Category Archives: Mythology

MYTHS OF FIJI: GODS AND OTHER ENTITIES ON THE SOUL’S JOURNEY

FOR BALLADEER’S BLOG’S LOOK AT OVER TWENTY FIJIAN GODS CLICK HERE

Fiji 4The people of Fiji believed in an epic journey for the souls of the deceased. That journey is even more detailed than the Soul’s Journey envisioned by the Tupari of Brazil.

I. For four days the spirit of the deceased lingers in the vicinity of its host body’s death. Then it begins the long and perilous journey to Mbulu, the land of the dead.

II. Upon reaching the headlands at Naithobokoboko the spirit encounters the goddess LEWALEVU. This deity tries to prevent the soul from proceeding unless she is propitiated by offerings of leaves.

III. If the deceased successfully passes Lewalevu it next encounters the sandalwood tree at Vuniyasikinikini. The spirit is required to pinch the bark of the Yasi/ sandalwood tree with its fingernails.

              If the nails are long and sharp enough to sink into the bark it proves the person did not do much fighting or hard work in life. If its nails are short and dull it proves the deceased worked and fought hard in life and may continue their journey.

IV. Next awaits the goddess NANG-GA NANG-GA, the Devourer of Bachelors. Nang-ga Nang-ga sits on a black rock by the edge of the sea. On one side of her stone perch lap the ocean’s waves and on the other side steep jagged cliffs jut up to the skies. Continue reading

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VIETNAMESE MYTHS: A WAR BETWEEN GODS

A WAR BETWEEN GODS 

Vietnam mapCANTO ONE – The jungle and mountain god Tan Vien was accompanying the semi-divine Emperor Hung Vuong XVIII on a Royal Hunt. A turn of fate puts them in a position to save the imperiled son of Long Vuong, the chief sea god. CLICK HERE

CANTO TWO – Tan Vien and Thuy Tinh, the god of the monsoon rains, both fall in love with Mi Nuong, the daughter of Emperor Hung Vuong XVIII. Against the backdrop of their growing rivalry, Thuy Tinh’s father Long Vuong honors Tan Vien for saving his son. CLICK HERE 

CANTO THREE – Tan Vien, Thuy Tinh and the patriarch of the Thuc family are among the suitors competing in various contests for the hand of Mi Nuong. CLICK HERE 

CANTO FOUR – As the final two remaining suitors, Tan Vien and Thuy Tinh are pitted against each other in a contest of power and in a quest for obscure relics. CLICK HERE  Continue reading

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FIJIAN GOD ROKOMAUTU

FOR BALLADEER’S BLOG’S LOOK AT OVER TWENTY MORE GODS OF FIJI CLICK HERE

Fiji IslandsROKOMAUTU – A son of the supreme deity Ndengei by his sister. This deity was born from his mother’s elbow as another example of birthing oddities in world mythology. Rokomautu was so headstrong he tried to force even his own parents to worship him. 

Rokomautu falls into the mythological category that Balladeer’s Blog’s readers will remember as a Divine Geographer. When Ndengei first created the world the land was featureless, so he sent his son Rokomautu to provide character. The god sculpted the Earth’s various geographic features. Continue reading

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JOE MAGARAC: NEGLECTED AMERICAN FOLKTALE

Joe MagaracLabor Day weekend seemed like the appropriate time to post my long-delayed look at neglected working class folk hero Joe Magarac. This figure was the Steel Mill equivalent of Paul Bunyan and John Henry.

Though mostly associated with Polish-American steel workers in Pittsburgh, PA the general figure of a literal “man of steel” helping and protecting his coworkers can be found from the East Coast through the American Midwest. Sometimes the figure is Croation or some other ethnicity instead of Polish. 

Written versions of Joe Magarac and/or similar steel worker tall tales seem to have started around 1930 or 1931. Oral legends about such figures – but not specifically Joe Magarac – have been dated as early as the 1890s.

Vintage advertisements from tattered old newspapers indicate that such Man of Steel imagery may have been used for the steel industry prior to World War One. This “Which came first, the chicken or the egg” dilemma for Joe Magarac and other Steel Men puts one in mind of the quandary surrounding Billiken lore.        

Joe Magarac statueAs a lame play on words since this is Labor Day season I’ll present Joe Magarac’s origin and then depict his tales as “Labors” like in The Labors of Hercules.

