The Best/Worst Mythology?

For my 6000 post I figured I'd start a thread about something I really enjoy...MYTHOLOGY.

Be it religious or not, I do enjoy a good mythology.

I, personally, find the Greek to be overdone in western culture.
I don't find any of the gods particularity interesting and even stories like Hercules and Pandora have worn out their welcome.

Best is the Hindu mythology. Immense diversity and depth from elephant and monkey deities to blue-skinned shapeshifting avatars and seven-flame-tongued demons, all in service of a beautiful cosmological principle.

Worst is the Norse, whose gods are all basically testosterone-charged alpha-males with little depth or nuance.

Australian Aboriginal myths and notions of the dreamtime are also very beautiful.

Blood Brain Barrier:
Worst is the Norse, whose gods are all basically testosterone-charged alpha-males with little depth or nuance.

To be fair though, there's more to norse mythology than the Gods. A lot of it is basically "historical" accounts of guys with unfortunate flatulence-related nicknames going around seducing trolls and shit. It's all pretty rad.

Japanese mythology has a similar problem. The more religious stuff is often very tedious to read unless you're part of that tradition, mostly because its tied into retrospectively explaining the descent of the royal family and because the gods are all assholes. But the historical chronicles and folk tales are really good.

Best? Probably Greek and Norse mythologies, just because how much I've read about them and immersed in them.

Worst? Maybe the Roman? I haven't studied it that deeply but didn't they just more or less copy paste from the Greeks?
Not necessarely a bad one, but I never "got" the Egyptian mythology.

Bonus round: Mythologies I'd like to explore more:

American (both north and south). I think I read about them as a kid but since they're rarely used in pop culture (movies, games, tv shows, comics) I've sadly forgotten most about them.

Slavic. It's interesting to see how older slavic religions have mixed with Christianity. I think one story involved Satan and his grandmother (or mother? Can't remember), and she annoyed him by plucking his hair.

Middle East. Same as above, mixture of different religions blending into one.

I should also read more about Finnish mythology. Or at the very least read the national epic, Kalevala.

Blood Brain Barrier:
Worst is the Norse, whose gods are all basically testosterone-charged alpha-males with little depth or nuance.

Eh, like evilthecat I disagree with you there. For a start its noticeable that hurling testosterone at a problem never actually solves it, you generally have to try a bit of wit or cunning. Seriosuly, its far more often that you need Odin or Loki to think your way out of the problem than it is for Thor to smash it to bits. Also Norse myths are rad as hell so there's that

Best is Celtic mythology. Even if it were just the fair folk, it would be great. But then we also get the gods.

Worst is Abrahamic mythology, with Christianity being the nadir. At least the older stuff has the Grigori and Nephilim.

Palindromemordnilap:

Blood Brain Barrier:
Worst is the Norse, whose gods are all basically testosterone-charged alpha-males with little depth or nuance.

Eh, like evilthecat I disagree with you there. For a start its noticeable that hurling testosterone at a problem never actually solves it, you generally have to try a bit of wit or cunning. Seriosuly, its far more often that you need Odin or Loki to think your way out of the problem than it is for Thor to smash it to bits. Also Norse myths are rad as hell so there's that

That's a good point. For a culture seen usually as a bunch of brutes interested in nothing but bashing people with swords and taking their stuff, the Norse were actually a very thoughtful and reasonable people. Their primary deities were actually very subtle and political rather than aggressive douchebags. Honestly, thinking about it now, Thor was the only major god who was all guts and balls and no brains, and he regularly was made the fool. Sure, he got to massacre frost giants a lot, but that was all he had going for him. Odin was much more influential, Loki almost always came out on top, especially against Thor himself, and other major gods like Freyr, Tyr, and Heimdall were actually reasonable, even-tempered people.

I also really like how everything in the Gods' worldview was aimed at delaying Ragnarok. They knew from the beginning everything was going to end in blood and fire and decided that the best thing to do was to put it off for as long as possible. Every big decision was made with an eye on the apocalypse. And best of all, the way they saw it, the best way to push back Ragnarok was by being smart, fair, decent people and responsible rulers. To them, being a good person was the most important thing in the world because being cruel or deceitful or dishonest would actually hasten their own destruction.

