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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16 views

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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1answer
795 views

Character that created themself?

Is there a character in any mythology or folklore that was notable for having created themselves?
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43 views

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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1answer
51 views

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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91 views

What is the first recorded religion that encouraged the tattooing of their followers?

Most religions today condemn the use of tattoos but what was the first recorded mythology or religion that encouraged the tattooing of their followers? The majority of Sunni Muslims believe tattooing ...
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4answers
289 views

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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114 views

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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1answer
84 views

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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1answer
42 views

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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144 views

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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73 views

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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31 views

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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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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1answer
110 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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2answers
713 views

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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1answer
96 views

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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1answer
213 views

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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0answers
75 views

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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1answer
99 views

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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1answer
128 views

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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1answer
154 views

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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3answers
795 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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101 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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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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1answer
163 views

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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185 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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344 views

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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3answers
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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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1answer
80 views

Does the study of mythology find evidence of Jung's “Universal Psychic Structure?” [closed]

Are there universal myths, regardless of culture, that we retell over and over? The example often used is The Cosmic Hunt.
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1answer
128 views

Where did the various artistic depictions of the Chimera originate?

I wasn't sure whether to ask this in history as it relates to art history, but the Chimera's appearance varies considerably in art throughout history. Designs vary in the proportion of lion, goat and ...
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1answer
292 views

What is the inspiration behind the dark forest in Dante?

The entrance to Dante's underworld is situated somewhere in a dark forest: Midway in the journey of our life I came to myself in a dark wood, for the straight way was lost. Ah, how hard ...
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1answer
373 views

What is the origin of horse brasses depicting sun, moon, star, and wheel?

In England and other countries, many shire, cart and parade horses carry brasses, which often depict the sun, the crescent moon, a star, or a wheel. When did these designs first appear on horse ...
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2answers
4k views

What is the origin of the story that Santa Claus lives at the North Pole?

Can the traditional location of Santa Claus home and workshop be traced to older folklore stories, or is it a modern invention, a piece of fakelore?
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1answer
167 views

The Origin of Werewolf: Deities Cursing People into Animals?

I read some years back, about some ancient mythology where people believed the gods would rather commonly curse mortals into animal forms. There may've even been terms specific to this process. I ...
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1answer
356 views

Why are poinsettias associated with Christmas?

The site Poinsettia Facts associates the flower with Christmas: No flower says Christmas like the beautiful poinsettia. Learn a few facts about this traditional Christmas plant. Today the ...
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3answers
1k views

Why do we call the pentagram a “star”?

First, I apologize if this is asked in the wrong place, but I'm finding it hard placing this question, which is this: The symbol above is called a "star", but why? I have read that the symbol ...
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1answer
243 views

Are There Pagan Roots of Christmas Traditions?

Why do we celebrate Christmas as we do today? What do the Christmas symbols mean: Santa, an evergreen tree, adornments, bells, mistletoe, reindeer, elves, socks filled with gourmet... where do they ...
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1answer
480 views

What’s the origin of the Weird Sisters in Macbeth?

The use of a trio of witches is quite common in literature and lore. Greek, Slavic, and British tales have used them as antagonists or catalysts in their (sometimes cautionary) stories. In other ...
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1answer
4k views

What is the folkloristic origin of cats having 9 lives?

Long ago, people believed cats had 9 lives. (As shown in ice age) When and where did that belief come from?
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1answer
107 views

Is there a myth that explains Senet's origins?

Fey Ray's answer to the question What is the oldest traditional children's game? is Senet, a game like checkers. Does the game appear in Egyptian mythology? Is there a myth that explains where and ...
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4answers
90k views

Why is salt used to get rid of ghosts and keep out demons?

I've been watching a lot of Supernatural, and I've been wondering. What is it with salt? They keep bringing up that one needs to salt and burn the bones. Also, salt is used to repel ghosts. This isn't ...
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2answers
195 views

What is the earliest known myth about mermaids?

Stories about mermaids have been around since time immemorial. I would like to know what is the earliest confirmed evidence about the origins of the mythological creature called mermaids?
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326 views

What is the origin of Krampus?

In 2 of the games I play, there is In Drive Ahead, a mini-boss is Krampus on a mission for Christmas. In Terraria, during the Frost Moon, Krampus spawns. It obviously has some Christmas roots, as ...
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1answer
7k views

What are the origins of thestrals?

In Harry Potter, there are magical creatures thestrals A Thestral is a breed of winged horses with a skeletal body, face with reptilian features, and wide, leathery wings that resemble a bat's. . . ...
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2answers
587 views

In Abrahamic religions, what is the origin of angels?

In Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Islam, Christianity, and potentially by relation Zoroastrianism), what do the sources say is the origin of angels?
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1answer
490 views

What are the origins of Wu Song the Tiger Slayer?

Wu Song is a major character in the Chinese classical novel Water Margin; his claim to fame is killing a tiger with his bare hands. Since Water Margin draws heavily from folklore, and the story of ...
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4k views

What is the meaning of Sage in respect of eastern folklore?

I am looking for a more concrete definition of what an eastern sage is and an explanation of the background of the eastern sage. Many translations of eastern martial arts feature sages. They are ...
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1answer
1k views

Does Greek mythology list a calendar date for creation?

I'm reading "Apollodorus : The Library of Greek Mythology" and I've noticed that it simply starts with "Ouranos was the first ruler of the universe." There is no mention of dates that would allow for ...
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2answers
157 views

What cultures have myths related to the origin of aurora phenomena?

Basically, which nations have stories explaining either the Northern or Southern Lights?
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1answer
6k views

What is the origin of the Japanese Kodama?

One of Studio Ghibli's (excellent) films, named Princess Mononoke, has depictions of kodama: In Japanese folklore, kodama are tree spirits that inhabit trees that are older than 100 years. In the ...