Water mythology

Created by S.M. Enzler MSc

An assemblage of myths and legends on water and water creatures

Creatures People Locations Gods Literature

Old stories can be divided into history, myths and legends. History describes events we know actually happened, whereas myths and legends, though often repeated by generation after generation, were never actually proven beyond a shadow of a doubt. The difference between legends and myths is that legends, or saga, tell the stories of heroes and their heroic actions, whereas myths tell the stories of creatures, divine beings and gods and how they came to be. In this sense, myths are more like fairytales told to young children.

Water plays an important role in many legends and myths. There are mythological water beings and gods, stories of heroes that have something to do with water, and even stories of isles and continents lost below the surface. This page contains a selection of the most commonly known legends and myths with regard to water. In the final section we recommend some literature for those who are interested.

1. Creatures

Ashrays
Scottish mythology tells us Ashrays, or Water Lovers, are completely translucent water creatures that are often mistaken for sea ghosts. They can be both male and female and can be found only under water. Being completely nocturnal, one would never come across such creatures during the day. When captured and exposed to sunlight ashrays supposedly melt and only a puddle of water remains.

Bäckahästen
Bäckahästen means brook horse; this was the name of a mythological horse in Scandinavian folklore. She would appear near rivers in foggy weather, and whoever decided to ride on her back was unable to get off again. The horse would than jump into the river, drowning the rider. Celtic folklore describes shape-shifting horses called kelpies, and it is thought Bäckahästen may be a kelpie.

Blue men of the Minch
These supernatural sea creatures were said to live in underwater caves in the Minch, a straight between Lewis, Long Island and the Shiant Islands near Scotland. The Blue Men looked like humans with blue skins. They where infamous for swimming alongside passing ships, and attempting to wreck them by conjuring storms and by luring sailors into the water. If a captain wanted to save his ship he had to finish their rhymes and solve their riddles, and always make sure he got the last word. The Blue men were actually hierarchical, as they were always ruled over by a chieftain. This led to the assumption they are somehow related to mermen. Some think the Blue Men may be Fallen Angels.

Bunyip
Bunyip literally means devil, or spirit. It is a mythological creature from Aboriginal Australia that was said to lurk in swamps, creeks, riverbeds and waterholes. Aborigines thought they could hear their cries at night. They believed Bunyip took humans as a food source when their stock was disturbed, preferably women, and they tended to blame the Bunyip for disease spread in the river area. Bunyip supposedly had flippers, a horse-like tail and walrus-like tusks. It is now said that Bunyip are a figment of Aborigine imagination, because the cries they heard actually belonged to possums, or koalas. The cries of women supposedly being captured may actually have been sounds of a barking owl.

Ceto
A daughter of Gaia and Pontus, Ceto was a hideous sea monster in Greek mythology. She was considered the personification of the dangers of the sea. Her husband was Phorcys, and their children were called the Phorcydes. These include the Hesperides (nymphs), the Graeae (archaic water goddesses), the gorgons (female monsters with sharp fangs and hair of venomous snakes, such as Medusa), sea monster Scylla, and other water nymphs and sea monsters. Ceto eventually became the name for any sea monster.

Charon and the hellhound
Charon was a mythological old ferryman that ferried the dead into the Underworld, crossing the river Acheron (river of woe). He only took the soles of those buried properly with a coin in their mouths. The river was guarded by a hellhound that allowed no soles ever to leave the realm of the dead. In Greek mythology this was a three-headed dog by the name of Cerberus. In Norse mythology, this was a blood-drenched hellhound with four eyes by the name of Garm.

Chessie
A story is told about the Chesapeake Bay area between Virginia and Maryland being home to a sea monster, often referred to as Chessie. Some sightings were reported of a serpent-like creature with flippers and scales. No pictures have been taken so far, whereas there are some pictures supposedly of Nessie, the sea monster said to inhabit Scotland’s Loch Ness lake.

Dragon Kings
Dragon Kings were believed by the Chinese to consist of four separate dragons, each of which ruled over one of the four seas in the north, east, south and west. These Dragon Kings could shape-shift to human form, and lived in crystal palaces guarded by shrimps and crabs.

