Category Archives: mythology

Mesopotamian Myths * Henrietta McCall (isbn 0292751303 * 1991)

Mesopotamian myths keep appealing to the Western mind. They sure are fascinating, partly because of the fact that the Mesopotamian culture (5000 years ago) was one of the earliest ‘high civilisations’ and it had a vast influence on our own culture and literature. McCall wrote a very historical book, much more than the other three books above. A large part of the book is dedicated to the descriptions of who found what text when and in what condition. Also there is a table what tablets were found where, if the same texts were found somewhere else too, when they were written, how large they are, etc. Just like in the other books in these series, McCall retells the myths and tales thus making you familiar with heroes, semi-gods, gods, etc. Wonderfull are the stories about rebellious gods, the great flood, goddesses falling in love with humans and over and over again reminding of stories familiar to us in another way. A very nice book to read. <26/9/05>

Hindu Myths * Wendy Doniger-O’Flaherty (1975 penguin classics * isbn 0140443061)

After reading Daniélou’s Hindu Polytheism I wanted to read a book with Hindu myths. I was disappointed with how few there are actually available. Amazon doesn’t have too good critics about this book. The writer would approach the myths with an approach that scholars use to investigate works of Shakespeare or Dante. Also she would put too much stress on sexual symbolism in the Hindu myths. The Wikipedia article about the writer is even rather critical. With this in mind, I am not really disappointed about the book. The myths are catagorized per divinity, every separate myth is introduced well enough in my opinion and the translations are readable. Indeed almost every given myth has something sexual about it, which becomes a bit irritating after a while, but overall this is a nice collection of Hindu myths for a good price. I am still planning to get another collection, but since I could this one rapidly and second-hand, I am surely not disappointed. <20/11/06><2>

Persian Myths * Vesta Sarkhosh Curtis (isbn 0292711581 * 1993)

Persian Myths is a subject I am not totally unfamiliar with, but I am certainly no expert. Exactly a year ago I reviewed another book about Persian mythology and also I have some Zoroastrian literature. Just like The Wise Lord Of The Sky this booklet is mostly about the pre-Zoroastrian Persia (nowadays Iran). Curtis re-tells tales and myths and while doing this you become familiar with the most important deities, characters, etc. It is a nice book to have on the bookshell, because there is an index and a bibliography and the book itself is definately worth a read. <26/9/05>

Wise Lord Of The Sky: Persian Myth * Tony Allan (isbn 0705436330)

I bought the Dutch translation this book on a “mega-book-manifestation”. I don’t know about other countries, but in the Netherlands (and for example Germany) we have cheap bookshops that sell overstocks, books that ran out of the ‘fixed price time’, reprints and the like. We call them “white bookshops” or “book-discount”. Since a few years there are such sales in massive halls for a few days. On one of the biggest of these I ran into this book. It is a real ‘white bookshop book’, meant for a large audience that isn’t looking for highly informative books, but cheaper books with a lot of images and a large size (‘look books’ instead of ‘read books’). Over the years these mass-productions got better, so once a while I run into one that appeals to me too. When I saw this one, the first thought that popped into my head was that I not only didn’t have a book with Persian myths yet, but I didn’t know of any either. At first sight the book looked a little cheap as described above. Still, in it there are myths about the creation of the world, the origin of good and evil, the first man, etc. Mostly from the pre-Zoroastrian time too. The myths are retold; readable, but of course you don’t get the original atmosphere. Still the texts are very interesting and you can see much similarities with later “Indo-European” mythology. Further in the book the stories are mostly hero-epics from the “Shah Name”, an 11th century writing which title means “Book Of Kings” by the poet Firdawsi/Ferdosi. “Wise Lord of The Sky” has a good index, bibliographical information and a short dictionary, so all in all not a bad buy! The Amazon version is $ 10,- for 144 10.25×9.5 inch pages, so… <10/9/04>

De Natuurlijke Tijd * Peter Toonen (isbn 9075636393)

It seems that there is no English version of this book yet. Peter Toonen is a Dutch writer/journalist, but also an aurareader. He appears to be an all-round seeker for knowledge/information and his book touches numerous different fields of it. Apparently the book seemed to me very new-age and in fact it is, but this is definately a different and better book than anything from the new-age corner that I ever laid my eyes on. Not too much of the ‘fluffy bunny talk’, but actually a pretty difficult book.

