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The Whelk (9)
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Having found the Minotaur, he killed him by smiting him with his fists

"In 1972 I created the concept of Mazes & Minotaurs, the world's first roleplaying game. Inspired by my fanatical interest in ancient Greek and Macedonian wargaming, coupled with a love of Greek myth and the 1963 movie, Jason and the Argonauts, it took the gaming world by storm." -- Paul Elliott. [more inside]
posted by Monsieur Caution on Jul 16, 2014 - 13 comments

The Fox, The Madien, The River, And The Witch

Leigh Bardugo writes haunting, Eastern-European inspired fairy tales (Previously) often highlighting the experience of women in a unfair world. Tor.com presents two new stories, the somber "The Too-Clever Fox" and the subversive "Little Knife."
posted by The Whelk on Jul 1, 2014 - 8 comments

Ursula Explains It All

"No, I took her voice for two simple reasons—she was a twit and she was in love. I took one look at her and knew that she’d spill everything she knew in the pretty human boy’s ear, and then where would we be?" - The Sea Witch Sets The Record Straight by Ursula Vernon.
posted by The Whelk on May 30, 2014 - 25 comments

Dedicated "to those who have held the bag on a Snipe hunt"

Published in 1910, William T. Cox's Fearsome Creatures of the Lumberwoods, With a Few Desert and Mountain Beasts is one of the earliest written accounts describing fabulous beasts of lumberjack lore, together called "fearsome critters." Read of tales of the peculiar wapaloosie, the spiky, hairless hodag that swallows trees whole, and the bizarrely violent splinter cat, which smashes trees with its head until it finds food. When you've been there a spell, take a gander through Paul Bunyan's Natural History, in which the goofang fish swims backwards to keep water out of its eyes and the teakettler walks backwards, nostrils steaming. For more harrowing yarns on yesterday's monsters, thumb through Henry Tryon's Fearsome Critters, which closes with a tantalizing snipet about an eternally elusive bird.
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Apr 23, 2014 - 27 comments

A quick overview of Saint Patrick and the druids and reptiles of Ireland

It's pretty widely known that there have never been snakes in Ireland, so who did Saint Patrick chase out? The case has been made that the story of Saint Patrick chasing out druids (snake-tattooed pagans) is also a myth (and Patrick wasn't even Irish). But that doesn't mean there are no reptiles in Ireland. The only native land-based reptile is the viviparous lizard, though there are other reptiles that are semi-inhabitants of Ireland. And this brings us to the the amateur survey of Ireland's lizards, newts, frogs and slow worms, one of a number of such surveys hosted by Biology.ie, "Ireland's premier Biodiversity Awareness portal."
posted by filthy light thief on Mar 17, 2014 - 32 comments

"Ireland at this time had a largely cow-based economy"

"I’ve said this many times before and I’ll say it many times again, but one of the joys of webcomics is their ability to cover every possible subject and fill every conceivable niche. Say, for example, you’re into early Irish literature and you want to read it in comics form. Webcomics are happy to help you out. At this very moment, in fact, there are at least two ongoing webcomics based on the Táin Bó Cúailnge, or Cattle Raid of Cooley, the central epic of the Ulster cycle: Patrick Brown’s The Cattle Raid of Cooley and M.K. Reed’s About a Bull. Thank you, webcomics! You’ve justified the existence of the Internet yet again!" -- Shaenon Garrity reviews two niche webcomics.
posted by MartinWisse on Mar 16, 2014 - 17 comments

The great Medieval water myth

"The idea that Medieval people drank beer or wine to avoid drinking bad water is so established that even some very serious scholars see no reason to document or defend it; they simply repeat it as a settled truth. In fact, if no one ever documents the idea, it is for a very simple reason: it's not true."
posted by jedicus on Feb 27, 2014 - 84 comments