Fosse grim
According to Scandinavian mythology, Fosse grim was a water spirit that played enchanted songs on the violin, luring women and children to drown in lakes and streams. However, in some stories he is depicted as a harmless creature, simply entertaining men, women and children with his songs. According to myth Fosse grim even agreed to live with a human that fell in love with him, but he supposedly left after some time because he could not live away from a water source too long.

Grindylows
These water demons were first mentioned in British folktales in the county of Yorkshire. Parents told their children stories of grindylows to prevent them from getting in the cold water in the area. Grindylows supposedly had long fingers that would drag children into the deep.

Jengu
These were water spirits in mythology of the Sawa, an ethnic group in Cameroon. They supposedly resembled merpeople, but were thought to be gap-toothed and had long, woolly hair. The Sawa believed these spirits could act as an intermediate between the living and the spiritual world. Jengu were also thought to cure disease, and played an important role in some tribal rites, for example when a child entered adulthood. In West, Central and Southern Africa some other tribes believe in the Mami Wata, a water spirit thought to resemble the Jengu.

Kappas
Kappas are presumably intelligent water spirits in Japanese mythology. They are monkey-like creatures with saucer-shaped heads, long noses, and a yellowish-green skin. Kappas are said to lure children to the water and pull them under, feeding on their blood. Their main weakness is that their heads are filled with water, and when this is spilled they lose their powers.

Kraken
The Kraken is a legendary sea monster often mentioned in pirate myths. It was said to dwell off the coasts of Norway and Iceland. People thought the monster to be some sort of giant squid, living in the deep of the ocean and surfacing from time to time to attack ships. Some claim that islands that were seen from time to time and subsequently vanished may actually have been Kraken sightings. It is stated that some traits of the Kraken resemble undersea volcanic activity in the Scandinavian region, including bubbles and currents.

Lady of the Lake
The Lady of the Lake is the name of a mythological aquatic spirit in several different legends, including the famous legend of King Arthur. She was said to have raised Sir Lancelot of the Lake, given Excalibur to King Arthur, and brought the King to Avalon after his death. Evidently, Viviane was Lady of the Lake in the beginning of King Arthur’s life, and Nimue later succeeded her. As Lancelot was raised he received a ring from The Lady that would protect him from all magic.

Nessie
Nessie is a mysterious creature claimed to inhabit the Loch ness lake near Inverness, Scotland. The creature is often thought of as female, because of the female tone in its nickname. There are many reports of sightings and some people have even taken pictures they claim to be the monster, but none has been marked conclusive evidence so far. The creature is now thought to be a plesiosaur (a carnivorous aquatic animal from the dinosaur era). Many palaeontologists are against the theory, and claim that the water is to cold for a cold-blooded dinosaur to live in, and that the loch simply does not have enough food to preserve it. Additionally, the dinosaur would have to surface often to breathe, and therefore it would have been seen more often. Some palaeontologists claim it is impossible for an animal that went extinct millions of years ago to live in a lake that dates only 10,000 years back. But many people still believe, stating that animals can adapt to different conditions through time.

Leviathan
In biblical mythology Leviathan was a sea monster from ancient Canaan, associated with Satan. The monster was usually portrayed as a twining sea serpent, which was applied as a symbol for chaos. Other religions generally portrayed Leviathan as a whale demon with seven heads, and he was believed to be king of lies, or king of fish. In Modern Hebrew, Leviathan simply means whale.

Loreley
According to German myth the rock Loreley over the Rhine by St. Goar inhabited a beautiful virgin named Loreley. The river by the rock was very narrow, and hence it was a dangerous place for ships to sale. Myth tells us Loreley endangered shippers by singing, because they would look up and subsequently sale their ships onto the rocks. After the death of a nobleman’s son, soldiers were sent to take Loreley. She saw them and called upon the river to aid her. Consequently, the rocks flooded and Loreley was carried away overseas, never to be seen again.

