Mythology is the study and interpretation of stories, particularly those of ancient civilizations. The beliefs of ancient man had a major effect on his behaviour and actions and is therefore of great use in understanding anthropological and archaeological data. The three areas of mythology that had the greatest effect in the British Isles were: Celtic, Roman and Norse.
At the centre of all Celtic mythology was the Earth Goddess, a symbol of life and fertility. Much of the ideology was based upon the concepts of Earth power, a system of lines and nodes upon which monuments and temples were built. The few written records are contained in the Irish 'Book of Leinster' and 'Book of the Dun cow' and the Welsh 'Mobinogian'.
The early Greeks worshipped the Earth (Ge or Gaia) as a symbol of life and fertility. Her husband was Uranus, the heavans. Their children were called the Titans.
The height of the religion was at about the time of ancient Greece when the Olympians emerged along with many other minor dieties. These beliefs were absorbed into the Roman empire in the 2nd century BC and adapted to match their own.
|Aphrodite||Venus||Goddess of sexual love.|
|Apollo||God of light and prophesy.|
|Ares||Mars||God of War.|
|Artemis||Diana||Virgin huntress, goddess of nature.|
|Athena||Minerva||Patroness of wisdom and power.|
|Dionysus||Baccus||God of wine|
|Hephaistos||Vulcan||God of fire.|
|Hera||Juno||Queen of the Olympians|
|Hermes||Mercury||Messenger of the Gods|
|Hestia||Vesta||Goddess of health.|
|Poseidon||Neptune||God of the sea and horsemanship|
|Zeus||Jupiter||Father of man. God of the sky|
Norse mythology is related in two books: the Poetic Edda, a collection of laws and the Prose Edda which details the formation of earth and thereafter man.
The story reveals that a giant, Ymir, emerged from the Great Void. A giantess was born from his armpit and she married Buri, ancestor of the Gods. Ymir was slain by the children of Buri who fashioned the earth from his carcass and named it Midgard which was joined to Asgard, home of the gods, by the bridge Bifrost. The two races of gods were the Aesir and Vanir.
Before the rise of the ancient kingdom the folk tales and stories of the Nile valley were merged together in about 3100BC to form a complex religion around Ra, the sun god. The pharaohs became Horus the son of Isis and Osiris, he embodied the power of the sun and the annual renewal of life along the Nile. Mythically by defeating Seth his right of judgement and divine status was assured.
|Amun||God of Thebes|
|Anubis||God of Necropolis, jackel headed|
|Hathor||Goddess of joy, music and marriage|
|Horus||Falcon headed god, relates to the pharaoh|
|Isis||Goddess of fertility, divine mother|
|Khepri||Scarab god, identifies with Ra|
|Nephthys||Friend of the dead at judgement|
|Osiris||God of the dead|
|Ptah||Creator of Memphis and patron of craftsmen|
|Re or Ra||Sun god of Heliopolis, supreme judge|
|Seth||God of violence and storms|
|Thoth||Ibis headed scribe of the gods, inventor of writing|
Atlantis. A sunken continent west of Gibralter.
Hyperborea. Sunny land beyond the north wind.
Lemuria. Sunken continent south-east of Indo-china.
ultima Thule. The northernmost land, perhaps Iceland, Norway or the Shetlands.