USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘creation myth’
Game
Myths
Narrative

Dota Origins

Piece:

Legend about origin and Dota: Dota started as a warcraft 3 mod in 2004 ish made by a guy named Eul (A username the unnamed individual used on online message boards across the internet). Then it was developed by this guy named Guinsoo (another username). He sort of half quit and sort of half no one liked him and went on to make League of Legends. Then it was [finished by] Ice Frog who was an adamant fan. No one knows who Ice Frog is. There are conspiracy theories that he’s an alcoholic russian guy (the game has a large Russian community. PGG, an ex-pro Russian player was rumored to be Ice Frog since he always seemed to know and use new strategies involving new uses for spells or items that had not been detailed in the game’s patch notes) or he’s a middle eastern guy. He’s assumed to be male.

Informant & Context:

My informant for this piece is a member of the Dota community who has been active since approximately 2007. The game in question, Dota, has been retired by all save a small crowd of nostalgic games in exchange for one of it’s many successors: Dota 2, League of Legends, Heroes of the Storm, and Smite.

Dota is an arena base defense game played online between two teams, each consisting of 5 players. The object of the game is to destroy the other teams base.

Thoughts:

Dota 2 is a game I am very familiar with and am fascinated by. Though I started playing in the second generation of the game, I am familiar with the fact that it has an unconventional origin. That is to say, it surfaced as a community mod to a specific level in Blizzard’s title, Warcraft III. I had heard the name Ice Frog referenced as the divine creator of the game during my time playing it and find it fascinating that they have not come forward to reveal their identity—since they are responsible for what has become the most popular genre in the history of video games in term of the sheer number of players.

Earth cycle
Myths
Narrative
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Little Sparrow

Little Sparrow

Informant: So there were these animals who were doing whatever they damn well pleased and God got mad at them and said “your not following out rules”, right? And they said “O.K well, we’re going to do what we want”.  Then God got mad at them and shut off the light on earth so that there was no more light on earth. He put a blanket over the sky to do this. So they’re like, “Oh My God, what do we do? Someone has to go and talk to God and tell him that we’re sorry”. They’re like “Well we can’t find God anywhere, it’s too dark”. They all kind of gave up except this one little sparrow said, “I’m not going to give up. I’m going to fly, fly, fly up there and try and see if I can reach God and talk to him”. So everyday he kept flying up there and he poked through just enough, his beak just poked through the blanket just enough, and then he came back down. He didn’t give up. For years and years he was going up there and he only got just far enough that his little beak poked through and he came back down and then the last time he came back down and he died. The little sparrow died . . .  because he was exhausted from trying. All the other animals were like, “ we feel so bad”. So God at one point said, “because of his sacrifice, I will give you light back, but it’s only going to be half the time as punishment and the other half of the time, you will have darkness under the blanket”. And that’s why we have stars. Those aren’t stars; those are the little beak marks poking though the darkness.

Interviewer’s notes:  

This is a creation myth that I found a bit unusual that it was being told at YMCA, a Christian organization’s, camp because they narrative deviates from that of the Bible. Though it is clear to see why the tale is included as the perseverance and God-obedience aspects of the story are in keeping with Christian ideas. The tale itself, however, seemed to be more congruent with Native American folk tales, but the informant had only ever heard it at camp and did not know the origin. Also, the informant’s role as a passive participant is evident through the colloquial language, non-fixed phrases, and uncertainty.

Musical
Myths
Narrative

“The Story of Maui”

 

            The informant is from Honolulu, Hawaii and she first heard the myth in elementary school, where she explained she learned most of the folklore and traditional stories related to Hawaii due to the inclusion of what she called “cultural education” in classroom curriculum. A practicing Hula dancer, the informant also picked up stories during her dance classes as a child. The informant also explained that the myth was authored into a song by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, a popular Hawaiian folk singer who encouraged Hawaiian sovereignty by reviving and popularizing traditional Hawaiian stories.

           

             Maui―like the island―was a demigod. Well, he was better than a person but he wasn’t a deity. He was a super trickster kind of guy; he was fun, and sneaky, like a hero. Maui is actually in a lot of Hawaiian stories, but one of the popular ones that a lot of kids know is that he was canoeing with his brothers when he received a message from a god. It might’ve even come to him in a dream, but it had definitely come from a god. The message was that if he went fishing, he would pull up a huge catch, um, but he couldn’t turn around to look at it or he would lose his catch. So he and his brothers are paddling, and Maui feels his line go taut. He pulls it, it’s really heavy, but he keeps pulling as the canoe moves forward. One of his brothers, the story goes, turns around, and because the brother looked the line snapped. Turn out, Maui had actually pulled up the Hawaiian islands. That’s why Hawaii is shaped like a chain, with the big island and the small ones trailing behind it. They descend in size because that’s what they looked like coming out one by one from the ocean. It’s actually said that there would have been more Hawaiian islands. . .but somebody looked.

 

            The story the informant retold bears all the classic indicators of a myth. It takes place in a pre-world (or, in this case, “pre-Hawaii”) setting, the characters involved are of divine or semi-divine importance, and it describes the genesis of a land and its people―the story of Maui is, more narrowly, a creation myth.

            The myth’s presence in Kamakawiwo’ole’s song immediately reminded me of stories about Hercules. The lyrics retell a string of Maui’s heroic deeds much in the same way books on Greek mythology usually dedicate a chapter or more to describe the (lengthy) list of Hercules’ achievements. The informant explained that Kamakawiwo’ole encouraged a resurgence of a Hawaiian identity movement through his music, and his lyrics clearly illustrate the pride Hawaiians should have in their land and culture. For Kamakawiwo’ole’s musical rendition of the myth, please see his “Maui Hawaiian Sup’paman,” produced  by Big Boy Records.  

Myths
Narrative

The god Maui forms the Hawaiian islands

My informant was born and raised in Hawaii. He talked about one of the Hawaiian myths that he learned while growing up:

“So one of the stories of ancient Hawaiian folklore is the story of Maui—the God Maui, and how he pulled up the Hawaiian islands. So one day, Maui being a little bit mischievous in his own right, tricked his brothers to take him out fishing. But as he paddled, Maui was on the other side of the canoe, and so he tossed his line. But instead of letting it hook a fish, he dropped it all the way down to the sea floor. And so his brothers, surprised by the large ‘fish’ that Maui caught, asked Maui what was going on. But Maui, the trickster that he is, convinced his brothers that it was just a really big fish. And so his brothers pulled and pulled, and eventually, Maui brought up what we know today as the Hawaiian islands.”

This story is a myth because it takes place “before” the real world, and has a sacred truth value. It is an example of a creation story; it explains how something came to be. This story has been passed down since the times before there were any scientific explanations of volcanoes or how they worked. Because of its antiquity and its association with an important Hawaiian god, this story is still told to people like my informant. Knowing this story connects him to the ancient Hawaiians and reinforces his own identity as a local Hawaiian. Thus, the functions of this folklore evolved: it was originally explanatory, and now its significance lies more in its cultural relevance. People no longer refer to it to explain how the Hawaiian islands came to be, but it is still a valuable piece of folklore because it keeps old Hawaiian beliefs and customs alive.

**For a written recording of this story, see Maui Goes Fishing by Julie Steward Williams (1991). It is a published version of the same story; it was written and illustrated for children.

Myths
Narrative

On the creation of the Philippines

My informant is an international student from the Philippines. She says that in the 1920s, the national language of the Philippines was Tagalog. However, in 1935, the Commission of the National Language decided to change some words of Tagalog to make the language more accessible to people who spoke different dialects. They called this new language Filipino, and made it, along with English and Spanish, one of the official languages of the Philippines. Filipino  is now taught though culture classes, in which students memorize and are tested on Filipino folklore.

 

The following is a cosmogonic myth explaining the creation of the Philippines that she learned and still remembers.

 

“There’s a saying that the Philippines look like a sleeping child. Once upon a time, there was a family of giants that roamed the Earth. One afternoon, they were playing hide and seek. Being mythical creatures, they could breathe underwater. The tiniest child of the family decided to hide underwater. For a long time, the family didn’t realize he was missing, and he stayed underwater. After a while, people moved onto his protruding features. That is how the Philippines came to be!”

 

The Philippines do look like a sleeping child. However, I couldn’t find this version of the story of the Philippines’ creation anywhere else. All of the versions I could find involved the god of the water, Maguayan, and the god of the sky, Captan. This makes me wonder if the Filipino creation story my informant learned in elementary school, with giant children playing hide and seek, was geared specifically towards this younger audience. Also, the Philippines are officially a secular nation, with a predominantly Catholic population. Teaching a religious version of the creation story, and a pagan one at that, as part of the national curriculum would be frowned upon.