For example, the way they handled Loki. He was basically a cultural exchange with the frost giants, and Odin did his damndest to treat Loki like an Asgardian god, as a brother, even though the guy was clearly a dick and a disruptive influence. And eventually when Loki caused the death of Baldr, the god of light and like the nicest guy ever, the Aesir finally snapped and imprisoned Loki in a torture chamber, but even though it was entirely understandable and he deserved it, this treatment of a brother was a mistake, and Odin knew that it would bring about Ragnarok that much sooner.

It's fascinating to see Norse mythology from that perspective, as both an example for behavior and a warning of how not to behave, told in a cosmic political and moral struggle by a grim and practical people.

TheVampwizimp:

Palindromemordnilap:

Blood Brain Barrier:
Worst is the Norse, whose gods are all basically testosterone-charged alpha-males with little depth or nuance.

Eh, like evilthecat I disagree with you there. For a start its noticeable that hurling testosterone at a problem never actually solves it, you generally have to try a bit of wit or cunning. Seriosuly, its far more often that you need Odin or Loki to think your way out of the problem than it is for Thor to smash it to bits. Also Norse myths are rad as hell so there's that

That's a good point. For a culture seen usually as a bunch of brutes interested in nothing but bashing people with swords and taking their stuff, the Norse were actually a very thoughtful and reasonable people. Their primary deities were actually very subtle and political rather than aggressive douchebags. Honestly, thinking about it now, Thor was the only major god who was all guts and balls and no brains, and he regularly was made the fool. Sure, he got to massacre frost giants a lot, but that was all he had going for him. Odin was much more influential, Loki almost always came out on top, especially against Thor himself, and other major gods like Freyr, Tyr, and Heimdall were actually reasonable, even-tempered people.

I also really like how everything in the Gods' worldview was aimed at delaying Ragnarok. They knew from the beginning everything was going to end in blood and fire and decided that the best thing to do was to put it off for as long as possible. Every big decision was made with an eye on the apocalypse. And best of all, the way they saw it, the best way to push back Ragnarok was by being smart, fair, decent people and responsible rulers. To them, being a good person was the most important thing in the world because being cruel or deceitful or dishonest would actually hasten their own destruction.

For example, the way they handled Loki. He was basically a cultural exchange with the frost giants, and Odin did his damndest to treat Loki like an Asgardian god, as a brother, even though the guy was clearly a dick and a disruptive influence. And eventually when Loki caused the death of Baldr, the god of light and like the nicest guy ever, the Aesir finally snapped and imprisoned Loki in a torture chamber, but even though it was entirely understandable and he deserved it, this treatment of a brother was a mistake, and Odin knew that it would bring about Ragnarok that much sooner.

It's fascinating to see Norse mythology from that perspective, as both an example for behavior and a warning of how not to behave, told in a cosmic political and moral struggle by a grim and practical people.

What is all of this in aid of though? The example these Gods provide of the "smart, fair, decent and reasonable" ruler may be very well-advised and extremely wise, but it is given with two eyes firmly set on the self-survival of the Norse people. If that is the limit of what the Norse gods have to give, it is a rather poor offering spiritually speaking especially in modern times where we do not generally need to worry about such things. Contrast this, for example, to the Bhagavad-Gita, where Krishna advises Arjuna about his true nature as a living being over eighteen discourses. What is revealed is dramatically different from what are (even still today) the ordinary assumptions of common folk. Is there anything that revelatory in the Norse mythology? There is an abundance of political and moral advice to be had in most cultures' literature and oral traditions, but precious little that is of the nature of real revelation.

Indigenous Australian Dreamtime and Songlines is amazing, in terms of psycholinguistics, anthropology, and archaeology.

Songlines are a combination of law, artistic expression (performing, oratory, and visual), astronomy, ecology, geology, medicine, survival skills, trade, religious instruction, and likely the first formal system of cartography humanity had ever developed.

By relating the stories, the songs, and by spreading them, Aboriginal nations created a continent spanning religion, despite numerous different tongues, that created the most densely packed religious landscape of totemistic spirit worship. One that is synonymous with the terrain of Australia itself that allowed complex land navigation and legal instruction across its surface for over 50,000 years.

The study of Dreamtime and Songline mythology continues to illuminate aspects of psychology and sociology to this day.

