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Every culture in the world has had myths. Stories and legends to explain the world through metaphor and form the basis of religions, passed down through generations of oral tradition long before humans invented writing. Many of them have similarities: an origin story, an apocalyptic story, a flood myth, trickster gods who get blamed for almost everything and variations on the afterlife. But no two versions are exactly alike (unless you happen to be comparing Greek and Roman, which are extremely similar for reasons that are perhaps obvious to anyone who reads The Aeneid).

The study of mythologies can facilitate our understanding of history and human cultures, both in how perspectives differ and in the universality of certain themes and ideas.

On the right are some general resources for world mythologies. Click on the tabs above for broad overviews of specific pantheons, a few highlighted gods and legends and resources you can explore if you want to delve deeper.

Librarians

Danielle Hoveland

General Resources

Hamilton, Edith. Mythology : Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes . 1st mass market oversize ed. New York: Grand Central Pub., 2011. 
 
Leeming, David Adams. The World of Myth. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990. 

Leeming, David Adams. The Handy Mythology Answer Book . Detroit, MI: Visible Ink, 2015. 

Rosenberg, Donna. World Mythology : an Anthology of the Great Myths and Epics . 2nd ed. Lincolnwood, Ill: NTC Pub. Group, 1994.

Philip, Neil. Annotated Guides, Myths & Legends . 1st American ed. New York: DK Pub., 1999.

Briggs, Korwin. Gods and Heroes : Mythology Around the World . First [edition]. New York: Workman Publishing Co., 2018.

McCall, Gerrie., and Chris McNab. Mythical Monsters : Legendary, Fearsome Creatures . New York: Scholastic, 2011.

Myths and Legends of Lost Civilizations. New York, N.Y: Infobase, 2013. Film.

Wilkinson, Philip, and Neil. Philip. Illustrated Dictionary of Mythology : Heroes, Heroines, Gods, and Goddesses from Around the World . 1st American ed. New York: DK Pub., 1998. (ILL)

White, Catherine Ann. The Student’s Mythology. 2011

The library's Pintrest board: https://www.pinterest.com/dctc_lib/legends-and-mythology/

https://academic.eb.com/levels/collegiate/article/myth/108748

https://www.godchecker.com

Greek/Roman

Gods, Myths and Legends

Gaea - The Earth mother, goddess of all. One of the first beings to emerge from the primordial void. She created the sky god Ouranos and all other gods were descended from them.

Zeus – The sky god, thunder god and father of both the war god and goddess. He was the child of Cronus and fulfilled the prophesy that one of Cronus’ children would overthrow him.

Apollo – God of the sun and music. Carried the sun across the sky each day in a chariot.
 
Poseidon - God of the sea, earthquakes and horses. According to myth, he and Apollo built the walls of Troy, but during the Trojan war he took the side of the Greeks.

Athena - Goddess of wisdom, a fierce warrior who allegedly sprang, fully formed, from the forehead of Zeus. She invented spiders when she turned the goddess Arachne into one as punishment and the olive tree, for which she was made patron saint of Athens (which was named in her honor).
 
Hercules - part mortal son of Zeus. His quest for immortality required completing “labors” assigned by King Eurystheus without dying (which was difficult as most of them were specifically devised TO kill him).

Prometheus - the Titan creator of humans, made out of clay and water. (As compared to clay and lightning, which is how Zeus made Wonder Woman). Condemned by Zeus after stealing fire to be chained to a rock for all of eternity with an eagle eating his liver.

Atlas – Brother of Prometheus, condemned by Zeus to support the world on his shoulders for eternity. He was briefly relieved of this duty by Hercules in one of the demigod’s labors.

Pandora - The first mortal woman, married to Prometheus. Opened a forbidden jar to release all the bad things into the world that had been previously contained.

Demeter and Persephone – The goddess of fertility and the harvest and her daughter, who was kidnapped by Hades, forcing Demeter to go on a quest to try to rescue her.

Oedipus - prophesied to kill his father and marry his mother. Solved the riddle of the sphinx. Ended up gouging out his own eyes.

King Midas – The king of Phrygia, who gained the ability to turn anything he touched to gold from the goddess Dionysus. This proved to be more trouble than it was worth as everything he tried to eat also turned to gold, hence the adage of being careful what you wish for.