 

Myths
Narrative

Cherokee Creation Myth

Adopted by parents of Native American descent, my informant has no Native American “blood” in him but still values the traditions and stories of his family. This is the creation myth his grandpa told him.

“So, basically, all the animals are living in this land in the sky, and it starts to get crowded. So the water beetle gets sent down to swim around in the water and try to find land. And it doesn’t find any at first, but then it swims deeper until it comes against something solid, which is mud. And it brings up to the surface and the mud spreads out, like all across the earth until a third of it is covered. Then there were four strings made to attach the land to the sky. After that, the great buzzard flew down to check if the land was dry. And when it got too close to the land, the flaps of its wings created mountains and valleys. That’s how the world was created.”

My informant, though he doesn’t believe the story, says it’s important to him because it links him to his parents and family, making him feel like he belongs with them because they wanted to share their culture with him, since he is adopted.

I think the story’s interesting because of the way animals existed before humans did. This gives animals a kind of mystical quality and exalts them to an extent. Native American culture does tend to give animals more respect than modern Western culture, so this makes sense. The story also shows how our world is supported by strings, which could be taken to mean existence is fragile.

general
Myths
Narrative

The Story of the Zodiac

Transcribed Text:

“The animals had a race to determine the order of the Zodiac. They had to cross a river. So the mouse used his brain instead of his brawn because he knew he couldn’t win with brawn. So he hitched a ride on the water ox because it’s the fastest swimmer. So the rat was able to jump off the ox and finish first. The ox finished second. Tiger was third. The rabbit jumped across and was fourth. The dragon came next. And then, I think, the snake like, hitched a ride on the horse and scared it. So then it was sixth. The horse came after the snake. And then, the sheep, the monkey, and the chicken, also made it across. And then the dog decided taking a bath was more important, so it finished eleventh. And then the last was the pig because it stopped half way to have a meal and rest.”

The informant heard about this piece of folklore from a taxi driver in Taipei, Taiwan when she was about 8 years old. This story is based off of the way that the current Chinese zodiac is formatted. She says that she believes that this story isn’t true but was made up for children to learn about the zodiac in Chinese culture. I think it’s a creation myth of the Chinese culture, as the zodiac is a very prominent part of the culture. It is obviously a myth as it is not fully a tale where it is obviously not real, but it is not a legend where things could have been necessarily true. I think that although it is not sacred to the informant, this story would be sacred to many Chinese people who put a lot of faith in the zodiac and therefore, would tell this story to future generations with a sense of revery.

general
Myths
Narrative

Creation Myth: Raven, the Trickster

This myth is known to mirror Christian theology and was spread by the natives of Alaska, specifically the Inuit culture.

Inuits first of all believe in a “divine spirit” that created the Raven. The Raven was originally a seagull, who was brilliantly white and pure. The “divine spirit” also created man and the man lived in a hut. The divine spirit forbade the raven from going in to the man’s hut. However the raven would continually intrude on the man’s hut. Yet one day the raven was caught by the divine spirit in the hut. The raven in fear of the divine spirit escaped through the smokehole, and thus turned black due to all the soot. This is the story of how the seagull became a Raven and from then on the Raven became a trickster. The raven is known as the source of sin and trickery to humans, as this Raven taught humankind to lie, steal, and other evils.

My informant stated that in Alaska, that many regions have variations of this story. This version of the story comes from the Chignik Tradition. My informant has heard this from elders of Chignik as he was listening to their stories while at a fishing stop. He shares this myth as he belives that it is very interesting as it is a variation of the fall of Lucifer. My informant states that the elders love to share this myth and keep the Inuit stories alive and he also think it is a creative take.

This is a very entertaining creation myth as seagull must be prevalent on Alaska, yet so are raven. It is an interesting connection that the Inuit people have made that the a raven use to be a seagull. What is also interesting is how similar this story is to the fall of Lucifer: the raven betrayed the divine spirit’s trust and thus spread evil to get back at the divine spirit, Lucifer betrayed God and thus has a vendetta against him. This legend also has a nice narrative structure where a seagull which is white is pure, and a raven which is black contains all of mankind’s evil. Not only is this a creation myth about the raven, but also the birth of all the sins in the world.

[geolocation]