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WishWords
10-30-2006, 05:06 PM
What legendary creatures would you consider widespread or universal? For instance, most cultures across the world have a version of the werewolf, vampire, angels and big hairy men. Are there others that you can think of?

Are there any North American specific legendary creatures that you can think of? I've thought of Thunderbird, but I'm not sure how many North American peoples believe(d) in it. I'm interested in the oldest legends, not newer ones such as the Jersey Devil, Jackalope or Chupacabra (yes, I know that's Central American).

I want things that are deep seated in the human psyche, monstrous as well as wondrous.

Edited to add: I should point out that I have been reading the mythology encylopedias and googling. I'm just curious which ones other people feel are universal that I might have missed. I'm also not sure which North American creatures were believed in across tribal boundaries.

And I can not get to Occultopedia since I log on through a government computer. It's where I wanted to look in the first place.

Any help would be appreciated.

triceretops
10-30-2006, 05:19 PM
Folklore is full of giants--American, Celtic, Norse and many many others. It is believed that Mastodon bones started the whold ruckus in Greece and many other Mediteranean (sp) cultures. Ya juss gotta love the big folk.

Tri

spike
10-30-2006, 05:55 PM
ghosts

Vincent
10-30-2006, 05:56 PM
Dragons, wyrms and assorted giant serpents?

wordmonkey
10-30-2006, 06:33 PM
Have fun....

http://www.pantheon.org/

http://www.acs.ucalgary.ca/~dkbrown/storfolk.html

There are lots more out there.

Higgins
10-30-2006, 06:47 PM
What legendary creatures would you consider widespread or universal? For instance, most cultures across the world have a version of the werewolf, vampire, angels and big hairy men. Are there others that you can think of?

Are there any North American specific legendary creatures that you can think of? I've thought of Thunderbird, but I'm not sure how many North American peoples believe(d) in it. I'm interested in the oldest legends, not newer ones such as the Jersey Devil, Jackalope or Chupacabra (yes, I know that's Central American).

I want things that are deep seated in the human psyche, monstrous as well as wondrous.

Edited to add: I should point out that I have been reading the mythology encylopedias and googling. I'm just curious which ones other people feel are universal that I might have missed. I'm also not sure which North American creatures were believed in across tribal boundaries.

Any help would be appreciated.

Only shape-shifters of various kinds seem to be universal. Angels, hairy men, werewolves (far to particular to fit into universal shape-shifter)...no...

triceretops
10-30-2006, 06:52 PM
Little people. Leprecahns (sp), feys, gnomes and other sorts?

Tri

WishWords
10-30-2006, 06:56 PM
These are all great. It does look like Thunderbird, Wendigo and Water Babies are pretty widespread in North America also.

What about zombie/ghoul things? Do most cultures have some version of carrion eaters?

WishWords
10-30-2006, 06:59 PM
Only shape-shifters of various kinds seem to be universal. Angels, hairy men, werewolves (far to particular to fit into universal shape-shifter)...no...

Well, we have Sasquatch, Yeti and several other "big hairy men" in many cultures.

I should have said "shape shifters" instead of "some version" of "werewolf".

I thought most cultures had some sort of winged man?

Lyra Jean
10-30-2006, 08:34 PM
Mermaids

johnnysannie
10-30-2006, 08:40 PM
Little people. Leprecahns (sp), feys, gnomes and other sorts?

Tri
What are called "little people" or "faeries" in Europe are called The Nunnahee to the Cherokee and I think other tribes have similiar legendary wee ones.

sammyig
10-30-2006, 08:51 PM
demons or evil spirits- most cultures have their own version

smallthunder
10-31-2006, 01:17 AM
When I write "unicorn," I don't necessarily mean a horse-like creature with one horn ... but sturdy, four-legged magical creatures that usually appear to signify important births/deaths/events ... that tend to have their names translated as "unicorn" in English.

For example, the Japanese "kirin" ... the Chinese "qilin" ...

anyone know of any others?

