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Mythology

*Please note that some content may be a bit mature for younger children- adjust and change these activities at suit your groups age and maturity level at your discretion*

Myths define social customs and beliefs and are a means to explain some natural and psychological phenomena, Mythology is all around us. Here are just a few examples of places we find myths today:

  • Days of the week — Wednesday (Woden or Odin — Norse god); Thursday (Thor — Norse god); Friday (Freya — Norse goddess); Saturday (Saturn — Roman god who ruled before Jove)
  • Cars — Toyota Avalon and Cressida, Cadillac El Dorado, Honda Odyssey, Mercury
  • Shoes — Nike
  • Tires — Midas
  • Astronomy — Constellations like Orion, the Argo, all of the planets and the Pleiades. The Milky Way itself was supposedly the road over which the stars traveled to Jupiter's palace.
  • NASA — The first part of U.S. space program was Project Mercury, named after the messenger of the gods because the project's purpose was to send a message to the Soviets that America was in the space race. The Gemini Project was next; Gemini is Latin for "twins," and the project was called this because the capsule held two astronauts. Apollo astronauts rode on Saturn rockets.

Myths make great stories. They come up in literature all over the place, from really serious stuff like Dante to comic strips. Myths inspire music.  The word music comes from the mythological muses who inspired art of all kinds. Painters such as Michelangelo and Botticelli were inspired by myths. Children's movies are a good place to look for myths.  You will find them everywhere, including Snow White, Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings.

* Can you find at least three examples of mythology connections in the world?*

*Every myth can be put into one of 3 categories. Name those 3 categories and give a brief description of each.*

When talking about mythological beings and places it’s important to start from the beginning and understand where they come from.

Creation:

A creation myth is a symbolic narrative of how the world began and how people first came to inhabit it.

Greek mythology has the creation story of Chaos, Gaia, and Uranus.

Egyptian mythology has the creation story of Nun and Re

Norse Mythology has the creation story of Ginnungagap,  Muspelheim, Niflheim.

Japanese mythology has the creation story of Izanagi anf Izanami

Mayan mythology has the creation story of the Hero Twins

*Together with your group read each of the creation stories and discuss their similarities and differences*

World Views:

World view is the way one perceives the world to look, feel, or be

Each ancient culture had a different view of how the world looked according to the stories that were told.

For example the Greeks believed that the world was flat, but circular, like a plate and at the center of the Universe was Greece.

Their world was divided by the Mediterranean (meaning middle land in Latin) and a giant river they called Ocean flowed around the world in a clockwise motion.

*What did the world look like to the Egyptian, Norse, Japanese, and Mayan cultures? How do they compare to the current world view? List 2 ways that they are all similar and 2 ways that they all contrast.*

Cast of Characters

Each culture has their most powerful, most loved, most feared, most popular, most talked about deities.

In Norse mythology Odin is the most powerful and wisest god.

*Together with your group find 3 deities from each of the aforementioned ancient cultures. Discuss what makes them to be considered the most powerful, revered, feared, or popularly referenced deity in their culture* 

Now that you have learned a little more about the characters from a few different cultures and myths, did one in particular stand out to you? One that you’d like to learn a little more about?

*Complete the biographical poem in the following format. Share with your group*

Name of the chosen deity______________________

I am (name 4 traits) __________________________________________________

I am (a relative) of (name 1-3 people) _____________________________________

Lover of (1-3 things or people)_________________________________________________

Who feels/protects (1-3 things)_________________________________________________

Who needs (1-3 things) ______________________________________________________

Who fears (1-3 things)________________________________________________________

Who gives (1-3 things)________________________________________________________

Resident of ________________________________________

* If you could have dinner with one deity, who would it be and why?*

*Invent a new deity. Describe him or her using the format below.*

Name________________________________________________

Connection (son, daughter, mother, of...)____________________________________________

Powers ________________________________________________

Symbol_________________________________________________

Personality traits___________________________________________________

Friends________________________________________________________

Enemies_______________________________________________________

Hopefully myths inspire you, too!

Myths were often used to explain natural phenomena.

Your challenge is to create your own myth to explain some natural phenomenon or land formation.

  1. Your story must involve at least two deities from the ancient culture of your choice.
  2. Your story must explain some natural phenomenon (such as a weather event) or some geological feature (a mountain range, a large valley, a sea, an ocean, a polar ice cap, etc.).

Here are some ideas to get you thinking:

  • Where did the Rocky Mountains come from?
  • Where did the Mississippi River come from?
  • What made the North and/or South Pole(s)?
  • Why is Earth the third planet from the sun?
  • Why is it dark at night?
  • What is in the middle of the earth?

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