Melusine
Melusine was a feminine spirit of freshwater in sacred springs and rivers in European mythology. She is usually depicted as a kind of mermaid, and may even have wings in some pictures. One story tells us she was born to the fay Pressyne and a common man, and taken to the isle of Avalon when she was little to grow up there. When she heard of her human father betraying her mother, she sought revenge on him. Her mother heard of this and cursed her to look like a serpent from the waste down. She supposedly got scaled arms and fins for hands, and could never change back to her old form.

Merpeople
Many a myth represented merpeople as creatures having the head and upper body of a human, and a fishtail instead of legs. Female merpeople are known as mermaids, and male merpeople are known as mermen. They usually had great beauty and charm, and thereby lured sailor men to their deaths. Some stories include mermaids altering their form to resemble humans. In the old Disney movie ‘The Little Mermaid’, Ariel assumes human form to gain the love of human prince Eric.

Nereids
In Greek mythology Nereids were the nymphs of the sea. They were daughters of Nereus the sea god, and his wife Doris. Unlike sirens, Nereids were depicted friendly folk, always helping sailors through rough storms. They mainly lived in the Mediterranean Sea. Examples include Thetis and Amphrite (see 4).

Panlong
Dragons played an important role in Chinese mythology. They were often bound to the elements. Panlong were the water dragons, believed to inhabit the waters of the entire Orient (the Near, Middle and Far East).

Rusalka
Rusalka were female ghosts in Slavic mythology. They were thought to be souls of young women died in or near lakes that had usually been murdered. They were not violent, but mainly haunted lakes until their death was avenged. Some explained the Rusalka as women that died prematurely due to suicide or murder having to do with their loved ones had to live out their designated time on earth as a spirit. Other stated that water ghosts are unclean dead, such as unbaptized babies, and people that died from suicides.

Selkies
In Scottish mythology selkies were sea lions that could shed their skin and take human form. They were thought to live on the shores of Orkney and Shetland. When a female selkie shed her skin and a human captured it, she was forced to become his wife. If she were to ever find her skin again, she would return to sea, leaving her husband to pine and die. In Ireland these mythical creatures are called Roane.

Sirens
In Greek mythology Sirens were sea nymphs that lived on the island Sirenum scopuli, and were daughters of Ceto the sea monster and Phorcys the sea god. They drew sailors to the rocks by their enchanted singing, causing their ships to sink. It is uncertain how many sirens there would be, as different tales vary their number between two and five. Some claim the sirens where playmates of young Persephone, daughter of Zeus and Demeter. As Persephone was abducted by Hades to become his queen of the Underworld, Demeter cursed the sirens to become monsters of lore. Sirens were often depicted as women with the legs and wings of birds, playing a great variety of musical instruments. However, they may also be depicted as half human, half fish (see picture). Consequently siren is often applied as a synonym for mermaid, because many believe sirens and mermaids are similar creatures. In German mythology, sirens were known as Nixes, and in Welsh and Breton mythology as Morgans.

Tahoratakarar
In Polynesian mythology, a woman named Takua was once abducted by two evil spirits, and they stole the baby inside her. Than the sea rose, and the two spirits dissolved in a cloud. The boy, called Tahoratakarar, was raised by the sea itself. Other sea spirits built him a big boat that was tied to the Underworld. It sailed by night and stopped if someone died at sea, collecting his or her soul. The boat was known in myth as the Boat of Souls, or the Boat of the Dead. The myth resembles that of Charon in Greek mythology.

Titans
The Titans were twelve divine beings that ruled the earth in Greek mythology. They were associated with the primal concepts drawn from their names, such as ocean, moon and memory. Oceanus and Thetys, children of Uranus and Gaia, were the Titans that ruled over the sea. Oceanus was said to have the upper body of a man with a long beard and horns, and the lower body of a serpent. He ruled over the oceans. His sister Thetys ruled over the rivers, including the Nile and the Menderes. They married each other and had over 3000 children, known as the Oceanids. After the Olympians, the younger siblings of the Titans, eventually overthrew them, Poseidon (Neptune) and his unwilling queen Amphitrite ruled over the waters.

Uncegila
Uncegila was a mighty water snake in Native American (Lakota) mythology. She polluted rivers and subsequently flooded the land with salt water so nothing could grow. According to myth twins that hit the only fragile spot on her body eventually killed her. As the sun scorched her flesh it dried up the soils, and it is said this led to the development of the Nebraska and Dakota Badlands; a large desert area in the USA.