Rabe
10-31-2006, 03:03 AM
Tricksters - the Raven of the Pacific Northwest (such as the Tlingit) is the same as Coyote of the Southwest. (many of the legends even become the same).

Ravens are also universally known as they're everywhere, but their legends are also diverse. Where the Americans referred to them as trickster gods, in European societies they are more psychopomps and are associated more with death and the afterlife. But they are all somehow involved in the idea of storytelling and communication between humans and the gods.

Someone else mentioned the Thunderbird which shares some characteristics with the Phoenix of Grecian/Phoenician legends.

Humanity made of clay and then stones is also pretty universal. Gods living atop mountains is as widespread as the Incans to the Japanese. Atlanteans are also somewhat universal now. I'm not sure if this is because of a widespread use of it in current media.

Men descending from flaming chariots in the sky - also pretty widespread leading to the conspiracy beliefs of alien visitation during primitive human societies. Snakes and serpents are considered wise creatures in most religious systems that come before the Judeo-Christian system.

Obtaining wisdom from various forms of fish is also pretty widespread. Consider tales of the salmon in both Celtic and Pacific Northwest legends.

Vampirism (not always of the blood drinking variety) is also universal. Of course the idea that drinking blood will also give you the victim's vitality is somewhat universal.

Rabe...

Tiger
10-31-2006, 03:32 AM
Zombies/walking dead/lycanthropes

Jenny
10-31-2006, 04:14 AM
I agree with Beezle about the serpent type creatures. They're widespread.

Would Jung's archetypes help? MY poor old brain's trying to remember if he mentioned dragons.

Christine N.
10-31-2006, 05:23 AM
Yep, Discovery or History channel had a show about how every single culture has dragons of some sort. They hypothesized that something like a dragon may have actually existed, since it seems so many people saw them.

The Chinese, obviously, use dragons extensively in folklore, and they are one of the oldest cultures on earth.

I'd probably also some form of boogieman. Different names, different places, but some kind of scary thing that comes out at night.

WishWords
10-31-2006, 07:09 AM
I agree with Beezle about the serpent type creatures. They're widespread.

Would Jung's archetypes help? MY poor old brain's trying to remember if he mentioned dragons.

I don't know, but I will certainly find out later today. Thank you for the lead. Hopefully the network won't decide that Jung=porn or some such crap.

I really wish I could get to Occultopedia. They have the site set up in such a handy way.

MattW
10-31-2006, 04:38 PM
Dark/mysterious dogs seem pervasive.

There's always the Wookalar.

Marlys
10-31-2006, 05:01 PM
Sea monsters/lake creatures (http://theshadowlands.net/serpent.htm).

Tallymark
11-01-2006, 01:44 AM
One of the earliest forms of spiritual beliefs was 'animism', in which everything--from animals to trees and stones and earth--has a sort of spirit. I think because of this, spirit-creatures and spirit-animals (not fantasy beasts, but regular animals endowed with an extra intelligence and powers) are common to a *lot* of religions. In native american culture, you may not have a lot of fantasy beasts, but the regular animals were percieved in a very different way. There were the gods, and then even the regular animals, where when you killed you would pray to it and thank its spirit for providing for you. And think of dreamcatchers--nightmares and natural spirits were percieved as, in some fashion, tangible enough to be snared if you go about it right.

Sorry I can't come up with too many specifics; a lot of cultures I think had a more mythical view of real animals rather than mythical animals. I think the fox figures prominantly though in some native american stories (though not the way coyote does), and the fox or kitsune is a powerful figure and in japanese culture too, infamous for tricks and illusions. I think there's a native american culture that has a mythical animal that can shapeshift back and forth between wolf and orca whale. Its hard to generalize with native american myths because their cultures were really as myriad and different as the different religions are today.

And the dragon or serpent is definately a big one. Think of the rainbow snake of australia; the midgard serpent of norse myth, Apep in egyptian myth.

Hm, on a more general note, I think the cautionary 'Pandoras box' type of story is deep seated in most religions. I mean, even think of judaism and christianity--god warned us not to eat that apple, but we did it anyway.