The supreme sadness at the core of it is that the Songlines are disappearing faster than researchers can record them. And with it, we are losing the greatest cultural repository to assist the exploration of humanity and the mind that we know of.

Blood Brain Barrier:
What is all of this in aid of though? The example these Gods provide of the "smart, fair, decent and reasonable" ruler may be very well-advised and extremely wise, but it is given with two eyes firmly set on the self-survival of the Norse people. If that is the limit of what the Norse gods have to give, it is a rather poor offering spiritually speaking especially in modern times where we do not generally need to worry about such things. Contrast this, for example, to the Bhagavad-Gita, where Krishna advises Arjuna about his true nature as a living being over eighteen discourses. What is revealed is dramatically different from what are (even still today) the ordinary assumptions of common folk. Is there anything that revelatory in the Norse mythology? There is an abundance of political and moral advice to be had in most cultures' literature and oral traditions, but precious little that is of the nature of real revelation.

Okay, but how is that eighteen discourses any different from the usual "Hey this how you should live your life" advice that most mythology boils down to? You're saying its somehow more spiritual but all you seem to be describing is exactly the same "These are the rules of how we think the world works, so this is how you should behave" that is delivered by Norse myths. Its just Krishna seems to take longer to say it, the long-winded show-off XD

Irish folk tales are pretty interesting. Leprechauns have been watered down and overdone to death, but once you get past the surface level commercialized stuff there are some pretty unique creatures and tales to be found

Palindromemordnilap:

Blood Brain Barrier:
What is all of this in aid of though? The example these Gods provide of the "smart, fair, decent and reasonable" ruler may be very well-advised and extremely wise, but it is given with two eyes firmly set on the self-survival of the Norse people. If that is the limit of what the Norse gods have to give, it is a rather poor offering spiritually speaking especially in modern times where we do not generally need to worry about such things. Contrast this, for example, to the Bhagavad-Gita, where Krishna advises Arjuna about his true nature as a living being over eighteen discourses. What is revealed is dramatically different from what are (even still today) the ordinary assumptions of common folk. Is there anything that revelatory in the Norse mythology? There is an abundance of political and moral advice to be had in most cultures' literature and oral traditions, but precious little that is of the nature of real revelation.

Okay, but how is that eighteen discourses any different from the usual "Hey this how you should live your life" advice that most mythology boils down to? You're saying its somehow more spiritual but all you seem to be describing is exactly the same "These are the rules of how we think the world works, so this is how you should behave" that is delivered by Norse myths. Its just Krishna seems to take longer to say it, the long-winded show-off XD

He's not telling you how you should live life. He's describing what life is. Huge difference.

TheVampwizimp:
Honestly, thinking about it now, Thor was the only major god who was all guts and balls and no brains, and he regularly was made the fool. Sure, he got to massacre frost giants a lot, but that was all he had going for him. Odin was much more influential, Loki almost always came out on top, especially against Thor himself, and other major gods like Freyr, Tyr, and Heimdall were actually reasonable, even-tempered people.

Even Thor displays cunning and subtlety on occasion. Like when a giant steels Mjolnir and refuses to return it, instead promising it to Freya if she would marry him. When she refuses (big shock there), Thor instead disguises himself as Freya and when he receives Mjolnir as a wedding gift proceeds to dispense liberal amounts of violence upon the giants attending the wedding. So even Thor knew how to be cunning when the situation demanded it.

Blood Brain Barrier:

What is all of this in aid of though? The example these Gods provide of the "smart, fair, decent and reasonable" ruler may be very well-advised and extremely wise, but it is given with two eyes firmly set on the self-survival of the Norse people. If that is the limit of what the Norse gods have to give, it is a rather poor offering spiritually speaking especially in modern times where we do not generally need to worry about such things. Contrast this, for example, to the Bhagavad-Gita, where Krishna advises Arjuna about his true nature as a living being over eighteen discourses. What is revealed is dramatically different from what are (even still today) the ordinary assumptions of common folk. Is there anything that revelatory in the Norse mythology? There is an abundance of political and moral advice to be had in most cultures' literature and oral traditions, but precious little that is of the nature of real revelation.

I get your criticism, but I also think it is unfair to a degree. Asatru originated during the great cold period of the "dark ages", when the Nordic countries were poor and the cold meant that successful agriculture was more down to the dumb luck of whether you had a warm summer then it was anything the farmer could affect. So of course the actual mythology and belief system itself is mostly about the practical matters of survival, of how to solve problems without everyone you know dying from violence or post-violence starvation because what harvest there was couldn't be brought in because all the farmers had died during the violence.

