Author: Sonali Khaund
No matter where you have grown up, you must have heard your fair share of stories and folklores. These myths and legends have such a strong hold over the people of all ages that we are fascinated and intrigued with them. Some of these stories are so popular that you will find different versions of these stories in different cultures. These are what we call universal myths – they crop up in different cultures separated by thousands of years, unmitigated by different beliefs and backgrounds.
Apocalypse is something that we keep hearing from time to time. It means the victory of good over bad and end of the present age. We have also seen many Hollywood movies on how our world will come to an abrupt end with many disastrous events happening all around the world on one given fateful day. Many astrologers keep professing the date of our world’s end. Now whether you believe them or not, we will leave it on you to decide.
References of Dragons can be found in many cultures and folklores. It is believed to be a monstrous, mystic creature that can breath fire and fly with wings like that of a bat.
In many Asian countries like China, Japan, Taiwan etc., dragons have major spiritual significance. We can even find the reference of dragons in the legends of Greek and Middle Eastern mythology. But there is no scientific theory supporting their existence. People in those early times must have stumbled across some dinosaur bones and confused them to be dragon’s, and thus widely believed in the domination of such a gigantic animal.
Vampires bring the image of an immortal, bloodsucking monster to our mind. The word vampire was popularized during the early 18th century after a mass hysteria arose among the public of Medieval Europe where there was widespread vampire superstition. Since then, vampires hold an indisputable first position in the horror genre as they are widely followed in books, television shows and movies. Looking at it rationally now, we can figure out that this myth might have arose from widespread ignorance and a fear of death.
4. The Great Flood
In legends across many cultures, the Great Floods are depicted as a divine intervention to destroy a civilization as an act of heavenly retribution. An account of the flood myths can be found in the Purana of the Hindus, Deucalion in Greek mytholodgy, The Genesis Flood narrative, and many other religions.
As most of these tales sound like they may or may not have any reality behind them, many scientific agencies claim that there is a chance of a huge tsunami hitting our world or a super flood caused by the melting of the glaciers and drowning the entire Black Sea area in the near future. Could the same thing have happened long ago during the melting of the ice age? It would certainly explain how so many cultures could create their own similar stories to explain what had happened.
Mermaids are mystical creatures that manage to create a lot of inquisitiveness among people. They are believed to be half human (upper body of a female) and half fish (lower body has a fish tail). There are many stories where sailors claim to have seen mermaids, but none of them were ever proved. There is also speculation that manatees were mistaken for mermaids. I guess when you spend a long enough time at sea, even a manatee can be confused for a beautiful face.
Many folk stories depict mermaids as beneficent and kind-hearted, who in many occasions fall in love with humans. One famous fairy tale about mermaids is “ The Little Mermaid”, that every person around the globe must have read or at least seen the Disney movie version. This beautiful creature will be considered a figment of our imagination… as long as nobody proves their existence.
Atlantis is a mythical city that was first mentioned in Pluto’s two dialogues, the “Timaeus”and the “Critias”. It is believed that Atlantis was a rich and prosperous empire that was lost in the vastness of the sea by the force of a powerful earthquake.
Some people argue that Atlantis was in the Americas or in the Canary Islands or in Antarctica. Others think Atlantis was the Greek island of Thera. Even today, Atlantis manages to create a perfect blend of mystery and fantasy among people. Until some archeologist excavates the remains of this mysterious city, we must consider it as a myth.
7. Curse of the Mummy
Hollywood movies have popularized two things about mummies – first being that their tombs have unparalleled amount of jewels and wealth, second that mummies are protected by some diabolic curse and whoever disturbs their eternal sleep will be cursed.
The curse of the mummy was popularized after the discovery of King Tut’s tomb in 1922 when the sponser of the excavation, Lord Carnarvon, died suddenly. In reality, he died of blood poisoning not by the possession of any demonic curse. But still the curse of the mummy is able to capture the audience’s attention with great fascination.
8. Pandora’s Box
In Greek mythology, Pandora is the first woman created by the Gods. She was the daughter of Zeus and was married to Epimetheus. As the mythology says, Zeus gifted his daughter a box (some say it was a jar) as a wedding gift and asked her never to open it. But as always happens, Pandora’s curiosity took over her and she opened the box. As soon as she opened it, all the bad things that we see in the world today came out of the box and even after she closed the lid, it was too late.
Today, people have used this story to develop a phrase, “to open Pandora’s box” which means to have devastating consequences following an action.
Yeti, or the Abominable Snowman, is believed to be a gigantic ape mostly popular in the Himalayan region of Nepal and Tibet. It is an unsolved supernatural enigma that has captivated the attention of the people around the world. There has been many reported sightings of this beastly ape, but none of the eyewitnesses have much evidence to support their account.
The scientific community mostly considers it as a legend that has been kept alive from generations. The only possible explanations that we can think of is that eyewitnesses must have misidentified some near to extinct wildlife and made a fuss about it as Yeti, the beastly ape. Until any conclusive evidence is put forward, we shall consider the existence of Yeti as a myth.
10. Garden of Eden
The Garden of Eden is a mythical garden whose reference can be found across many mythologies. Accounts of the garden can be found in the Book of Genesis and also in the Book of Ezekiel. According to mythology, Adam and Eve lived here and it was here that Eve ate the forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
Many people have tried to locate the area of the Garden of Eden with the help of different sources. Some believe it was situated in the head of the Persian Gulf while others say it was in the Iranian Azerbaijan, but there is no conclusive evidence to support it.