Tag Archives: neglected epic myths


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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 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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Balladeer’s Blog’s examination of an epic myth of the Nyanga people of Africa.


MwindoMwindo is yet another semi-divine hero from global mythology. This epic will explore his unusual birth, his heroic deeds and victories over various monsters and hostile gods.

Many of the myths from Africa survived mostly in oral form until comparatively recent decades, so there are even more variations of African epics than readers may be used to. To cite just one example: Mwindo himself is usually referred to by the epithet Kabutwa-kenda, “the little one just born yet walking”. However there are a few versions of the myth in which Mwindo and Kabutwa-kenda are TWO SEPARATE FIGURES and are half-brothers.

masc graveyard smallerIn the versions where they are two separate entities Mwindo is a villainous figure while Kabutwa-kenda is the main hero of the epic. Regular readers of Balladeer’s Blog will be reminded of the Navajo twin gods Nayanazgeni and Thobadzistsini. Nayanazgeni was usually the hero of the epic about the defeat of the evil gods called the Anaye but in the Apache version of the myth his brother Thobadzistsini is the hero and Nayanazgeni is reduced to being a comic relief coward. 

To stay in the area of comparative mythology for a moment Mwindo also shares qualities with the Sumerian demigod Gilgamesh. Like Gilgamesh, Mwindo goes from being brashly overconfident about his own supernatural powers to becoming a more humble hero and more capable ruler as the tale goes on.

The Mwindo Epic begins in the village of Tubondo, surrounded by raphia trees and located on a high hill. The founder and Chief of the village was named Shemwindo and he had seven wives because the Nyanga considered seven to be the number of perfection. Nyanga villages had seven separate kinship halls even if there were not seven separate kinship groups in the village. This was done out of deference to the sheer perfection of the number seven.  Continue reading


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Balladeer’s Blog resumes its blog posts about neglected mythological epics from around the world. This particular epic comes from the Bambara people of the Kingdom of Segu in what is now Mali.

MaliTHE BAKARIDJAN KONE EPIC – Djeli, the poet-historians of the Bambara people for over 300 years, would often recite, chant and sing this epic myth while playing their stringed instruments called ngoni.

A. The future father of Bakaridjan Kone is a noble-born farmer in Disoro Nko. He grows tired of his agrarian lifestyle and his wives. (“Segu City’s where he’d rather be/ He gets allergic smelling hay” Had to be said.) Hearing that Da Monzon, the great ruler of the Kingdom of Segu, knows how to create gold, the disenchanted farmer goes to Segu City and becomes part of the court of Da Monzon, only to learn the gold story is not true.

A ngoni instrument

A ngoni

B. Kumba, one of the errant farmer’s wives, gives birth to a boy. His deadbeat dad refuses to be present for the naming ceremony but hints around to Da Monzon that maybe he should provide him with a gift to celebrate the birth. Da Monzon is disgusted with the man for abandoning his wives and not being present for said naming ceremony.

              Instead, the king sends cowries to the wives so they can perform a proper ceremony, at which he wants the baby to be named Bakaridjan Kone. As the provider of the boy’s name, Da Monzon has made himself the child’s adopted father.

C. Years go by, and, royal politics being what they are no matter the culture or time period, Da Monzon begins to worry that he may get killed and/or overthrown before any of his sons are old enough to take over as king. His morike (oracle or diviner) tells him that no full-grown man poses a threat, but there is a boy-child who would one day be able to seize the throne. The morike advises Da Monzon to find a boy who is tough enough to not cry out when his foot is pierced by the king’s spear. THAT is the boy who might overthrow the king. Continue reading


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Iroquois longhouse interiorHODADEION PART 11: THE WRATH OF HODADEION – As the demigod Hodadeion stalked angrily toward the large longhouse lodge in which the cannibal wizards and their women were tormenting his younger brother Otgoe, he had but one regret. That was that the Chief of the cannibal wizards, Dagwahgweoses, was away at his private lodge and would need to be dealt with separately.  

On the plus side, the absence of the long-eyebrowed leader of the vile sorcerors made Hodadeion feel sure that his own magic powers would be strong enough to overcome the entire village of cannibal wizards.

The demigod burst into the longhouse lodge before him and angrily took in the tableau of his brother Otgoe bound and being tortured with firebrands. The firebrands brought forth tears from Otgoe and, as the wampum-god, Otgoe’s tears, spit and mucous manifested as precious wampum.

One of the women of the village noticed the way Otgoe’s eyes lit up at the entrance of his older brother and drew everyone’s attention to the new arrival. The cannibal wizards ceased their smoking and the women ceased torturing their bound victim with firebrands.

Hodadeion was concentrating intently, partly speaking and partly singing his latest conjuration. After a few verbal challenges went ignored by the god of magic the cannibal wizards tried to stir themselves from their seated position to attack the intruder. Continue reading


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pile of human bonesHODADEION PART 10 – THE CANNIBAL WIZARDS – Now safely on the northern side of Niagara Falls following his battle with the whirlwind, the demigod Hodadeion continued walking toward the northeast.

The god of magic knew he was getting closer and closer to the home village of the cannibal wizards who had abducted his younger brother, the wampum god Otgoe. Hodadeion could tell that from the greater frequency with which he came upon empty villages which the cannibal wizards had depopulated by feasting on all the inhabitants.  Continue reading


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 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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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  Continue reading


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Iroquois longhouse lodge villageSince these items have proven so popular here’s another of my neglected epic myths presented in chapter format.

PART ONE: THE GOD OF MAGIC – The demigod Hodadeion was the son of the creator deity Tharonhiawakon and a mortal woman. He and his siblings discover their mother’s village to be deserted, the latest victim of a coven of cannibalistic wizards. Hodadeion sets out to slay the wizards and to see if any trace of life remains in other villages. CLICK HERE 

PART TWO: THE WASP-MEN – Hodadeion comes across a few more deserted villages and then gets attacked by the Wasp-Men, winged insectoid humanoids. CLICK HERE

PART THREE: THE WIZARD HODIADATGON – Hodadeion finds his path barred by an evil master of “otgon” – negative or dark life energy. To continue on his quest the hero must defeat Hodiadatgon in a duel of magic. CLICK HERE  Continue reading


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Philippines Map 3Here’s another piece in the tradition of Balladeer’s Blog’s guides to my examinations of the epic myths about Nayanazgeni, the Navajo War God and Pele & Hi’iaka, the Hawaiian volcano goddess and her sister.

I. PART ONE – After Baybayan’s miraculous birth and rapid growth the demigod travels the Philippines performing miracles and gathering a huge band of followers around him. Soon, the day of apocalyptic danger arrives. CLICK HERE   

II. PART TWO – As Baybayan performs a multitude of wedding ceremonies for his disciples all the merriment ends with the arrival of the gigantic, world-destroying monster called the Makadingding. CLICK HERE   Continue reading


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