Vodianoi
These were water spirits in Slavic mythology that supposedly lived in underwater palaces made from sunken ships. They were depicted old men with long green beards, covered in hairs, scales and slime. It was said the Vodianoi were offended by the boldness of humans, and would therefore cause swimmers to drown. They took the drowned down to their underwater dwellings to serve as slaves, with the exception of millers and fishermen, whom they might befriend. Vodianoi were often married to Rusalka and like Rusalka, they may have been the spirits of unclean dead. Some thought they were able to transform into fish.

Water nymphs (Naiads)
Nymphs are female nature entities that are bound to a particular location or land form. Naiads are water nymphs, and inhabit fountains, wells, springs, brooks, rivers, marshes, ponds and lagoons. The essence of a naiad was bound to the water body she inhabited. If a spring dried, the naiad within it died. In some stories naiads are depicted as dangerous creatures, because they could take men underwater when fascinated by their beauty, and these men were never to be seen again. Naiads were known by their jealous nature. A naiad that was once cheated by her husband is said to have blinded him in revenge. In Greek mythology naiads were friendly creatures that helped sailors fight perilous storms. They also had the power of foresight, and were said to make prophecies.

The following species of naiad are distinguished:
Crinaeae, which live in fountains
Limnades, which live in lakes
Pagaeae, which live in springs
Potameides, which live in rivers
Eleiomomae, which live in marshes

Water sprites
Water sprites were human females with skins the colour of the sea. They could breathe both water and air, and could therefore live in water and on land. They were thought to be harmless, if only people left them alone.

2. People

Achilles
In Greek legend Achilles was a hero of the Trojan War. He appeared to be invincible, and no man seemed to be able to defeat him. Legend tells us this was because his mother, sea nymph Thetis, had tried to make him immortal after birth by dipping him the River Styx. She only forgot to wet the heel by which she held him, which became his vulnerable spot. In the Trojan War Achilles killed Hector, and eventually Hector's younger brother Paris sought revenge upon him. As the fights continued, Paris killed Achilles by shooting an arrow through his heel.

Beowulf
Beowulf was a hero in an old Anglo-Saxon poem. He defeated two monsters living in a lake in an underwater cave. The monster Grendel had been torturing the people in Danish mead-hall Heorot for many years, and he had taken many a brave soldier for his dinner. When Beowulf and his army came, the people of Heorot could not believe they were capable of taking on the monster, but wanted to give them a chance nevertheless. Beowulf and his army waited for the monster in the hall, long after the residents had gone to sleep. As Grendel came it seemed at first Beowulf's men would get the worst of it, because their swords did not have any effect upon the giant monster's thick skin. Than Beowulf grabbed Grendel's arm and would not let go. A long struggle followed, and eventually Beowulf managed to tear off the arm. Grendel returned to his mother, and bled to death. Next, Beowulf went to the underwater cave to kill the mother as well. He managed to do so with a sword present in the cave that had once belonged to Grendel. As his man stared into the water and saw blood flooding upwards, they thought their great leader had perished. But Beowulf swam up, greeted his men, and returned to Heorot a hero.

Deucalion
In Greek mythology, Deucalion was the son of Prometheus, the Greek Titan of fire. Zeus was angry of the Greek people for their holistic beliefs, and he ended the Bronze Age with a Great Flood. The sea rose and washed everything clean, but Deucalion’s father had forewarned him of the flood. He built and provisioned an arc and consequently he and his wife Pyrrha were the sole survivors. As the flood ended they built an altar for Zeus and he changed rocks into children. The men were called Deucalions, and the women were called Pyrrhas.