Hinduism is much deeper philosophically and spiritually, as could be expected from a religion that's much, much older and originated in a place where starvation was much less of a risk for the higher castes (when an eight month winter hit Norway, you bet everyone in the village died if the food stores weren't fully stocked). However, Asatru displays a pragmatism that's really quite telling about the conditions in which the Norse of the time lived. There's a deeper understanding to be had there about the glory of dying in battle, for example, because one less grown man to feed during winter time was quite a big deal. Which, of course, doesn't make Asatru particularly deep as a religion, but then that was never the point of the mythology to begin with.

Blood Brain Barrier:

Palindromemordnilap:

Blood Brain Barrier:
What is all of this in aid of though? The example these Gods provide of the "smart, fair, decent and reasonable" ruler may be very well-advised and extremely wise, but it is given with two eyes firmly set on the self-survival of the Norse people. If that is the limit of what the Norse gods have to give, it is a rather poor offering spiritually speaking especially in modern times where we do not generally need to worry about such things. Contrast this, for example, to the Bhagavad-Gita, where Krishna advises Arjuna about his true nature as a living being over eighteen discourses. What is revealed is dramatically different from what are (even still today) the ordinary assumptions of common folk. Is there anything that revelatory in the Norse mythology? There is an abundance of political and moral advice to be had in most cultures' literature and oral traditions, but precious little that is of the nature of real revelation.

Okay, but how is that eighteen discourses any different from the usual "Hey this how you should live your life" advice that most mythology boils down to? You're saying its somehow more spiritual but all you seem to be describing is exactly the same "These are the rules of how we think the world works, so this is how you should behave" that is delivered by Norse myths. Its just Krishna seems to take longer to say it, the long-winded show-off XD

He's not telling you how you should live life. He's describing what life is. Huge difference.

Not really. Only difference is in what the life was. All very well being philosophical and long winded in a highly structured society in a very fertile environment but when you live in scrappy Scandinavia where the winter cold, storms on the sea, wild animals, food shortages or those bastard neighbours of yours might be the death of you any moment you don't really have time to write 18 pages of monologuing. Norse myths do tell you what life is; absolutely certain to end one day. Which is why you need to make the best of what you have and why you need to be more than a thug with an axe while you're in it. Its a more brutal outlook born from a more brutal existence. I'm not entirely certain why you think that makes it inferior

Gethsemani:

Even Thor displays cunning and subtlety on occasion. Like when a giant steels Mjolnir and refuses to return it, instead promising it to Freya if she would marry him. When she refuses (big shock there), Thor instead disguises himself as Freya and when he receives Mjolnir as a wedding gift proceeds to dispense liberal amounts of violence upon the giants attending the wedding. So even Thor knew how to be cunning when the situation demanded it.

Hrrrm, if I remember rightly, that was Loki's idea.

Silvanus:
Hrrrm, if I remember rightly, that was Loki's idea.

I seem to remember that as well. I also have the definite recollection that Loki also suggested it because he found it very funny. I'll have to pull out my book on Norse mythology, it's been a while.

Even though I'm probably more well versed in Greek mythology, I'm partial to the Celts. There's something delightfully sinister about the fey folk, in a just don't fuck with them kind of way. Problem is, whenever I go looking for books and stuff about Celtic mythology, I only ever seem to find stuff about how to summon the damn things and keep them on your side. Thus, my main introduction to the topic is through Terry Pratchett's Discworld series. Anyone suggest good books about just the mythology and creatures?

TheVampwizimp:
That's a good point. For a culture seen usually as a bunch of brutes interested in nothing but bashing people with swords and taking their stuff, the Norse were actually a very thoughtful and reasonable people.

Well, they're the subject of a competing and highly contested historical narrative.

The image of the norse as an exceptionally violent and savage people was the product primarily of 19th and early 20th century British historians who mostly relied on Anglo-Saxon, Scottish and Irish sources, particularly Anglo-Saxon. These people obviously had a pretty negative opinion of the norse, being the targets of norse raids and conquests and also Christians describing non-Christian invaders, so they wrote about them in these terms.

