Mythical Beasts of Animism
Unicorns, skin walkers, chupacabra, Mothman, kelpies, dragons, griffons, sphinxes, manticores, and Malingee are just a few mythical beasts of animism. No matter which culture you come from, there are creation beings, spirits of the locale, or spiritual beings who can help or cause harm. Some of these mythical beasts exist outside of animism too! But, do they have a purpose in a modern, scientific life?
Myths help us to make sense of the unknown. They give us a way to understand the natural world and ourselves. They give us tools to survive and overcome obstacles. For example, let’s look at the story of Odysseus and the Cyclops.
While on their journey home fr0m the Trojan war, Odysseus and his men stopped on an island and wandered into a cave dwelling. Being hungry and seeing lots of food, they helped themselves then fell asleep. Unfortunately, this was the home of a Cyclops, a giant, strong, lawless, savage who liked to eat men.
Upon returning home, the Cyclops rolled a great rock in front of the entrance. Then turned his rage on the men. He grabbed the two closest men, bashed their heads in, and then feasted on them before falling asleep.
The next morning, the Cyclops fed on two more men. Then he herded his sheep out the door before blocking the entrance once again with the rock.
Odysseus and his men knew that come nightfall, the Cyclops would be back. Unless they came up with a plan, he’d kill and eat more men. They dared not kill him because he was the only one strong enough to roll the stone away. So they sharpened a timber on one end and hid it.
That evening, the Cyclops returned and feasted on two more men. Odysseus offered him wine that the men had brought in with them. The Cyclops accepted and was quickly very drunk and fell into a deep sleep.
As the Cyclops lay sleeping, the men heated the tip of the timber in the fire. Then, they plunged the red hot end into the Cyclop’s eye. With the Cyclops now blind, it was easy to evade him.
The next morning, the Cyclops rolled away the stone to let out the sheep. He felt the back of each one to make sure no one was riding them, but he didn’t feel underneath! Tied to the belly of the sheep were Odysseus and his men. And that’s how they escaped from the Cyclops!
So, what can we gain from a story like this? Things like:
- the understanding that everything isn’t love and light. There are beings who will hurt you, and we have to be careful. Light is balanced by Dark.
- cleverness can compete with strength and size
- never give up
- cultivating strong leadership is important
- a connection with the supernatural
So having mythical beasts in our lives can be thrilling. And fortunately, not all mythical beasts are foes to be outsmarted or killed. Beings like gargoyles are friends who guard and protect us, so it’s good to know friend from foe. Let us know your favorite mythical beast story in the comments!