Daedalus and Icarus
One Greek legend tells us the story of Daedalus and his son Icarus being locked up in the labyrinth of the Minotaur by king Minos. Daedalus had one day helped the queen to get together with a white bull she had fallen in love with, and thus the Minotaur was born. A fierce creature, the Minotaur needed to be fed with at least fourteen Athens every nine years, so Daedalus and Icarus spend their time waiting until the Minotaur would find them, and eat them. One day Daedalus had formulated an escape plan; he decided to fabricate massive wings from the wings of birds his son shot from time to time. He tied together the bird wings with wax. Eventually, the massive wings were ready and the two set out to escape. Daedalus warned his son not to fly too close to the sun, because the wax would melt and the wings would no longer work. However, Icarus was so stunned by the whole thing working so well he totally forgot his father’s warning. He flew too close to the sun, the wax melted and his wings fell apart. Unable to help him, Daedalus watched helplessly as his only son fell down with amazing speed and landed in the sea. The blow as he hit the water was probably so fierce he died instantly.

Lawrence
In German mythology, Sir Lawrence was a very good-looking knight. One day water nymph Ondine came across him as he was on a quest, and she fell in love with him. As she pledged her love to him they were married. But as soon as a water nymph pledges herself to a human and bares his child, she will loose eternal life. After Ondine bore Lawrence a son, she began to age. Her changing appearance made Lawrence loose interest in his wife, and he soon started to see other women. One day, Ondine caught her husband with another woman in the stables, and she cursed him in revenge. He was to breathe as long as he was wake, but if he ever fell asleep he would die because his breathing would stop.

Lelawala
In Native American legend, Lelawala was a beautiful maiden that was married off by her father to a king. However, she despised the king, and longed to be with her true love He-No. He was the god of thunder and lurked in a cave beneath the Horseshoe Falls, a part of the Niagara Falls by the Great Lakes of the United States. She decided she wanted to find He-No at all cost, and as she paddled a canoe onto the Niagara River she was swept off the Falls. Fortunately He-No had been watching and caught Lelawala while she fell. It is said they stayed together after that and their spirits still live in the caves beneath Niagara Falls to this day.

Manu
In Hindu mythology, Manu was a man that survived a great flood. One day as he washed his hands in the river, a fish swam into his hands and begged him to save his life. It was Matsya, an avatar (the bodily manifestation of a god). Manu put the fish in a jar, and as it grew bigger he subsequently placed in a tank, a river and than the ocean. Then, the fish warned him that soon a great flood would destroy all life. Manu built a boat and was towed onto a mountaintop by Matsya, thereby surviving the flood.

Menelaus
Menelaus was husband to Helena of Troy, before Paris came and took her away because he loved her. On his journey back from the Trojan War, he encountered Eudothea, daughter to the sea god Proteus. She confides in him and tells him that by capturing her father he could force him to reveal which of the gods Menelaus had offended, and how to satisfy them before returning home. Proteus usually slept on the beach among the whales, and there Menelaus captured him. Proteus, a shape-shifter in nature, turned into a lion, a snake, a pig, a tree, and some other things. However, Menelaus mentioned to hold him down and Proteus told him how to satisfy the gods. He also informed Menelaus that his brother Agamemnon was murdered, and that Odysseus stranded on the isle of Calypso on his way home from the Trojan War.

Noah
In the bible, Noah and his family are mentioned as the sole human survivors of the Great Flood. Noah was of the tenth generation after Adam, and all peoples of the world would descend from his sons Shem, Ham and Japheth. According to Legend Noah was told by God to build an Arc to save himself and his family from the flood that would destroy all mankind. He brought two of every kind of animal with him in the Arc, one male and one female. After one hundred and fifty days the water receded, and the Arc washed onto the mountains of Ararat. Noah built an altar there, and afterwards continued his life. It is said he lived to become 900 years old, and therewith was the last of the ancient peoples that were immensely long-lived. The story has many versions and in the flood myths of different Ancient Near-East countries, the flood survivor is given different names. Examples are Atrahasis, Ziusudra, and Utnapishtim in Sumerian mythology. The man in the Sumerian myth is saved from the flood by a warning of groundwater god Enki (see 4). This god was usually depicted covered with fish scales, with two streams of water originating from his shoulders, one being the Tigris, and the other the Euphrates. Another example of a different version of the legend of the Great Flood is that of Manu in Hindu mythology.

