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My sister had the good sense to point out something that has been bugging me, that “Mythology of the Month” didn’t make sense, because this was a daily event. So, how about:


Mythology Month



Month-ful of Myths


post comments, but don’t point out my flaws with alliteration too harshly…

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Myth-of-the-Month Club: Billy Goat G-ROUGH

scared goatIn honor of my husband’s birthday, this post is dedicated to a cryptozoological creature of the southwest/central Americas: the Chupacabra. 

It’s not that I question their existence, (though I do), or that I am skeptical (which I am), but the deeper question to me is, “Why do people in these current times, attribute acts of violence, etc. to made- up critters? Why isn’t there more of an investigation?” Because, seriously, think about it–if there really is a creature that sucks livestock’s and domesticated animals’ blood, leaving behind a wake of death and destruction, and is possibly FROM OUTER SPACE…shouldn’t we be more concerned? Shouldn’t we be doing nightly patrols, with infrared goggles and heat-seeking scanners? C’mon, people! The goats can’t protect themselves, they need our help!

Now, it’s also notable that these sorts of stories tend to pop up more in the news whenever there isn’t much else going on. When “real” news occurs, with all of its horror, pain, tragedy, and grit, the folklore stories are put on the shelf. When there’s been years of drug-related violence in Central/South America, creeping into the U.S. borders, and not to mention the on-going conficts in the Middle East, Chupacabra’s press clippings begin to shrink.

Or do they?

Well, some might make that correlation:

Why do you think that happens?

Huh. Guess I kind of answered my own question. It’s easier and more ‘fun’ to make up stories than to face reality; it’s much more interesting to think big, nasty chupacabres are out there chasing the livestock than to think it might be another man-made horror. Bueno, Chupa. You kept my mind off of the other nastiness, at least for awhile.

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Why it’s good to do your research.

One great context clue: Greek/Latin prefixes, suffixes, and roots.

Take for example, my student and artist, who shall remain anonymous, but we can call her “K.”

This artist was challenged to draw a centipede — and when challenged, this student steps up! Must be right! You are WRONG, sir, good day!

Challenged to draw a 1,000 leg critter – the artist is inspired:

Milli-impeded? And draws the multi-sectioned beast with 1,000 legs. Count ’em. They’re all there.

However, if the artist had remembered the CENTipede has the prefix, CENT, the artist would have remembered that this critter would only require 100 legs.




“Milli” is the prefix for 1,000. “Pede” is part of the derivations for “foot.”

Something I learned though, and would have lost the bet, too:

Millipedes don’t have 1,000 legs, but usually around 100-400. But more than centipedes. Which is probably why they don’t call millipedes: “afewmorelegsthancentipedesbutwearetoolazytocountthem.”

Here is a picture of a millipede from the National Geographic website:


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Snake charmer.

Talk about your bad hair day.


 Once again, some goofy mortal chick is just hanging out, being beautiful, and some god takes an interest in her, and she pays the price:

Medusa, one of the three Gorgons, daughter of Phorcys and Ceto. She was the only one of the Gorgons who was subject to mortality. She is celebrated for her personal charms and the beauty of her locks. Neptune became enamoured of her, and obtained her favours in the temple of Minerva. This violation of the sanctity of the temple provoked Minerva, and she changed the beautiful locks of Medusa, which had inspired Neptune’s love of serpents. According to Apollodorus, Medusa and her sisters came into the world with snakes on their heads, instead of hair, with yellow wings and brazen hands. Their bodies were also covered with impenetrable scales, and their very looks had the power of killing or turning to stones. Perseus rendered his name immortal by his conquest of Medusa. He cut off her head, and the blood that dropped from the wound produced the innumerable serpents that infest Africa. The conqueror placed Medusa’s head on the shield of Minerva, which he had used in his expedition. The head still retained the same petrifying power as before, as it was fatally known in the court of Cepheus. . . . Some suppose that the Gorgons were a nation of women, whom Perseus conquered.

From Lempriére’s Classical Dictionary of Proper names mentioned in Ancient Authors Writ Large. Ed. J. Lempriére and F.A. Wright. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.'re breaking my heart...'re breaking my heart...

What strikes me are the explanations (in mythology) of “when good things happen to bad people.” Bad things happen because the gods and goddesses are meddling in mortal matters. The deities are not aloof, watching “off shore through heavy lenses” kinds of omnipotent beings. They are involved, they get in the mix, they cause trouble with their jealousies, infidelities, and revenge. Mortals are quite capable of causing enough problems, thank you very much. Do you think it’s fair that just because Poseidon/Neptune wanted to take a cutie out on a date that she should pay the price for forever with bad hair and stone-etching blood?

Well, I guess on a positive note, she and Poseidon did produce Pegasus, but that’s a horse of another color.

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Myth-of-the-Month Club: Lady Gaga Baba Yaga

babayagaBaba Yaga. Even the name sounds retching. She is the Crone: all bone-crushing, baby-killing nastiness. That object that she’s flying around in is a mortar and pestle, which is a little bowl, made of hard, dense ceramic material or rock/granite, and a stubby club-like instrument made to grind spices and concoct potions/herbs in. Cooks still use them, I guess because grinding spices in this old-fashioned way may increase the flavor of the spice.  

Okay, this isn’t a cooking lesson, but I do think it’s interesting to note that in many stories of witches and bad grandmas, kitchen utensils are the weapons or modes of transportation of choice. Women reprsent many powerful aspects of basic human needs: they give birth, they cook food, and they guide and protect humankind. But to every yin there’s a yang, and for every story of life-giving, there’s life-taking, for every home-cooked meal, there’s a poison apple, and for every act of guidance and love, there’s a “throw you into the fire just as soon as my gingerbread cookies are done.”  Talk about mixed messages!

You know the old saying, “If Momma ain’t happy, nobody’s happy.”

And what is going on with the chicken-legs walking house? If you were going to bewitch a mobile home for yourself, wouldn’t you choose something other than chicken legs? Although fried chicken is delicious, and there’s a shortage of pumas in Russia. It’s those little details that make a story represent its culture, its time, and its society. Think about that: if Baba Yaga’s hut moved on tiger legs, it would be an anachronism, something out of its time and place. Sort of like seeing someone use a cell phone in a 1870s Western.

(Yes, children, there was a time when there were no cell phones: that’s the real horror story, isn’t it?)

I have only limited service out here...
I have only limited service out here...

One of my favorite fairy tale sites is:

The entire tale of Baba Yaga is here:

To learn more about the illustrator, Ivan Bilibin, click here: