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Portal:Myths

The Myths Portal

1929 Belgian banknote, depicting Ceres, Neptune and caduceus

Myth is a genre of folklore or theology consisting primarily of narratives that play a fundamental role in a society, such as foundational tales or origin myths. For folklorists, historians, philosophers or theologians this is very different from the use of "myth" which simply meaning something that is not true. Instead, the truth value of a myth is not a defining criterion.

Myths are often endorsed by secular and religious authorities 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. (Full article...)

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A painting of three women on horses riding on white clouds in a blue sky with two black birds flying nearby. "Walkyrien" is written at the center of the bottom.
"Walkyrien" (1905) by Emil Doepler

In Norse mythology, a valkyrie (from Old Norse valkyrja "chooser of the fallen") is one of a host of female figures who decide who will die in battle. Selecting among half of those who die in battle (the other half go to the goddess Freyja's afterlife field Fólkvangr), the valkyries bring their chosen to the afterlife hall of the slain, Valhalla, ruled over by the god Odin. There, when the einherjar are not preparing for the events of Ragnarök, the valkyries bear them mead. Valkyries also appear as lovers of heroes and other mortals, where they are sometimes described as the daughters of royalty, sometimes accompanied by ravens, and sometimes connected to swans.

The Old Norse poems Völuspá, Grímnismál, Darraðarljóð, and the Nafnaþulur section of the Prose Edda book Skáldskaparmál provide lists of valkyrie names. Other valkyrie names appear solely outside these lists, such as Sigrún (who is attested in the poems Helgakviða Hundingsbana I and Helgakviða Hundingsbana II). Valkyrie names commonly emphasize associations with battle and, in many cases, with the spear—a weapon heavily associated with the god Odin. Scholars such as Hilda Ellis Davidson and Rudolf Simek propose that the names of the valkyries themselves contain no individuality, but are rather descriptive of the traits and nature of war-goddesses, and are possibly the descriptive creations of skalds, a type of traditional Scandinavian poet. (Full article...)

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Featured Lists:  List of valkyrie names in Norse mythology

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Ninurta with his thunderbolts pursues Anzû stealing the Tablet of Destinies from Enlil's sanctuary (Austen Henry Layard Monuments of Nineveh, 2nd Series, 1853)

Anzû, also known as d and Imdugud (Sumerian: 𒀭𒅎𒂂 AN.IM.DUGUDMUŠEN), is a monster in several Mesopotamian religions. He was conceived by the pure waters of the Abzu and the wide Earth, or as son of Siris. Anzû was depicted as a massive bird who can breathe fire and water, although Anzû is alternately depicted as a lion-headed eagle.

Stephanie Dalley, in Myths from Mesopotamia, writes that "the Epic of Anzu is principally known in two versions: an Old Babylonian version of the early second millennium [BC], giving the hero as Ningirsu; and 'The Standard Babylonian' version, dating to the first millennium BC, which appears to be the most quoted version, with the hero as Ninurta". However, the Anzu character does not appear as often in some other writings, as noted below. (Full article...)

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