Orpheus
Orpheus was a man that fell deeply in love with river nymph (naiad) Eurydice. They lived a happy life together, and Orpheus sang many a song about Eurydice's beauty. One day however, Eurydice was bitten by a snake while walking the fields, and she died instantly without being able to say goodbye to Orpheus. Orpheus, saddened by the loss of his loved one, decided to journey to the Underworld to try and get her back. He met up with Hades and Persephone, and sang to convince them of his love for the naiad. They were deeply moved, and told him he could take Eurydice back to the surface. However, he was to walk many paces ahead of her, and if he were to look back she would have to stay in the Underworld without him, forever. After some time Orpheus no longer heard Eurydice's paces behind him, and he started to doubt whether she kept up with him as he hastily tried to leave the Underworld. Eventually, he looked around at her. There she was, but he only looked into her eyes for a brief moment before she vanished into the Underworld forever. Orpheus attempted to find her again, but Hades would no longer allow him access. He returned to the surface alone, a broken man, and sang songs of Eurydice's beauty until the day he died.

Perseus
As Perseus, a hero of Greek mythology, passed the cliffs of Ethiopia, he noticed a beautiful woman tied to the rocks. She appeared to be the Ethiopian princess Andromeda, and she was to be offered to a sea monster that was sent to the country by a sea god her mother had aggravated. Perseus felt sorry for Andromeda and used his sickle to kill the monster. Together, Perseus and Andromeda returned to Andromeda's home. Her parents were very happy to see her again alive, and decided to approve of a marriage between their daughter and Perseus.

Tristan and Isolde
Tristan was a knight in the court of King Marc of Wales. One day he was summoned to bring the princess of England, Isolde, to king Marc's court. The king of England had promised her to the king to be his wife. While on their way to Whales, a fortunate accident caused both Tristan and Isolde to drink the love potion aboard their ship that was meant for Isolde and king Marc. They fell in love with each other, and started meeting in secret after Isolde's wedding to the king. However, they were caught by a dwarf and king Marc was warned. To save Isolde's honour, Tristan dressed as a pilgrim, and as Isolde passed she asked the pilgrim to carry her across the river. After the pilgrim had done so, she swore to king Marc that none but him and this pilgrim had ever held her in his arms. King Marc, unaware of the fact that the pilgrim was actually Tristan in disguise, believed her and reinstated her as his wife.

3. Locations

Aegean Sea
The Aegean Sea, according to legend, was named after king Aegeus of Greece. An oracle predicted that some day Aegeus’s son would be the death of him. Nevertheless, the king entered a secret marriage, and Theseus was born. The boy however was not raised in Athens, and was allowed to go there only after he was able to lift a rock under which a sword and sandals were hidden. Theseus became a great adventurer during his travels, and even managed to defeat the half-man, half-bull Minotaur in the labyrinth of king Minos. As he finally sailed back to Athens, he forgot to replace his black sails with white ones, and consequently his father was under the impression Theseus was dead. In an act of desperation Aegeus proved the oracle right as he threw himself off a cliff into the sea. This sea was named the Aegean Sea, after king Aegeus.

Atlantis
The Greek philosopher Plato first mentioned Atlantis as an island that once existed. He stated this island was a naval power that had conquered parts of Western Europe and Africa. Some 9,000 years before Plato’s time a natural disaster caused Atlantis to sink into the sea. It is thought to have been located in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean between Africa and America. Throughout the centuries the theory of Atlantis was mostly rejected, and often parodied. During the Middle Ages the theory was forgotten, but it was rediscovered in modern times. Some philosophers think that Atlantis existed, and its peoples were highly culturally developed. They were even named predecessors of the modern Aryan race by some. It was thought they possessed aircraft and ships powered by some form of energy crystal. Modern theory sometimes states that some modern Islands are parts of Atlantis that rose from the ocean.

Avalon
Avalon was a magical island that is said to have existed off the coast of Britain, and supposedly vanquished after some time. It was famous for its beautiful apples. Avalon is part of many stories and legends. It is said to be the island where Jesus and Joseph of Arimathea visited Britain, and consequently it is placed near Glastonbury and the church present there. Arthurian legend states the Lady of the Lake lived in Avalon. It is said that this is the island where they buried King Arthur after the fight with his son Mordred cost him his life. Another supposedly sunken island near the coast of Britain, called Lyonesse, is often associated with Avalon. It is said to be the birthplace of the legendary Tristan, from the legend of Tristan and Isolde.