Year of the Wood Horse and other trojan's tales

Chinese New Year's eve and its the Year of the Wood Horse according to the annual rotation of 12 animals and 5 elements followed by Chinese geomancers. Horse babies are always welcome, especially boys. Less known however is the stigma attached to the girl child born in the year of the Fire Horse. [more inside]
posted by infini on Jan 30, 2014 - 29 comments

Here Be Duck Trees

An interactive version of Olaus Magnus’ 1539 Carta Marina, a map of the sea filled with the usual ( and unusual) monsters and creatures. (Slate)
posted by The Whelk on Dec 29, 2013 - 3 comments

The Myth of the Medieval Repression of Science

In the academic sphere, at least, the "Conflict Thesis" of a historical war between science and theology has been long since overturned. It is very odd that so many of my fellow atheists cling so desperately to a long-dead position that was only ever upheld by amateur Nineteenth Century polemicists and not the careful research of recent, objective, peer-reviewed historians. This is strange behavior for people who like to label themselves "rationalists".-- The Dark Age Myth: An Atheist Reviews “God’s Philosophers”
posted by Pater Aletheias on Dec 29, 2013 - 95 comments

China reaches for the Moon

This Saturday, the Jade Rabbit will meet with Chang’e when China attempts its first landing of an unmanned spacecraft on the Moon. [more inside]
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Dec 13, 2013 - 66 comments

And A Gun Named Rose Red

"I did not see the appeal of a wife. We had never had one before. She would not be half as interesting as our buffalo." Read a lengthy excerpt from Catherynne Valente's Six-Gun Snow White, an adaptation of the Aarne-Thompson-Uther type 709 fairy tale as a campfire story set in the American west.
posted by The Whelk on Nov 20, 2013 - 19 comments

Scream and shout

Arcade Fire - Afterlife (with footage from the 1959 Brazilian film Black Orpheus) [more inside]
posted by mysticreferee on Oct 21, 2013 - 12 comments

Porn Sex v Real Sex

The difference between porn sex and real sex.. explained with food
posted by MuffinMan on Aug 1, 2013 - 36 comments

... not a circus act

Archduke Franz Ferdinand And His Astounding Death Car
posted by the man of twists and turns on Jun 7, 2013 - 24 comments

Escherian Stairwell

Take a tour of RIT's Escherian Stairwell, an architectural puzzle that has confounded students and visitors for years. [more inside]
posted by fontophilic on May 3, 2013 - 22 comments

Intelligence Tests

Is Psychometric g a Myth? - "As an online discussion about IQ or general intelligence grows longer, the probability of someone linking to statistician Cosma Shalizi's essay g, a Statistical Myth approaches 1. Usually the link is accompanied by an assertion to the effect that Shalizi offers a definitive refutation of the concept of general mental ability, or psychometric g." [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Apr 11, 2013 - 113 comments

Tolstoy, the Circassians, and Lincoln

"But you have not told us a syllable about the greatest general and greatest ruler of the world. We want to know something about him. He was a hero. He spoke with a voice of thunder; he laughed like the sunrise and his deeds were strong as the rock and as sweet as the fragrance of roses. The angels appeared to his mother and predicted that the son whom she would conceive would become the greatest the stars had ever seen. He was so great that he even forgave the crimes of his greatest enemies and shook brotherly hands with those who had plotted against his life. His name was Lincoln and the country in which he lived is called America, which is so far away that if a youth should journey to reach it he would be an old man when he arrived..." [more inside]
posted by Iridic on Apr 4, 2013 - 18 comments

How Grandmother Triode Stole Binary from the Sun

TRIODE.TXT
-------------------------------------------------------------------------
a story of people[0xCF36] as told by shaman.Accumulator.Overflows(true)
In the beginning, there were too many numbers, and nobody could tell exactly what they were. Everybody was confused about what was big and what was small, because everything was kind of big, but also kind of small. Nobody knew anything for sure....
posted by filthy light thief on Jan 27, 2013 - 22 comments

"...an enormous erect phallus, and piles of lettuce in the background."

