Tag Archives: mythology

SAMSON MYTHS FROM “THE LEGENDS OF THE JEWS” (1909)

Previously, Balladeer’s Blog examined Samson myths depicting the figure as a sun god and Islamic variations of the Samson saga. In this third installment, I will look at Samson as depicted in The Legends of the Jews by Louis Ginzberg in 1909. For the first post in this series click HERE.

samson after the killingSAMSON IN THE LEGENDS OF THE JEWS – Samson was born the son of Manoah, a man of the Dan tribe and his wife Zelalponit aka Hazelalponit of the tribe of Judah.

NOTE: Though the Bible and many non-Biblical versions of the Samson tale reveal no name for Samson’s mother, the Babylonian Talmud and other sources provide the names mentioned above.

Typical of so many myths from around the world, Manoah and Zelalponit/ Hazelalponit had never had any children and had given up hope of having any. The Legends of the Jews does not deal with the angelic visits informing Samson’s parents of his impending birth so I will save that aspect of the story for a future installment. Continue reading

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SAMSON MYTHS IN ISLAMIC LITERATURE

Previously, Balladeer’s Blog examined non-Biblical Samson myths depicting the figure as a sun god. Here in this second installment, I will look at some of the traditions regarding Samson in Islamic literature. For the first post in this series click HERE.

samson strongSAMSON IN ISLAM – Right at the start, I’ll make it clear that there is no specific reference to Samson in the Koran. Period. In some of the other scholarly writings by Muslim authorities of the distant past they included Samson aka Shamsun by speculating that he was among the many unnamed prophets of their faith.

However, some of those sources simply list Samson as one of the Judges in the Children of Israel chapters and tend to keep him in the same time period as Biblical tales of the long-haired strong man. Other Islamic sources specifically name Samson/ Shamsun and place the period of his life anywhere from the 1st Century B.C.E. to the time of the Christian Saint George.

samson and lionNOTE: Yes, that still puts Samson’s existence before Muhammad was even born, but the academic and religious debates about this are outside the material I am covering in this post.

For brevity’s sake I will avoid the in-depth arguments regarding exactly when Islam’s version of Samson supposedly lived. Suffice it to say that the Muslim literature in question states that Samson was born in a “Roman” city, placing his lifetime during the Roman occupation of the Middle East. This is much later than Biblical accounts of Samson.  Continue reading

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SAMSON MYTHS: VARIATIONS

Just as the Orphic variations of the Homeric Hymns offer alternate versions of some of the ancient Greek myths, there are sources that provide alternate versions of the middle eastern Samson story.

samson and lionSAMSON AS A NON-BIBLICAL SUN GOD – Before getting into the Biblical and Talmudic Samson tales, let’s take a look at the tradition of Samson being an ancient sun deity. In this context his “seven locks/ braids of hair” were seven solar rays emanating from his head like in ancient artwork of other solar figures.

            A few examples would be the idol of Helios with seven rays from his head, Apollo with the same seven rays and even Phaethon having his father the sun god wind the “seven rays like strings upon his hair.”

            In this version of the Samson story, it becomes a seasonal myth in which the sun god’s wife Delilah (or just Lilah in some versions) is a winter goddess. She causes the loss of Samson’s strength by cutting his seven locks/ braids/ solar rays, symbolizing the weakening of the sun and the shortening of the days throughout fall and winter. Continue reading

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FOOL KILLER 64: MAY 1913

Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of the many facets of Fool Killer lore. FOR PART ONE, INCLUDING THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT IN THE 1850s, CLICK HERE

Fool Killer gray64. The May of 1913 edition of James Larkin Pearson’s Fool-Killer was lacking in urgency and satirical bite, but I found it to have a certain slice of life feel to it that captured its era yet also underlined certain tableaus that are seemingly eternal.

*** The Fool Killer reflected on how the already hopelessly corrupt Democrat and Republican Parties always set aside their fighting to close ranks against any true forces of political reform in the United States. That is especially relevant for us in 2022.

*** Dr. Friedrich F. Friedmann became a well-known figure in 1913. He had come to America from Berlin pushing his Turtle Vaccine, which supposedly treated tuberculosis. He made $125,000.00 for the American rights, but after much fanfare his vaccine was found to be ineffective and his nationwide distribution clinics folded. Skepticism regarding the claims about the vaccine proved to be well founded.

*** An unnamed Chicago surgeon called for people to automatically have their appendix removed rather than wait until they get appendicitis. This call was roundly ridiculed. 

*** Pearson and his Fool Killer advocated granting women the vote nationwide. Continue reading

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KIKUYU CREATION MYTH FROM KENYA

Regular readers of Balladeer’s Blog are familiar with my love of mythology. I’ve covered many gods, goddesses and epics from around the world. This blog post will examine the Kikuyu (also spelled Gikuyu) Creation Myth of the Kikuyu people of what is now Kenya.

kenyaA. Ngai, the creator god, divider of the universe, divider of the land from the sea and owner of the dazzling light, descended to the Earth shortly after making it. Mists covered the entire world because of how freshly made it was.

B. After inspecting the world, Ngai established his Earthly home atop Kirinyaga (Mount Kenya), where the deity may be prayed to but he can never be perceived by human eyes.

C. Ngai developed a swelling in his knee. He cut it open (or in some versions it burst open on its own) and out came three sons, named Kikuyu/ Gikuyu, Masai and Kamba. Those sons were to marry and produce the three tribes/ nations which would be named for the husbands.