The Iliad and The Odyssey - Epic tales attributed to Homer telling the story of the Trojan war and Odysseus' ten year voyage home from it.
 
Achilles – Hero of the Trojan war, a Greek warrior who was allegedly made invincible when his mother dunked him in the River Styx. All except one heel.
 
Aeneid – An epic poem by Vergil, telling the story of the founding of Rome by the Trojans after the war of Troy.
 
Amazons – Exclusively female warrior tribe living on Cappadocia and later claimed to have been found in Brazil.
 
Statue in the National Archeological Museum in Athens. Zeus...or possibly Poseidon.
From Bulfinch's Mythology
The labors of Hercules, as depicted on a tapestry in an archeological museum in Spain

Resources

James, Vanessa. The Genealogy of Greek Mythology : an Illustrated Family Tree of Greek Myth from the First Gods to the Founders of Rome . New York: Gotham Books, 2003.
 
Kirkwood, G. M. (Gordon MacDonald). A Short Guide to Classical Mythology . Wauconda, IL: Bolchazy-Carducci, 1995.
 
Ackroyd, David., and Laura M. Verklan. The Greek Gods. United States: A & E Television Networks, 2004. Film.
 
Sophocles., and Michael. Ewans. Four Dramas of Maturity . London: J.M. Dent, 1999.
 
Nardo, Don. Greek Mythology . Detroit: Lucent Books, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning, 2012. (E-book)
 
Plato., and Catalin. Partenie. Selected Myths. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019. (E-book)

Guerber, H. A. (Hélène Adeline). The Myths of Greece & Rome . S.l: Biblo-Moser, 1991. 

Homer., Robert. Fagles, and Bernard Knox. The Iliad . New York, N.Y., U.S.A: Viking, 1990. 

Homer., and Robert. Fagles. The Odyssey . New York: Viking, 1996. 

Lively, Penelope, Ian Andrews, and Virgil. In Search of a Homeland : the Story of The Aeneid . 1st American ed. New York: Delacorte Press, 2001.

Morris, Lewis. The Epic of Hades, in Three Books. 2011

Wikipedia's family tree of Greek gods

Egyptian/Middle Eastern

Gods, Myths and Legends

Aten – Originally a sun disk symbol depicted alongside other sun gods, he was briefly declared the sole true god by Amenhotep IV (until the pharaoh’s death).
 
Ra - Creator of the universe, the gods and the people. He dies every night (joining Osiris in the underworld) and is reborn every morning, carrying the sun across the sky on a giant boat (or he is himself the sun, depending on which version you subscribe to).
 
Hathor – Goddess of love, life and death. The female counterpart of Ra, “the eye of Ra” who gives him his power.

Nut - Universal mother, goddess of the sky or the actual sky itself. In hieroglyphs, she is depicted arching over everyone, separated from Geb (Earth) by their father Shu.

Bastet, Anubis and Tawaret - These gods all had some part in guiding people through the afterlife and into rebirth. Bastet is depicted with a cat’s head. Anubis with a dog’s and Tawaret with a hippopotamus’.
 
Isis – The winged sky goddess and one of the most recognized figures of the ancient world. She raised Osiris from the dead and tricked Ra into giving her power over him.
 
Osiris – King of the underworld. He would judge whether a person was worthy of entry to the Field of Reeds to be reunited with loved ones. This was determined by literally weighing the person’s heart. If it was heavy with sins, s/he was not allowed entry.
 
Enki – Mesopotamian god of water, laws and knowledge. Created humans to do the labor of keeping the world running while worshipping the gods.
 
Ereshkigal – Caretaker of the dead. Wife of the war god Nergal and sister of the goddess Inanna.
 
Tiamat – Mesopotamian primordial mother goddess/mother Earth. These days she is best known as a five headed dragon goddess and Queen/mother of dragons in Dungeons and Dragons.

Anu - ruler of the gods, god of the sky. Part of a triad that also includes Enlil and Ea.

Ishtar – Semitic mother goddess of love and war, possibly a variant of the Sumerian Inanna, the Queen of Heaven and goddess of fertility and war. She plays a major role in the epic of Gilgamesh.

The Book of the Dead – A guide designed to help guide ancient Egyptians through the afterlife. There is no actual official book and it has many variants painted on the walls of tombs.

The enuma elish – Ancient Mesopotamian creation myth, carved on tablets in cuneiform. It served as inspiration for the book of Genesis.  

Shahnameh (Book of Kings) – The epic Iranian poem covering the history of Persia from the dawn of creation to the Muslim Arab conquest. Said to be the longest single piece of literature written by one author in history.
 
The Epic of Gilgamesh - One of the earliest known literary myths about a king demigod involving a great flood and a quest for immortality.
Nut is always depicted arching over everything and everybody.
Statue of Gilgamesh beside a winged bull.

Resources

Pinch, Geraldine. Egyptian Myth : a Very Short Introduction . Oxford ;: Oxford University Press, 2004. 
 
Hart, George. The Routledge Dictionary of Egyptian Gods and Goddesses. 2nd ed. London ;: Routledge, 2005. (E-book)
 
Tyldesley, Joyce., and Julian. Heath. Stories from Ancient Egypt. Oxford: Oxbow Books, 2005. (E-book)
 
Leeming, David Adams. Jealous Gods and Chosen People the Mythology of the Middle East . Oxford ;: Oxford University Press, 2004. (E-book)
 
Holland, Glenn Stanfield. Gods in the Desert Religions of the Ancient Near East . Lanham, Md: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2009. (E-book)

Maier, John R., John Gardner, and Richard A. Henshaw. Gilgamesh : translated from the Sîn-leqi-unninnī version . 1st ed. New York: Knopf, 1984.

“Enuma Elish (The Babylonian Epic of Creation) | ETANA.” Etana.org, 2020, www.etana.org/node/581. Accessed 18 Dec. 2020.
 
Spence, Lewis. Myths and Legends of Ancient Egypt. 2013 (E-book)
 
Spence, Lewis. Myths & Legends of Babylonia and Assyria. 2014 (E-book)
 
Peple, Edward. Semiramis: A Tale of Battle and of Love. 2013 (E-book)

Norse/Northern Europe

Gods, Myths and Legends

Odin – The Allfather of Norse mythology. Gave his eye to gain ultimate knowledge. Stole poetry from a giant.

Thor - one of the most recognizable Norse gods. The god of thunder and patron of warriors. His famous hammer Mjolnir was a gift forged by Dwarves. His Slavic counterpart Perun is also a Marvel character.

Loki - the trickster god, born out of chaos and probably the most colorful of all the Norse gods. Father of Fenrir the wolf, Jormungandr the world serpent and Hel the goddess of the underworld. Mother to a six legged horse named Slepenir.

Freya – Goddess of love, beauty and fertility and teacher of Norse magic. It is possible she and Frigg (Odin’s wife) are actually the same person.
 
Danu - Mother goddess of Celtic mythology, possibly the same as Anu, the goddess of prosperity.
 
Badb Catha – Irish/Celtic war goddess who often takes the form of a crow. Often one of three referred to collectively as the Morrígan.

Lug – An Irish king and later multidisciplinary god on par with Apollo. He is typically depicted with a spear which legend says made him unstoppable.
 
St. Patrick - many legends surround the patron saint credited with ridding Ireland of snakes.
 
Fionn Mac Cumhail (aka Finn Maccool) - Legendary Irish warrior who created the giants causeway

Ymir - the giant whose body was used to form the world after his defeat in Norse myth.
 
Njord – Norse god of the sea and all things seafaring. Despite this making him one of the most important gods to the Vikings, little is known about him except that the giantess Skadi chose him as her husband accidentally (she really wanted Baldr).
 
The Battle of Ragnarok - the apocalyptic end to the world of the gods, prophesied to be brought about by Loki and Fenrir

Beowulf – A medieval British hero and slayer of monsters, subject of an epic poem.

King Arthur (Pendragon) - A pre-Norman conquest king who is more legendary than historical.
 
Leabhar Gabhála – The Book of Invasions/Conquests. Tells the story of the founding of Ireland, going all the way back to creation.
 
Yggdrasil - The world tree that contains the nine realms of Norse mythology. The gods inhabit Asgard, while the three main roots are in Midgard (human realm), Jotunheim (giant realm) and Hel (underworld whose ruler shares its name).
 