Bermuda
In the Atlantic Ocean a triangle-shaped area between Bermuda, Puerto Rico and Fort Lauderdale, Florida is known as the Bermuda Triangle. The area is nearly a million square miles wide, and extends from the Gulf of Mexico to the Caribbean Sea. A series of mysterious disappearances of ships and planes has surrounded this location with insinuation and myth. People claim that in this area the laws of physics are violated, and it was even suggested there is extraterrestrial activity there.

Sceptics state that the disappearances where not that many, and most happened earlier before the proper equipment to track every lost ship or plane down was even invented, including the radar and satellite. They also claim the number of disappearances is relatively insignificant compared to the number of ships and planes that do pass through the area safely. The current within the Triangle is associated with heavy weather, which would be a logical cause for any of the disappearances. Some state that the triangle has opposite magnetism, which interferes with GPS equipment and causes ships and planes to crash in reefs. Another possible explanation includes methane hydrate bubbles as a cause of rapid sinking of ships in the Triangle by water density alterations.

An example of a flight that supposedly disappeared in this area was Flight 19 of a naval air force squadron. It was reported that the weather was calm that day, and circumstances surrounding the disappearance where suspicious. However, it was later reported that the plane actually met heavy weather, and that the naval leader of the aircraft sounded disoriented on the radio. This last claim led to suggestions that the flight may not actually have been anywhere near the Bermuda Triangle. This might be the actual reason the plane was never recovered. However, for the disappearance of some other flights, notably the Star Tiger and the Star Ariel, no such explanation was possible and it still remains unclear why the wrecks of these planes were never recovered. It was however certain the planes flew near Bermuda at the time of their last radio transmission.

Today, most agree that approximately 170 ships and planes have gone missing without a trace in the Bermuda Triangle area. Other areas that are surrounded by myth because of the many shipwrecks and disappearances include the Marysburgh Vortex in lake Ontario, and the Formosa Triangle near Taiwan.

Formosa
A five million square kilometre region in the Pacific Ocean where ships frequently disappear under mysterious conditions, the Formosa Triangle is believed to have many similarities to the Bermuda Triangle. It is located between Taiwan, Wake Island and the Gilbert Islands on the west coast of the United States.

Fortunate Isles
The Fortunate Isles, or the Isles of the Blessed, were thought to be locations where heroes of Greek mythology entered a divine paradise. The islands were supposedly located in the Atlantic Ocean, near the Canary Islands. It is stated that Macaronesia may be what is left of these islands today.

Lemuria
Lemuria is a hypothetical lost continent that was located either in the Indian or Pacific Ocean. Its existence has been thoroughly researched, because many Darwinian scientists believed it to contain the missing link fossil records on the origin of the human species. At present scientists have rendered the existence of Lemuria unlikely by researching plate tectonics. However, occult writers and some ancient peoples have accepted its existence as a valid theory. They believe the continent existed long ago, and sank beneath the ocean because of geological changes. Helena Blavatsky claimed in her book in the 1880’s that the human population on Lemuria turned to black magic, causing the continent to sink and the gods to create a new race on Atlantis.

Mu
Mu was a continent once located in the Pacific Ocean that is believed to have sunk into the depths of the sea. Monsieur A. Le Plongeon derived the idea of Mu as a continent from ancient Mayan writings. Modern plate tectonics rules out the existence of a lost continent, because there is no evidence of aluminium-silicon alloys (SiAl) on the ocean floor, which would mark continental masses. Some people now believe Mu and Lemuria are actually the same continent.

Underworld
The Underworld is a mythological realm of the god or goddess of the dead, where the spirits of the deceased stay. It is known in many different languages under different names, such as Naraka (India), Helheim (Scandinavia and Germany) and Uca Pucha (Incas). The Underworld was separated from the worlds of the living by five rivers, namely Acheron (river of woe), Cocytus (river of lamentation), Phlehethon (river of fire), Lethe (river of forgetfulness), and Styx (river of hate). The latter was famous because Zeus forced gods to drink the entire river Styx if they had forsaken an oath. The water was said to be so foul that the god in question would lose his or her voice for nine years. Additionally, Achilles was dipped in the River Styx by his mother to make him immortal.