First noticed on tumblr but now available to all, Alex Clayden's paper "Same-Sex Desire in Pharaonic Egypt" which, among other things, tells you about the connection between lettuce and semen and the Ancient Egyptian for "You have a nice ass."
posted by The Whelk on Jan 25, 2013 - 26 comments

The Notwind

Frog Dreaming, aka The Quest (North America), aka Go Kids (UK), aka The Spirit Chaser (Sweden) features Henry Thomas as an American orphan in Australia investigating an aboriginal legend at a flooded quarry in Devils Knob national park. And yes, it's available in its entirety on youtube.
posted by mannequito on Dec 3, 2012 - 14 comments

The Soundscapes of Ancient Cultures

Historically, archaeologists have largely ignored acoustical science as a tool for archaeological discovery. This is changing with the advent of acoustic archaeology. “Could the Maya have intentionally coded the sound of their sacred bird into the pyramid architecture? I think it is possible.Hear it for yourself in this video. While this is a pretty astounding feat of architectural engineering, it’s by no means the only example of archaeoacoustics that can be found at Chichen Itza, amongst the mayan people, or throughout the many other cultures who’ve built structures that integrate unique auditory phenomenon to stimulate the senses. [previously]/[previously] [more inside]
posted by nTeleKy on Nov 29, 2012 - 23 comments

Ancient Fears: The Return of the Flood Saga

"The word reclaim came up more than once to describe the rising tide. It is a revealing word, more narrative than simply descriptive: it hints at some larger backstory, some plot twist in a longer saga about our claims and the water’s counterclaims to the earth.… This story was already ancient when it was adapted for the biblical text—which is to say, it records a very old fear. Like all old fears, it has the uncanny feel of a vivid memory. It may be a memory of an actual flood in an actual Sumerian city, Shurrupal, ca 2800 B.C.E. In fact, it may be even older than that."
posted by the mad poster! on Nov 13, 2012 - 21 comments

Still nothing nearly as awful as eyeball leeches.

11 Legendary Monsters of Asia. 10 Legendary Monsters of Europe. 7 Legendary Monsters of South America. 10 Legendary Monsters of Australasia and Antarctica. 11 Legendary Monsters of Africa. 10 Legendary Monsters of North America Part 1, Part 2.
posted by davidjmcgee on Nov 1, 2012 - 18 comments

Modeling minorities

The Mythical Rise of Asian Americans The model minority myth perpetuated by the Pew research is misleading. At its core, it contains a highly objectionable assumption that other minorities do not work hard enough to succeed. In addition, as others have eloquently argued, the topline numbers and statistics hide wide variance within the Asian American community itself. Finally, insistence on holding up Asian Americans’ “success” often serves as an excuse to overlook the very real challenges that they face.
posted by infini on Jul 31, 2012 - 110 comments

Facebook used to suggest some myths are based in historical fact

Scientists have mapped the social networks in Beowulf, the Iliad and the Irish epic Táin Bó Cúailnge and compared them to networks as mapped by Facebook. The results were surprising, with all three mapping well to real-world social networks and leading scientists to believe that they are all based on real events. Harry Potter, Les Misérables, Shakespeare's Richard III, and The Fellowship of the Ring were used as controls. (Abstract and link to the paper, which is available in its entirety for 30 days, although it does require creating a free login.)
posted by stoneweaver on Jul 26, 2012 - 29 comments

Gingerbread House

"There was a time when the woods near Duva ate girls. It’s been many years since any child was taken. But still, on nights like these, when the wind comes cold from Tsibeya, mothers hold their daughters tight and warn them not to stray too far from home. “Be back before dark,” they whisper. “The trees are hungry tonight.” Tor.com brings us some short horror/fairy tale fiction from Leigh Bardugo, "The Witch of Duva: A Ravkan Folk Tale."
posted by The Whelk on Jun 8, 2012 - 29 comments

