanding, is a concept of a name(s)/phrase specific to one person/being that gives the speaker power over the person the true name belongs to. It is a semi-popular ...
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4 votes
1 answer
327 views

Is it possible that the Heracles myths are a compilation of stories from multiple cultures?

About two years ago, I found this Greek Mythology documentary called, "Clash of the Gods." It is a three disk series with ten episodes. They feature Heracles by his Roman name, Hercules, in the ...
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12 votes
2 answers
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Where does the idea that dragons hoard gold come from?

Where does the idea that dragons hoard gold come from? I can't think of many myths of dragons hoarding gold. The closest I come up with is the dragon that guarded the Golden Fleece. And even that's a ...
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0 votes
1 answer
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What does this pendant/symbol mean?

This has been antagonizing me for months. When I asked my mom what this was, she said, apart from a bookmark, it was a Celtic knot. But when I look it up, I get anything but this. What is this? What ...
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13 votes
1 answer
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Where did the notion the moon was made of cheese originate?

We've all at one point or another heard something about the moon being made of cheese- does anyone know where this myth got started?
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7 votes
3 answers
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When and why did necromancy became a bad thing?

Talking about Europe and cultures that influenced it... Why and since when was the revival of the dead considered evil? In Greek mythology bringing back a loved one is hard or comes at a price, but ...
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5 votes
1 answer
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What is the earliest story of summoning the dead we know of?

This is a followup to: What is the earliest ghost story we know of? In this question, I am looking for stories involving mortals summoning the spirits of the dead from the underworld. The spirits ...
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What is the earliest ghost story we know of?

I am looking for early stories that follow the popular theme of the ghost story: A spirit of the dead appearing amongst the living. Bonus points if there's a haunting involved. I'm only interested in ...
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10 votes
1 answer
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Origin of "horses that instinctively open a vein with their teeth in order to breathe more freely"

In Goethe's Sorrows of Young Werther (1774), we find this sentence: Man erzählt von einer edlen Art Pferde, die, wenn sie schrecklich erhitzt und aufgejagt sind, sich selbst aus Instinkt eine Ader ...
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13 votes
3 answers
4k views

What are the origins of the snowman?

In many countries where snow falls there is a folk tradition of building snowmen. Almost always male, these temporary statues are usually human in scale, standing 0.5 to 2 metres tall, and made from a ...
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6 votes
2 answers
135 views

Why do we "trick or treat" on Halloween?

On Halloween, children in masks and costumes visit houses and ask for treats, using the phrase "trick or treat". How did the tradition get started, and does it stem from the pagan festivals that ...
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10 votes
3 answers
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Why can't vampires walk in the sun?

A very common trope in vampire fiction is that vampires can't walk in the sun, and will die if they try to. See, for example, Suicide by Sunlight on TVTropes. Why is that? What is the origin of the ...
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Why does archaic mythic literature undercut its own pretensions to explain origins?

The myth of Prometheus is commonly understood to account for how humanity first came to possess fire. Likewise the mythic content of the Homeric Hymn to Demeter is commonly understood to account for ...
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2 votes
1 answer
281 views

What creatures aren't from mythology and just J.R.R Tolkien's world? [closed]

A lot of fantasy creatures are derived from mythology and J.R.R Tolkien's books, sometimes both. I love both of these topics and have known about difference between them, like the fantasy elf vs the ...
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What is the origin of the centaurs?

Can someone please explain to me how centaurs were created? Does it seem weird to anyone else that we know about it, but we don't know the full story?
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3 votes
3 answers
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What mythology is the story of Alduin The World Eater and The Dragonborn (as seen in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim) based on?

I'm a big fan of both the Elder Scrolls and Mythology, Skyrim has its own in-game mythology. But I have no clue what myths the story of the Dragonborn and the World Eater is based on. Key Points: ...
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