BIRTH – Joe Magarac supposedly sprang into existence from a mound of iron ore and – depending on the version – that mound was either in Pittsburgh or the Old Country. Magarac emerged from the melting mound fully grown and spoke broken English like so many of the other Polish steel workers. He was called into being by the urgent need to catch up on production since the current shift had fallen dangerously behind.

Joe was 7 or 8 feet tall, his flesh was like solid steel, his torso was as wide as a smoke-stack and his arms were as thick as railroad ties. His surname Magarac meant “mule” in the workhorse sense, referring to his stamina. Joe’s appetite was such that he carried his lunch in a washtub instead of a standard lunch box.

Magarac’s favorite leisure time activity was polka-dancing and halushkis were his favorite food.

THE LABORS OF JOE MAGARAC:   Continue reading

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AUGUST 15th: THE MOON GODDESS AND YI THE DIVINE ARCHER

 I.WHAT’S UP WITH YI?  – Yi the Divine Archer from Chinese mythology deserves to be remembered in one breath with some of the other great heroes and monster slayers from belief systems around the world. Most people are only familiar with his feat of shooting down multiple suns that appeared in the sky one day, but this article will provide a light- hearted look at all of his fantastic adventures. 

Yi is pronounced “Yee” according to some sources, but according to others it’s pronounced “EEE”, so you can insert your own Ned Beatty joke here. (Mine would go like this:  REDNECK: C’mon, ya fat little hog, what’s the name of the Divine Archer in Chinese mythology?    NED BEATTY: EEEEEE! )

Yi was of semi- divine birth, but since “Yi the Semi- Divine Archer” doesn’t have the same ring to it, we’ll stick to his better- known nickname. Yi performed most of his heroic feats for the Chinese ruler Yao, the godling son of the supreme deity Huang Di. Yao would be remembered as the first of the Three Sage Kings in Chinese legends.   

2. OFF- BROADWAY – Two of Yi’s earliest adventures after reaching manhood presented him with the weapons he would be most associated with forever after. Yi saved the people of Yao’s kingdom from a monstrous tiger, from whose bones he carved his indestructible bow. Conveniently his next adventure involved slaying a rogue dragon, from whose tendons he crafted thousands of unbreakable shafts, then affixed arrowheads and feathers to the two ends.  Continue reading

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SHARK GOD OF FIJI: NDAKUWANG-GA

For more than 20 other gods from Fiji see my blog post HERE 

Ndakuwang gaNDAKUWANG-GA – The chief shark god of Fiji. Ndakuwang-Ga established his preeminence by defeating in battle all the other shark deities which guarded particular islands. The only figure to ever beat Ndakuwang-Ga in combat was the octopus god of Kandavu Island. For centuries fishermen from there were considered immune to any and all shark attacks.

Though Ndakuwang-Ga mostly travels in the form of a shark his true form is that of a handsome, muscular Fijian man. His tattoos reveal his godly nature. 

Just as a rainbow on land is attributed to the supreme deity Ndengei a rainbow at sea is credited to Ndakuwang-Ga. Supposedly this shark god and all his subordinate shark deities take the thighs of all their human victims to the reef near Yandua for the shark-priests to retrieve and eat. 

The cycle of myths involving Ndakuwang-Ga features countless instances of him saving his worshippers from sinking ships at sea by letting them ride his back to shore. A reverse of that situation involved a canoe-full of Fijians from Yasawa who paddled to an island rich with coconuts, this deity’s favorite offering. The travelers failed to give any to the shark-god so in revenge he overturned their canoe and devoured all but their leader. That man was condemned to labor for eternity at Nathawa, Yandua,  making and serving coconut offerings to Ndakuwang-Ga. Continue reading

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RAVURAVU: FIJIAN GOD

Balladeer’s Blog’s recent look at The Gods of Fiji has been a hit! For another deity from Fiji here is Ravuravu, whom I also went ahead and added to the main article. For more than 20 other gods from Fiji see my blog post HERE

Fiji 2RAVURAVU – One of the evil deities defeated and driven from Skyland by the demigod Tuilakemba.

Ravuravu was the patron god of murderers and after his initial fall from Skyland he assumed human form and lurked in Navukeilagi, where he killed several men and women. Continue reading

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