Ys
Myth tells us in Brittany a city called Ys once existed, which was built by a Briton king for his daughter Dahut. The city was built below sea level, and was protected by a dam to which only one man had the keys. But one day supposedly Dahut tricked the man into giving her the keys, and she opened the door in the dam to let her lover in. Consequently Ys was flooded and disappeared below sea level. Not all stories blame the flooding on Dahut. According to some gods destroyed the dam to punish the city. Ys was said to be so beautiful that the city of Lutèce was renamed Paris, which means similar to Ys.

4. Gods

In the old days, any tribe had its own religion, and different religions described many gods. Here is are some examples of these divinities. Keep in mind that some may overlap.

Abzu - water lord in Sumerian mythology that threatens to take back the creation of men by a universal flood, but is imprisoned beneath the earth by Enki (Mesopotamia)
Alignak
– god of tides in Inuit mythology (Siberia, Greenland and Alaska)
Arnemetia – water goddess in British mythology
Asopus - river god in Greek mythology, and father to river nymph Aegina
Atl
– god of water in Aztec mythology (Central Mexico)
Atlaua – god of fishermen in Aztec mythology
Boann – goddess of the River Boyne in Irish mythology
Chalchiuhtlatonal – god of water in Aztec mythology
Doris – goddess of the Mediterranean Sea, wife of Nereus and mother of the Nereids in Greek mythology
Duberdicus – god of water in Lusitanian mythology (Portugal)
Dylan Eil Ton sea god in Welsh mythology (pre-Christian Britons)
Enki
- god of the freshwater ocean of groundwater under the earth in Sumerian mythology (also referred to as Ea)
Hydros – god of freshwater in Greek mythology
Manannán mac Lir – sea and weather god in Irish mythology
Neptune/ Poseidon – god of the sea in Roman and Greek mythology
Nereus – god of the Mediterranean Sea, shape-shifter, fortune-teller, and son of Gaia and Pontus in Greek mythology
Nethuns – god of wells in Etruscan mythology (Italy)
Ninhursag - goddess of the waters and consort of Enki in Sumerian mythology
Pontus
– pre-Olympian sea god in Greek mythology, and son of Gaia (earth) and Aether (air)
Proteus – early sea god in Greek mythology, he may be either a son of Poseidon, or of Oceanus and a Naiad
Rodon
– god of the sea in Illyrian mythology (Balkans)
Saraswati – goddess of knowledge in Hinduism, originally a river goddess (the Saraswati River was named after her)
Tootega
– goddess that walked on water in Inuit mythology
Trition - god of the sea and messenger of the deep in Greek mythology, son of Poseidon and Amphrite, and though to be a merman
Untunktahe
– water god with great magical powers in Native America (Lakota) mythology
Varun - god of rain and the celestial ocean (above heaven and below the Underworld) in Hinduism
Yah
- god of the waters in Canaanite mythology (Canaan)
Yami - goddess of rivers, sister to the Hindu god of death and daughter of the Sun god


5. Literature

If you are interested in reading about any of the creatures, heroes, gods or locations mentioned above, try the following books where some make an appearance (sometimes briefly), or any other books on mythology of a country or peoples.

Bacon, Francis – The New Atlantis
Blavatsky, Helena – The Secret Doctrine, the Synthesis of Science, Religion and Philosophy (Lemuria)
Berlitz, Charles – The Bermuda Triangle
Churchward, James – The Lost Continent Mu
Homerus – the Illiad and the Odyssey (Greek gods and creatures)
Kusche, L.D. – The Bermuda Triangle Mystery Solved
Lang, Andrew – The Brown Fairy Book (Bunyip)
Miéville, China – The Scar (Grindylows)
Rowling, J.K – Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire (Grindylows)

For more information, you may also visit the online Encyclopedia Mythica, Encyclopaedia Britannica, and Wikipedia.

pictures from Mardi Byrd www.elfwood.com

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