Creatures in the Mist: Little People, Wild Men and Spirit Beings around the World: A Study in Comparative Mythology

By Gary R. Varner | Go to book overview

AFTERWORD

Mythology. Many think of it as simple children’s tales with dragons, winged-horses, magical powers and superhuman trials won by superhuman men. However, it is far more than this. One scholar noted that contemporary Western man believes other cultures have myth and legend, while we have history and gospel. Mircea Eliade wrote, “Myth narrates a sacred history; it relates an event that took place in primordial Time, the fabled time of the ‘beginnings.’…[M]yth is regarded as a sacred story, and hence a ‘true history,’ because it always deals with realities.”1

Most of the material in this book is mythology. But, as Eliade wrote, mythology is “true history” in a symbolic sense that is more profound than our superficial grasp of individual day-to-day physical experiences. Whether we speak of Judeo-Christian stories of Creation, or of one family riding out a worldwide flood with two of every kind of animal, or of the dead coming back to life, or of other traditions’ stories that seek to respond to the unfathomable questions of life, similar myths are present the world over and have been repeated for thousands of years. These stories are part of all religious traditions and beliefs, as every society has puzzled over the origins of the earth, of life, of the apparently cyclical nature of time, and the conundrum of an inevitable death that strikes at random.

We have seen in this book that werewolf legends are found from Polynesia to France to North and South America and Africa. Stories of Wild Men are also universally found around the world. Sightings of Mermaids (and the Loch Ness monster) are still reported. Tales of fairies and vampires are abundant.

Mythology may be seen to serve as a kind of social tool, instructing, entertaining, and uniting members of a community by creating shared beliefs

1. Eliade, Mircea. Myth and Reality. New York: Harper & Row, Publishers 1963, 5–6.

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