Portal:Myths

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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: भिक्षाटन; Bhikṣāṭana; literally, "wandering about for alms, mendicancy") or Bhikshatana-murti (Bhikṣāṭanamūrti) 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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illustration of a great auk
A great auk, which may be the source for descriptions of the boobrie

The boobrie is a mythological shapeshifting entity inhabiting the lochs of the west coast of Scotland. It commonly adopts the appearance of a gigantic water bird resembling a cormorant or great northern diver, but it can also materialise in the form of various other mythological creatures such as a water bull.

A generally malevolent entity, the boobrie typically preys on livestock being transported on ships, but it is also fond of otters, of which it consumes a considerable number. In its manifestation as a water horse the creature is able to gallop across the top of lochs as if on solid ground. During the summer months it is seen infrequently as a large insect, sucking the blood of horses. (Full article...)

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