Embracing The Hag: Feminist Implications Of Proto-Pagan Ritual

Mythologies across the world have stories from before the regular pantheon. Before the Norse gods there were frost giants, and before Zeus there was Cronos and the Titans. The Winter Hag, or Cailleach, is an ancient deity, a goddess of winter and the land who predates even the earliest Celtic pantheon of spirits. My aunt…

The Old Gods and the New: Religion in Westeros and Beyond

Just as George R. R. Martin draws inspiration from real-world history and politics to add depth to his world in A Song of Ice and Fire (or, as HBO would prefer, Game of Thrones), so too does he look to real-world religions. Religion, a central aspect of medieval culture, is also an important theme throughout A Song of…

The “M” Word: Looking At the Intersection of Myth and Modernity

­­ There always seems to be some sort of mysticism surrounding the notion of “myths”. Often, they can seem inaccessible. They’re something of the past, locked away in a box only Classics majors have the keys to, and not really something you think about on a day-to-day basis. But that’s wrong, because myths are hauntingly…

Blood-Suckers vs. Hoppers: Vampire Showdown

  Vampires have captivated the Western imagination for centuries. From Bram Stoker’s seminal novel, Dracula, to Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire, to the ‘90s masterpiece that was Buffy the Vampire Slayer, to the current season of American Horror Story, the list goes on and on. Because the figure of the vampire has become so…

Tales about Nine Tails: an Overview of Eastern Fox Spirits

“狐狸尾巴藏不住.” “A fox’s tail is not easily hidden.” – Chinese proverb Though usually levelled at scheming individuals when their plots are unravelled, this saying alludes specifically to the idea of the fox spirit, a common mythological figure in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean culture. Foxes can be found in folklore all over the world, but Eastern…

Forty Miles of Mountain Road: Faust and the Blues

The Faustian myth, wherein one sells their soul for fame or fortune, is an incredibly popular motif throughout world folklore and literature. While the story draws on a number of earlier figures and myths, Faust by name originated in Germany in the sixteenth century. In the legend, he was a scholar who, displeased with his…

Sandman : Handful of Dust

  When a young Neil Gaiman first approached Vertigo comics about The Sandman, he was pitching a simple revival of the 70s series of the same name by Joe Simon and Jack “The King” Kirby. But DC editor Karen Berger insisted that while they keep the name, Gaiman should create a new character. And thank…

X meets Y or Z: Myth as Norm Reinforcement in Girl Meets Boy

Ali Smith’s masterpiece of a novella, Girl Meets Boy, is a love story—albeit not the one you’re probably thinking of, the one the clichéd title has deceived you into believing it is. The phrase, “girl meets boy”, is about finding the one person who is supposed to—destined to, even—wholly complement you in the heteronormative sense….

Imagine Magic! In Defense of Fantasy Literature

“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living.” ― Dr. Seuss Fantasy has been a part of the literary tradition since literature began. In fact, the case could be made that fantasy was the first literature of ancient culture. From Jewish folklore thousands of years old to…

A Good Land for Myths

Throughout Neil Gaiman’s 2001 novel American Gods, many different characters state that “America is a bad land for gods.”  The novel argues that when many beliefs sail across the ocean to reach our continent, they struggle to survive. While I cannot say whether America is in fact a good or bad land for gods, I…