Every culture in the world has its own myths and legends. For the most part, these stories clash wildly with one another because they were created in different parts of the world for different reasons.
The Hindus have their own myths and beliefs about cows being sacred, just as the Chinese believe in Monkey Kings.
The English believe that there was once a King who became King by pulling a magic sword out of a rock, and the Greeks believe that their gods often disguise themselves as humans to make demi-gods with Earthlings.
However, there are some myths that seem to overlap one another from several cultures.
They represent the common, underlying narrative of the different civilizations of the world and the archetypal underpinnings of our collective subconscious.
Cosmic Battles that Threaten Our Entire Universe
Hollywood is obsessed with the idea of a hero, somehow saving the world from destruction.
These stories are often told in such a manner that depicts ignorance on the general populace. In short, the masses never really know that their world is in imminent danger.
There are, however, some stories that go beyond the silver screen. Take, for example, the epic battle between God and Lucifer’s gang of rebel angels. The fallout from that battle still affects Christians today as people get to pick sides and suffer the consequences or revel in the rewards of that choice.
These kinds of cosmic battles are not just confined to Christianity.
The Greeks had the story of the Titans, who took on the gods of Mount Olympus.
The Hindus have Indra, the most fearsome warrior and god of thunder and lightning who wedges battle in three worlds, taking on unimaginable demons to save mankind.
The idea that there are powers beyond our comprehension fighting to keep us alive is comforting, especially seeing as in all these myths, the good guys always win, albeit after much sacrifice.
The Myth of the Hero’s Journey
Everyone loves a hero, and every culture has one.
A demi-god whose destiny is to save the world from the impending doom.
You have probably heard this one, the best hero myths can be found in almost every culture, and the stories are almost always identical.
From the “12 Labors of Hercules” in Greek mythology to the charming stories of “Sinbad the Sailor” in the 1,001 Arabian Nights, there is almost always a well-meaning hero who goes through hell to find love, save a people or just realize his purpose in life.
The West African Myth of Anansi, the Spider Trickster
There is a West African myth that is strikingly similar to the story of Pandora’s Box; in this case, the box was a pot full of wisdom.
The story goes that Anansi, wanting to be the wisest of all gods and mankind, decided to keep the world’s wisdom to himself in a pot.
As a spider, he slowly collected all the wisdom and hoarded it in a pot. Once he had succeeded, he tried to hide it on top of a tree so no one could find it. Because he was in the form of a spider, he had great difficulty carrying the pot to the very top.
His son came along and told him to tie the pot to his back, and that way it would be easier to carry to the very top.
Anansi decided to do that, but as he did, the pot slipped and broke to the ground. Just at that very moment, a great flood came and swept all the wisdom that was in the now broken pot to the river and onto the Ocean.
And that is why everyone now has just a bit of wisdom and not all of it.
The Universal Myth of a Great Flood
You probably know this story from the Bible: God wanted to destroy the world and start over because, as per usual, mankind was just way too sinful.
There was, however, one god-fearing man named Noah, and God thought it unfair to destroy him along with the other miscreants.
So he instructed Noah to build a great Ark within which he could save himself, his family and a pair of each animal species in the world. The rest would have to drown for their sins.
This idea of a great flood keeps coming up in many different cultures, which makes it one of the most classic myths of the world.
There are versions of this myth that predate Noah’s story. The Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh spins tales of a guy named Utnapishtim who survived a great flood that destroyed his world by building a great boat in which he rescued his wife and a host of animals.
His boat eventually comes to rest on a great mountain top.
The Greeks also have Deucalion, who also survived a great flood that was sent by Zeus.
In all these stories, the heroes have some kind of advance warning, and to their benefit, they heed that warning and do as they are told.
The Myth of a City Wiped from Existence
Unfortunately, as a species, we have always held in high regard the ability to completely destroy. Maybe it gives us illusions of the kind of awesome power we would love to hold – like the gods.
The myth of a city that was completely wiped from existence overnight is common across many cultures and religions.
To begin with, we have Sodom and Gomorrah from the Bible.
A city that was dipped in sin that God decided to burn it to the ground overnight, saving only Lot and a handful of his people.
The same story seems to carry over to other cultures with the same ending but different means of destruction.
Iram or Ubar is a fabled city in the middle of the desert (what is now Saudi Arabia).
This was a city that had an immensely wealthy population. Their wealth and power made them shun Allah and live a godless life.
Despite several warnings by the prophet Hud for the city dwellers to change their ways and bring themselves back to Allah, they carried on as if all that didn’t apply to them.
And just like Sodom and Gomorrah, Allah sent in a big sand storm that completely consumed the city and turned to dust.
Now, if you think these stories are only limited to religious doctrine, you would be wrong. Think of the great city of Atlantis.
A city that was so advanced beyond its time and yet was lost never to be seen again. Swallowed by the ocean, scholars still hold conflicting opinions as to why Atlantis was swallowed by the sea or even if it ever really existed.
There is also the myth of the Ys, a city just off the coast of France. Just like Atlantis, Ys was flooded, but this time by a mythical warrior King. The Hindus have Tripura, which was also burned down overnight. Then there is the story of Pompeii.
The Myth of the Resurrecting God
Throughout history, our deities are known to be all-powerful and immortal. Funnily enough, however, that doesn’t always mean that they can’t die.
It often just means that they can be resurrected. We see this in the story of Jesus, who was crucified and resurrected on the third day. This is perhaps the one thing that ratifies him as the true Son of God and our savior.
However, the story of resurrecting deities isn’t unique to Christianity.
The Egyptians have the story of Osiris, the Judge of the Dead, and the Lord of the Underworld. His birth was heralded by a star.
His story is one that highlights greed and jealousy and tells of the dire consequences of such vices. Osiris was betrayed and murdered by his own brother but was later resurrected.
The story of powerful men and women being wrongfully murdered and resurrected into their rightful places riddle the history of man.
The most interesting one of them all is perhaps the story that can be found in the historical tablet, “Gabriel’s Revelation.”
In this story, a Jewish rebel known as Simon is killed by the Romans but miraculously resurrects three days later.
If you think this sounds very familiar to the story of Jesus, you would be correct. The only issue is that this story was written in 4 BC. That’s a full 30 years before Jesus did the very same thing.
Since the beginning of recorded history, historians have cataloged over 3700 supernatural beings, of which 2870 can be considered deities.
Mythology can be considered a religion that has eclipsed only to be resurfaced by a different name. This becomes obvious once you look at the common themes in different ancient myths and the current “true” religions, that happen to be the dominant ones in our culture.
But the Myths of the World still remain our cultural heritage that teaches us humans aren’t all that different.