As she is spoked

The myth of English as a global language One would have to say that English, far from being a pure maiden, looks like a woman who has appeared out of some distant fen, had more partners than Moll Flanders, learned a lot in the process, and is now running a house of negotiable affection near an international airport
posted by infini on May 26, 2012 - 76 comments

The Use Of Aslan Or Morpheus Is Cheating

Tor.com asks: So Who Would Make Up The Epic Fantasy Version Of The Avengers?
posted by The Whelk on May 10, 2012 - 169 comments

Wonder Woman means so much more to me than Hera or Aphrodite.

Comics author Grant Morrison talked to Playboy about the Super Psyches of some of his favorite superhero characters. (Clean interview, NSFW website)
posted by The Whelk on Apr 26, 2012 - 41 comments

The truth is out there...on the internet.

eatthecorn: the following story is inspired by actual documented accounts. [more inside]
posted by AElfwine Evenstar on Apr 4, 2012 - 12 comments

The Turtle and the Shark

The Turtle and the Shark is one of Samoa's most cherished stories, and it has been animated beautifully by Ryan Woodward in the style of siapo, or Samoan tapa barkcloth. [more inside]
posted by barnacles on Jan 24, 2012 - 7 comments

You shall Hear things, Wonderful to tell

A decade on, the Coen brothers' woefully underrated O Brother, Where Art Thou? [alt] is remembered for a lot of things: its sun-drenched, sepia-rich cinematography (a pioneer of digital color grading), its whimsical humor, fluid vernacular, and many subtle references to Homer's Odyssey. But one part of its legacy truly stands out: the music. Assembled by T-Bone Burnett, the soundtrack is a cornucopia of American folk music, exhibiting everything from cheery ballads and angelic hymns to wistful blues and chain-gang anthems. Woven into the plot of the film through radio and live performances, the songs lent the story a heartfelt, homespun feel that echoed its cultural heritage, a paean and uchronia of the Old South. Though the multiplatinum album was recently reissued, the movie's medley is best heard via famed documentarian D. A. Pennebaker's Down from the Mountain, an extraordinary yet intimate concert film focused on a night of live music by the soundtrack's stars (among them Gillian Welch, Emmylou Harris, Chris Thomas King, bluegrass legend Dr. Ralph Stanley) and wryly hosted by John Hartford, an accomplished fiddler, riverboat captain, and raconteur whose struggle with terminal cancer made this his last major performance. The film is free in its entirety on Hulu and YouTube -- click inside for individual clips, song links, and breakdowns of the set list's fascinating history. [more inside]
posted by Rhaomi on Dec 22, 2011 - 107 comments

VICTORIAN SEX MYTHBUSTERS

A Few Popular Misconceptions And Victorians And Sex
posted by The Whelk on Oct 18, 2011 - 28 comments

Beyond Religion

Rabbi Rami Shapiro is a self-described holy rascal, with an often sarcastic twitter feed. His blog, Beyond Religion, has covered a wide variety of issues, both spiritual and political, from descriptions of God, the relationship between religion and science, the reality of Christian law, and the role of women in Israel. In today's post, he defines and defends the role of myth in religion: “Myth” is not the same as “falsehood.” Myth is a narrative structure used to convey some of the deepest truths we humans can glean. Myths are not believed in but unpacked and lived."
posted by JustKeepSwimming on Dec 7, 2010 - 35 comments

The Numbers

The amazingly detailed origin myth of The Numbers, the largest South African prison gangs. Jonny Steinberg details the three largest gangs' (tenuously) shared myth, which accounts for their strangely symbiotic relationships by dictating who may steal, who may rape, and who may judge. [more inside]
posted by pollex on Aug 5, 2010 - 35 comments

The Devil's Pool

The Babinda Boulders is a beautiful and exciting place in far-northern Queensland, Australia. It also conceals the Devil's Pool, which is traditionally believed to be haunted by a young Aboriginal girl calling for her lost lover. At least sixteen young men have drowned there since 1959. [more inside]
posted by Joe in Australia on Jul 14, 2010 - 18 comments

Way Down, Hadestown ... Way Down Under The Ground.

Way Down Under The Ground. The tale of Orpheus's journey through the Underworld has been retold so many times, on stage, in film. Tennessee Williams saw it as Orpheus Descending. Neil Gaiman took the myth on in the pages of Sandman. Today, we have Hadestown, a new album from Anais Mitchell. Mitchell recorded "Hades & Persephone" for a previous release, but Hadestown is a fully-realized folk opera, five years in the making, a collaborative effort featuring contributions from Greg Brown, Ani Difranco, The Haden Tripletts and Justin Vernon (the voice of Bon Iver). [more inside]
posted by grabbingsand on Mar 9, 2010 - 18 comments

The Trauma Myth by Susan Clancy

What do you mean by the "trauma myth"?
The title refers to the fact that although sexual abuse is usually portrayed by professionals and the media as a traumatic experience for the victims when it happens — meaning frightening, overwhelming, painful — it rarely is. Most victims do not understand they are being victimized, because they are too young to understand sex, the perpetrators are almost always people they know and trust, and violence or penetration rarely occurs. "Confusion" is the most frequently reported word when victims are asked to describe what the experience was like. Confusion is a far cry from trauma.

NYTimes: "Abusing Not Only Children, but Also Science"
posted by andoatnp on Feb 5, 2010 - 140 comments

Well (s)he did wear a dress....

Pope Joan aka La Papessa is the second card of the major arcana in the Tarot. However there were pre tarot images of a female pope. It's a myth that won't go away. There is sometimes historical truth behind legend. The Cathoic Church relegates everything to fable; especially with a film around the corner. Some more thoughts on the facts behind the legend.
posted by adamvasco on Dec 8, 2009 - 50 comments

CSI: The truth isn't nearly as entertaining.

CSI Myths: The Shaky Science Behind Forensics Forensic science was not developed by scientists. It was mostly created by cops, who were guided by little more than common sense. And as hundreds of criminal cases begin to unravel, many established forensic practices are coming under fire.
posted by Pragmatica on Jul 27, 2009 - 125 comments

The temptation to continue to lie, to see yourself as the victim in a grand play is formidable

Ta-Nehisi Coates reflects on social myth-making from the losing side.
posted by shothotbot on Jun 17, 2009 - 94 comments

No Jesus for you!

The Jesus Project, established by The Committee for the Scientific Examination of Religion, is "the first methodologically agnostic examination of the question of Jesus’ historical existence." The Project recently held its first conference, which included presentations from several individuals who argue against the historical existence of Jesus. R. Joseph Hoffmann, Chair of the CSER, writes, "I do not think we are dealing with a man who became god, but a god who was made man."
posted by No Robots on Jan 29, 2009 - 63 comments

Lyonesse - shadow island of the Atlantic

In Tennyson´s epic poem Idylls of the King, Lyonesse is the place where the final, epoch-shattering battle between Mordred and King Arthur takes place. In the older Arthurian romances, Lyonesse is the birthplace of Sir Tristan, and it is supposed to have bordered Cornwall in the southwest of England. No historical evidence of Lyonnesse has been found, and the academic consensus seems to be that the French author of the Prose Tristan got his British geography catastrophically wrong, and that he really meant Lothian in Scotland. There are, however, those who believe that Lyonesse was a real realm which once reached from the Scilly Islands to Land´s End. The people of Penzance and southwestern Cornwall certainly seem fond of stories about sunken lands, church bells in the deep, and drowned forests. According to family legend, the ancestor of the local Trevelyan family was a sole survivor who rode across the causeway to Cornwall as Lyonesse crumbled into the sea behind him.
posted by the_unutterable on Sep 27, 2008 - 14 comments

