Definitions and Origins

Types of Myths: Creation, Gods, and Heroes

What is the nature of deity myths?

All cultures have gods and/or goddesses who in some sense control the universe. Many of these cultures have elaborate pantheons, divine families, or collections of deities with particular attributes and/or responsibilities. In ancient Egypt one such pantheon was made up of eight gods and goddesses known as the Ogdoad (“The Eight”). In Greece the pantheon headed by Zeus was given the name “Olympians” in reference to Mount Olympus, where they were said to have lived. subtypes of deities are many in most pantheons. The creator is ubiquitous. The Great Mother, such as Gaia in pre-Olympian Greek mythology, is important in cultures that stress the dominance of Earth-based power over the might of the deities of the sky. The Trickster, a popular figure who takes many forms especially in Africa and Native North America, is amoral and dangerous, but creative and always capable of changing shapes. Ananse—the Spider—is an African trickster. Raven and Coyote are examples of the Native American form.


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