Then in the mid-late 20th century there was a major revision of the historical narrative, partly because scholarship became more international and English speaking historians could now draw on things like Scandinavian, Greek and Arabic sources, and partly as a reaction against the xenophobic and exceptionalist tone of earlier scholarship which often subtly aligned the Anglo Saxons with the people of modern Britain and was thus invested in demonstrating their rightfulness in fighting a foreign invader. The revisionist history emphasized the contribution of the norse to a system of global trade (which was truly global, there's at least one example of an Indian Buddhist statue found in Sweden) and their poetic and storytelling traditions in order to present them, rather than being barbarians as a kind of prototypical modern society. It also emphasised the scale of norse immigration to Britain during the viking age, and that rather than being foreign conquerers they had actually syncretised with anglo-Saxon culture, hence why many words and particularly place names in English still have Norse origins.

As with many alternate histories, both are correct in that they're varying interpretations of the same historical record. The traditional history played up the violence and barbarism of norse culture, while the revisionist history downplayed and tried to ignore it. The truth is, we have plenty of evidence that the norse were a very violent culture in which war and raiding played a big role, and plenty of evidence that they also had a rich mercantile, cultural and artistic tradition and that they valued much more than just war and fighting.

ctrl + f
penis

If you ain't finding results you're reading watered down myths

Mythologies with lots of penises are the best
Mythologies with no penises are the worst

Best mythology is everything surrounding ALMSIVI

(^:

Norse mythology is the best one in my opinion. Especially once I learned to ignore Snorri and his horrible fanfic bs in favour of better sources where we have them. Seriously [Bleep!] Snorri for his misrepresentations.

Worst? Modern abrahamic mythology. Its just so... dull.

Major Tom:

I seem to remember that as well. I also have the definite recollection that Loki also suggested it because he found it very funny. I'll have to pull out my book on Norse mythology, it's been a while.

I've just reread the relevant part in the Poetic Edda (online here), and it seems it was both Heimdall and Loki's idea. Thor objected before consenting.

Halyah:
Especially once I learned to ignore Snorri and his horrible fanfic bs in favour of better sources where we have them.

It's not very often that there are better sources, though, is it?

Silvanus:

Major Tom:

I seem to remember that as well. I also have the definite recollection that Loki also suggested it because he found it very funny. I'll have to pull out my book on Norse mythology, it's been a while.

I've just reread the relevant part in the Poetic Edda (online here), and it seems it was both Heimdall and Loki's idea. Thor objected before consenting.

Halyah:
Especially once I learned to ignore Snorri and his horrible fanfic bs in favour of better sources where we have them.

It's not very often that there are better sources, though, is it?

More than people unfamiliar with it would realize but not as many as one would hope. We do have access to most sources that Snorri had, but he might have had a few we don't. The general rule I've noticed is that if it sounds christiany then chances are he's misrepresenting it for his own reasons. So enough to know that as a source his reliability is not great.

Blood Brain Barrier:

What is all of this in aid of though? The example these Gods provide of the "smart, fair, decent and reasonable" ruler may be very well-advised and extremely wise, but it is given with two eyes firmly set on the self-survival of the Norse people. If that is the limit of what the Norse gods have to give, it is a rather poor offering spiritually speaking especially in modern times where we do not generally need to worry about such things. Contrast this, for example, to the Bhagavad-Gita, where Krishna advises Arjuna about his true nature as a living being over eighteen discourses. What is revealed is dramatically different from what are (even still today) the ordinary assumptions of common folk. Is there anything that revelatory in the Norse mythology? There is an abundance of political and moral advice to be had in most cultures' literature and oral traditions, but precious little that is of the nature of real revelation.

Yes... but how much Norse religion really survives?

Hinduism was written down, and has existed non-stop for millennia. However, when we read Greek or Norse myth, we don't see a great deal of what their religion really contained and was about. Much of it will have been oral folk tradition, perhaps often maintained from priest to priest, etc. At the point the religion died, a vast amount of the information went with it, and what we of future generations were left with is potentially just some of the more dramatic stories because they're the catchy bits.

I'd say that most people feel like whatever mythology they grew up with is usually the worst. Mostly because it just feels mundane.

Seriously I can't help but think "man, this could use a Loki type character (which Satan is most definitively not)" when I read the bible.

 

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