So, you may wonder, what is it about then? Well, the title means “the natural time” and the subtitle says “messages from the Mayas for the New Age”. I first thought that this was a book about the Maya-calenders, but this isn’t really true. As a matter of fact, the purpose of this book seems to be twofold. The writer would like to see our unnatural, artificial and actually useless Gregorian calender replaced by the much more natural “Synchrone Order”, the “Dreamspell calender” of José Argüelles (the famous Maya expert) based on the 13 Moons calender of the Mayas. The second idea behind the book is informing it’s readers about the end of many ancient calender that we have to face in our lifetimes. All of the many (post-)Mayan calenders, Egyptian, Chinese and other calenders all end on 21 december 2012. Toonen explains why, what may be the results of these ‘whys’ and has advices for what to do until that time. Many experts think the earth will be destroyed like at the demise of Atlantis and indeed there are several (cosmological) facts that make this theory frightingly credible. Toonen foresees big changes too, but he is more optimistic about the outcome for the human race. Anyway, I suggest you should read for yourself if you are interested.

A bit too much Toonen takes it for granted that you are familiar with the discussed material and his previous book “What Did The Mayas Know?” (1997). Especially in the beginning you get a lot of terms and sayings that you (or at least myself) are not familiar with. “Dreamspell”, “wavespell”, “bhaktum”, “kin”, etc., etc. During the book these things get clearer, but a short overview may have been handy.
Then there is the point that the book can get extremely technical in the fields of mathematics, science, pseudo- science, astronomy and astrology and the information comes in dizzying amounts. These subjects aren’t even the only ones dealt with, because there is also a lot of mythology, folklore, history, archealogy, zoology and quite a lot of new-age in the book. However sometimes Toonen gets pretty ‘fluffy’, his overall approach and writing is realistic enough for me. read more

De Tuin Der Goden * A.G. van Hamel (editor) (1938)

This book is old and out of print for decades, but quite well accessible second hand. “The Garden Of The Gods” is a book about the world mythology with Egyptian, Greek, Persian, Indian, Scandinavian and Celtic mythology. The tex is alright, a mix of the myths (without much sources) and scholarly explanation (history, etc.). There are obvious flaws, blanks and misunderstandings and here and there the writer goes a bit too much in a certain (naturalistic) direction, but in general, Hamel has been quite objective. The biggest reason to buy this book are the magnificent drawings by Anton Pieck, a famous Dutch artist of old. His style may not be too fitting for the Egyptian part, but the Scandinavian and Celtic drawing are superb. A nice read and a great watch! <28/1/06><3>

Turkse Mythologie * Ingrid Klerk (isbn 9065562265 * 2003)

This is a very nice book about “Turkish mythology”. Actually the title is not totally correct, because the book speaks about the mythology of the “Oghuz” people. A people from central Asia that spread to Mongol, Siberia and for example nowadays Turkey. Klerk is a Dutch woman who happened to run into a collection of this mythology and she was captured by it. She kept looking for more while living in Turkey. When she moved back to the Netherlands she has thaught Turkish for many years and still she acts as interpreter. After many years she decided to write a book about the subject, because it is largely unknown in the Netherlands.

The first half is a wonderfull and very interesting introduction into “Turkish mythology”. Klerk writes about history of the peoples, important persons in this history, how the texts came to us, the Asian singer-poet tradtion, shamans, etc. All this is written very clearly with large quotes from old texts. It is striking to see the similarities with Northern-European mythology at times. There is a tree of life reaching for the polar star, there are giants and gods, trips are being made to upper- and underworlds and souls of the deceased are got back after leaving alongside the watcher dog of the underworld. Some happenings are quite like Western myths. And the most eye-catching thing is that the “Gök-Türk” look a lot like runes! Klerk proves that she has understand the mythology well and writes well about it. She does miss possible references to initiation practises.

The second half consists of eight stories in translation. After the first story of creation which is much like the Biblical story of Adam and Eve, these are mostly heroic stories of fights against monsters and wars between peoples. Rather bloody all by the way. read more

Celtic / Norse / Persian / Mesopotamian myths

Celtic Myths * Miranda Jane Aldhouse-Green * isbn 0292727542 * 1994
Norse Myths * Raymond Ian Page * isbn 0292755465 * 1991
Persian Myths * Vesta Sarkhosh Curtis * isbn 0292711581 * 1993
Mesopotamian Myths * Henrietta McCall * isbn 0292751303 * 1991

Speaking of inflation. The first owner of these booklets bought Dutch translations in september 1996 for Æ’ 5,- each (a ticket is still in one of the books). 9 Years later, I pay € 5,- (euro) for every book second hand! That is 2,20371 times as much and that for second hand copies…

But the books have hardly been opened, they didn’t turn yellow, there are no stains in it and on first sight they seemed interesting enough to me to buy, even while every book is only about 80 pages. Because I thought this was a complete series, I bought them all. Now I see that there are at least two more about Egyptian and Greek myths. Oh well. read more