Women and children, depending on credit rating

"Women and children, first," is a familiar cultural refrain, with its popular roots in the gallant sacrifice made by the male contingent aboard the doomed Titanic. Their sacrifice has inspired poetry, sculpture, male social clubs, and, of course, cinema. Yet, this sacrifice of near-mythic scale was in some respects a myth, with survival statistics skewing well in favor of men of higher social and economic class than children (and, to a lesser extent, women) of lower status.
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Aug 25, 2008 - 70 comments

I will teach you, Walter, why I carry thorns in the moon

In an intriguing blog entry the mysterious jasminembla muses about the man in the moon, and his relationship with thorns, linking finally to a most remarkable collection of sourced and footnoted Victorian Moon Lore authored by a Rev. Timothy Harley, 1885. In the "Man in the Moon" section, we learn that, indeed, the man in the moon has been traditionally linked with thorns, variously being exiled to the moon for stealing a bundle of brambles, strewing brambles on the path to church to hinder the pious, or cutting wood on the Sabbath, among other infractions - and that this folktale has existed since at least 1157, when an English abbot asks, in Latin, "Do you not know what the people call the rustic in the moon who carries the thorns? Whence one vulgarly speaking says, "The Rustic in the moon / Whose burden weighs him down / This changeless truth reveals / He profits not who steals." Furthermore, no less a personage than Shakespeare has mentioned the thorny situation of the poor man in the moon... and most interesting, perhaps, the rather convincing theory that the bramble-burdened man in the moon may very well be an older "Jack" of Jack and Jill fame, who did not steal, but was stolen by the moon, along with his sister. [more inside]
posted by taz on Jun 26, 2008 - 19 comments

The Ethnosphere

"Cultures at the far edge of the world" (YT) and "The worldwide web of belief and ritual" (YT). Two TED talks by anthropologist and explorer Wade Davis (previously) on the diversity of the world's indigenous cultures and their beliefs, and the richness of the "Ethnosphere," which he describes as "the sum total of all thoughts and dreams, myths, ideas, inspirations, intuitions brought into being by the human imagination since the dawn of consciousness." [Via Mind Hacks]
posted by homunculus on Jun 21, 2008 - 12 comments

The Devil's Tramping Ground

The Devil's Tramping Ground is a barren circle in the forest in North Carolina. As a result of nothing having grown within the circle for at least the last hundred years, it has become the subject of some of that state's oldest legends. John Harden, a journalist, newspaper editor and author said of that place "... the story is that the Devil goes there to walk in circles as he thinks up new means of causing trouble for humanity. There sometimes during the dark of night, the Majesty of the Underworld of Evil silently tramps around that bare circle; thinking, plotting, and planning against good, and in behalf of wrong. So far as is known, no person has ever spent the night there to disprove this is what happens.". No person until you came along and played this neat interactive flash movie, that is.
posted by Effigy2000 on May 29, 2008 - 21 comments

Quantum Mechanics: Myths and Facts

Quantum Mechanics: Myths and Facts (pdf), a recently-updated paper on the Cornell arXiv peer-review site. By Hrvoje Nikolić of the Rudjer Bošković Institute in Croatia. [more inside]
posted by XMLicious on Feb 25, 2008 - 47 comments

Encyclopedia of Greek Mythology

Theoi Greek Mythology is an internet encyclopedia with over 1500 pages on various characters from classical myth, covering everything from famous gods and goddesses to obscure nymphs, titans and monsters. If the confusing familial relations of the Greek gods vex you, there are 10 different family trees to help you make sense of it all. There's also an extensive library of ancient works concerning classical mythology and a bibliography should you long for more to read. Last but not least, Theoi has a gallery of over 1200 artworks from antiquity, which I have been happily browsing for a good while.
posted by Kattullus on Feb 14, 2008 - 23 comments

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