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Common World Mythology Terms
Terms in this set (48)
Referring to the combination of male and female genders in one person.
It is such a person and in mythology and religion can sometimes symbolize psychological or spiritual wholeness.
Myths that reflect understandings of the world based in the concept that everything contains soul or spiritual significance. Many African and Native American myths and religions fall into this category.
Literally, the study of humans.
The end of everything. These are myths that are myths of the end of the world. Since we have not experienced the end of the world, such myths are revelations rather than facts.
A universal symbol or pattern. The term is used primarily in psychology by Carl Jung and his followers, in religious studies by Mircea Eliade and his followers, and in literary criticism by scholars such as Northrop Frye.
A term sometimes used in connection with the Indo-Iranians who descended from the north into India and Iran in ancient times, bringing with them Indo-European linguistic, cultural, and religious traditions.
A term used to characterize the undifferentiated, unordered reality - before creation.
A major archetype of creation in which the world emerges from elements already in existence but not yet ordered or differentiated.
The study of the coming into existence of the cosmos (from the Greek kosmos, meaning "order," and genesis, meaning "birth"), that is, of creation.
A term used to distinguish a female creator from a male one.
Perhaps the first form of writing, invented by the ancient Sumerians of Mesopotamia (Iraq). It consisted of a system of pictographs carved into clay tablets.
The belief that the world is dominated by a struggle between two opposites, such as good and evil or spiritual and physical.
Earth diver creation
One of the primary archetypes of creation, involving the diving into the primordial waters to find the material with which to create the world. The archetype is ubiquitous among eastern Native Americans.
One of the primary archetypes of creation in which the first people come from within the earth. The archetype is popular among southwestern Native Americans.
Myths that deal with the end of things. The Norse Ragnarok story, like all apocalypse stories, is this, as is the belief in the "Last Judgment."
It is the study of origins. They are myths from those that explain traditions and natural phenomena.
Ex nihilo creation
One of the primary archetypes of creation, it literally means, from nothing. For example, it tells myths of the creation of the world by the creator's words or thoughts at a time when time and space was simply an empty void.
In mythology, a human male or female who embodies the aspirations of a people and has special powers, usually derived from some direct relationship with the divine.
Cultures and traditions dominated by female as opposed to male leaders.
They are societies that are those in which a person's name and significance and sometimes property rights come from the female rather than male line.
In myths, characters and events can often be seen as metaphorical, that is, as representations or symbols of a culture's ideas and beliefs rather than as factual reality.
The belief that reality is contained in one being that has many manifestations. Hindus who believe in the concept of Brahman, the single, all-encompassing reality as revealed, for instance, by Shiva, Vishnu, and other deities, can be called this.
A term coined by James Joyce and used primarily by mythologist Joseph Campbell to refer to the universal or archetypal pattern of hero myths around the world. It contains such elements as the miraculous conception, the search for the father, the quest, and the descent to the underworld.
The belief in a single god such as the Hebrew/Jewish Yahweh, the Christian God, or the Muslim Allah. These three religions are usually referred to when people speak of it.
A narrative, usually religious in nature, that explains reality and expresses a sense of a cultures's place in reality but may be more metaphorical and symbolic than literal to certain people within and outside the culture.
The study of myths, and also a collection of myths.
The Greek term from which our word myth is derived.
Myths that explain the nature of being or existence.
A term commonly applied - often in a derogative manner - to non-monotheistic beliefs, especially pantheism.
The belief in many deities.
A term that denotes a collection of deities belonging to a particular cult or religion.
Cultures and traditions dominated by male as opposed to female leaders.
A word used in mythology to refer to original forms.
Used synonymously with primal in mythological descriptions.
Used synonymously with primal and primeval in mythological descriptions.
The act of returning to life after a period of death. Osiris in Egypt and Jesus both experience this as opposed to "rebirth."
An ordered form of actions (or rite) to celebrate or reenact a mythological act or belief.
An archetype aspect of the lives of certain heroes - Sita and Jesus are examples - in which the hero pays a significant price (usually death) in some sense to save the lives of others or of a whole society.
A holy person - called a "Medicine Man" or "Medicine Woman" by some Native Americans - who communicates, by way of a radical change in the state of consciousness, with the spirit world and has the power to cure.
A system of thought that assumes consistent underlying patterns in all forms of human experience, whether so-called civilized or primitive.
Something that represents an idea. A church steeple might be seen as a symbol of reaching up to the deity. Myths are full of symbols. Thor's hammer, for instance, is a symbol of power.
Myths that stress or suggest the connection between natural processes and a final purpose or design.
The belief in gods or a god, particularly personal ones as opposed to mere concepts.
The concept of three dominant gods, as in the case of Hinduism's Shiva, Vishnu, and Brahma or Shiva, Vishnu, and Devi. This differs from the Christian dogma of the Trinity, in which God has three aspects: Creator, Redeemer, and Spirit.
A miraculous conception and birth, such as having been conceived without sexual intercourse or having been born of a mother who was a virgin, which is sometimes part of the heroic monomyth.
In the ex nihilo creation myths, the creator exists in a state of no-thing-ness before he or she creates the universe. Such is the case of Yahweh in the biblical book of Genesis.
World parent creation
Creation in which a primal being is in some way turned into elements of reality, as int he Norse creation.
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