           As this portion of the tale continued, Ngai offered his three sons the choice of a spear, a bow or a digging stick. Kikuyu chose the digging stick and established agriculture; Masai selected the spear and learned to tend herds on the plains; and Kamba took the bow and established the practice of hunting for game. Continue reading

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ED MCMAHON AND THE MANDELA EFFECT

ed mcmahon and afpHere at Balladeer’s Blog I enjoy writing about all aspects of mythology and folklore and the way that a popular misconception can be spread. Once again the false claim that Ed McMahon (above) was affiliated with Publishers Clearing House instead of American Family Publishers is making the rounds. Every few years this story resurfaces and is often cited as an example of the Mandela Effect.

If you need a refresher on the Mandela Effect, it refers to the way that information can become jumbled in the public consciousness, resulting in a mass sharing of false memories. This name for the phenomenon comes from a 2009 story about the large numbers of people who incorrectly believed that Nelson Mandela had died in prison in the 1980s.

In large measure that misconception has been attributed to the fact that in 1987 Denzel Washington starred in the movie Cry Freedom, a film based on the real-life Steve Biko. Washington portrayed Biko, a black anti-Apartheid activist in South Africa, just like Nelson Mandela had been. Biko, like Mandela, was imprisoned for his activities, but Biko – unlike Mandela – died in prison in 1977. Continue reading

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TOP MYTHOLOGICAL PANTHEONS COVERED HERE AT BALLADEER’S BLOG

Balladeer's Blog

Balladeer’s Blog

Balladeer’s Blog’s examinations of pantheons of deities outside of the frequently-covered Greco-Roman, Egyptian and Norse have been very popular and well-received. To make sure all mythology buffs who visit here are aware of how many belief systems I’ve looked at here’s a convenient overview.

FuchiAINU  

Sampling of Deities: Shiramba the vegetation god, Hashinau-Uk the goddess of the hunt, Okikurmi the culture god and monster-slayer, Wakka-Ush the water goddess and Kando-Koro the sky god and ruler of the land of the gods.

Top Deity on List: Fuchi the fire goddess. 

Comment: This is one of the most popular of the out of the way pantheons I’ve covered.

FULL LIST CLICK HERE: https://glitternight.com/2014/11/20/the-top-gods-in-ainu-mythology/

Tupari live near the Rio BrancoTUPARI

Sampling of Deities: Mulher the Earth goddess, Arkoanyo the bird god, Karam the sun goddess, Valedjad the storm god and Aunyaina the wild boar god.

Top Deity on List: Patobkia, the god who rules over the afterlife and the series of trials each soul undergoes.

Comment: With only thousands of the Tupari people left this is a sadly neglected pantheon of deities.

FULL LIST CLICK HERE: https://glitternight.com/2013/04/02/the-top-ten-deities-in-tupari-mythology/ Continue reading

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NEGLECTED EPIC: 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.  Continue reading

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AFRICAN EPIC: AIWEL LONGAR

Aiwel Longar

Aiwel Longar

Once again Balladeer’s Blog examines a neglected epic myth from around the world. Previously I have dealt with epics from the Navajo, Vietnamese, Iroquois, Aztec, Hawaiian, Chinese and other belief systems.

The mythic tale of Aiwel Longar comes from the Dinka pantheon. Nhialic is the supreme deity to the Dinka and the first man and woman he created were Garang and Abuk. The Dinka people live in the Upper Nile in Sudan, as they have for centuries.

AIWEL LONGAR

I often cover the way in which cultures which come into contact borrow mythic material from each other to embellish their own respective belief systems. The story of Aiwel Longar clearly influenced (and vice versa) Egyptian, Jewish, Christian and Muslim myths. It also bears striking similarities to the Gnostic Hymn of the Pearl.

PART ONE – Born as simply Aiwel, this figure was a gift from the god of the Nile River to Aiwel’s widowed and childless mother. The infant already had a full set of teeth when his mother picked him up out of the Nile River, where the river god had set him adrift.

Like many mythic figures Aiwel could Continue reading

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FOOL KILLER SIXTY TWO: MARCH 1913

Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of the many facets of Fool Killer lore. FOR PART ONE, INCLUDING THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT IN THE 1850s, CLICK HERE 

Fool Killer graySome of the Fool Killer’s targets from the March of 1913 edition of James Larkin Pearson’s Fool-Killer –

*** The ceremonies and participants involved in the March 4th inauguration. NOTE: It was not until the Franklin Roosevelt years that inaugurations changed to January. The Fool Killer attended in person, another difference from Charles Napoleon Bonaparte Evans’ original Fool Killer in the 1800s, who religiously avoided Washington DC for fear of being corrupted by setting foot there.

              In another turn of phrase that seemed almost modern day – like his coining of the term “Truth Bombs” in 1910 – Pearson’s Fool Killer titled his tale of Inauguration Day I Went, I Saw, I Spewed. Because Pearson and his Fool Killer despised both the outgoing William Howard Taft and the incoming Woodrow Wilson he described the swearing-in as Uncle Sam taking off a pair of dirty clothes, then putting them back on.

              He described the fools lining up for hours just to catch a glimpse of political figures as they paraded by, and sneered at the unseemly imperiousness of the inaugural ceremonies for a supposed democratic republic. (I agree.)

                           The Fool Killer also labeled the military band a “Murderer’s Union.” After additional insults regarding the pomp and circumstance and the “glittering generalities” of Wilson’s inaugural address, he moved on to other topics.   

Some of his other targets this month:

*** The toadying astrologer who prepared a horoscope of the “present and past lives” of the soon to be wed high society Helen Gould and Finley Shepard. In the kind of idiotic obsequiousness shown to celebrity couples of today, like the repulsive Harry and Meghan, the astrologer depicted the pair as soul-mates during the days of ancient Babylon, then Egypt, then the Roman Empire and so on to 1700s France and finally the present day. The Fool Killer wryly pointed out that money can even buy aggrandizing gibberish like this.    Continue reading

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