Norns – Usually depicted as three sisters who live at the foot of Yggdrasil, watering it. They rule past, present and future.
 
The Otherworld – a magical parallel world of Celtic mythology populated by gods, spirits, monsters and the fairies that humans chased from this realm. On the festival of Samhain (October 31), the souls of the dead can escape this realm to exact revenge on the living.
 
Painting of Thor wielding Mjolnir.
Artist depiction of the ending of the story about the building of the walls of Asgard. Loki is the horse in the distance.
Excalibur, the famous sword in the stone that could only be removed by King Arthur

Resources

Guerber, H. A. (Hélène Adeline). Myths of the Norsemen : from the Eddas and Sagas . New York: Dover Publications, 1992. 
 
Colum, Padraic, and Willy Pogány. The Children of Odin : the Book of Northern Myths . Lexington, Kentucky: Pied Piper Press, 2012. 
 
Norse Mythology. Arcturus, 2018. (E-book)
 
Lindow, John. Norse Mythology a Guide to the Gods, Heroes, Rituals, and Beliefs . Oxford ;: Oxford University Press, 2003. (E-book)
 
Heaney, Seamus. Beowulf : a new verse translation . 1st Norton pbk. ed. New York ;: W.W. Norton & Co., 2001. 

Malory, Thomas, and Keith. Baines. Malory’s Le Morte D’Arthur : King Arthur and the Legends of the Round Table : a Brilliant Prose Rendition . New York, N.Y: Penguin Books, 1962. 

Gaiman, Neil. Norse Mythology . First edition. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2017. (ILL)

De Paola, Tomie. Fin M’Coul : the Giant of Knockmany Hill . Trumpet Club special ed. New York, N.Y: Scholastic, 1981.
 
Bedell, J. M. Hildur, Queen of the Elves : and Other Icelandic Legends . Northampton, Mass: Interlink Books, 2007. (ILL)
 
Keary, Annie. The Heroes of Asgard: Tales from Scandinavian Mythology. 2012

http://www.veritablehokum.com/comic/the-norse-god-family-tree/

Asian/Hindu

Gods, Myths and Legends

Pangu – A giant/primordial god who emerged from nothing in the form of an egg, the shell of which he turned into the Earth and the Sky. His remains form land features.

Nu Gua – Chinese creator goddess who created people out of mud so she wouldn’t be lonely.
 
The trinity: Brahma the creator (a formless entity who willed the universe into being), Vishnu the preserver (all important god with many avatars and incarnations) and Shiva the destroyer (who will one day return the universe to chaos). The most important gods in the Hindu pantheon.
 
Izanami and Izanagi – Shinto creator god couple who invented marriage, divorce and procreation.
 
The Jade Emperor – head of the Chinese pantheon that is structured like a bureaucracy with separate departments for different religions and related deities.
 
Parvati – The divine mother, goddess of love, fertility and devotion. The wife of Shiva.
 
Ramayana - Epic story of Rama, the seventh incarnation of Vishnu

Amaterasu – The most important deity in Japanese mythology is, naturally, the sun goddess. She plunged the world into darkness when she retreated to the Heavenly Rock Cave. The other gods had to trick her into returning using a magic mirror, allegedly the one still owned by the Royal family of Japan, who legend says are descended from her.

Bishamon(ten) - Japanese war god, adopted from Hindu mythology. One of the seven gods of luck.
 
Tengri – Central Asian eternal creator god in the form of a white goose. Created the Cosmic Tree from which the rest of the gods sprung.
 
Ganesha – God of wisdom, patron of scribes. The most popular and recognizable of Hindu gods. Most myths involve him starting life as a human who was beheaded and magically brought back to life with the head of an elephant.

Krishna – Hero of the Mahabharata and the eighth incarnation of Vishnu, sent to earth to rid it of evil spirits. Later worshipped as the god of love

Qilin (Chinese)/Kirin (Japanese) - mythical hooved creature, said to appear as a sign of the arrival or death of a sage or ruler. Because it is often translated into English as “unicorn” it is sometimes depicted alongside the western mythical unicorn.

Dan'gun Wanggeom – Legendary founder of what would one day become Korea. His parents were a bear who became human and the son of the King of Heaven. 

The avatars of Vishnu – Vishnu is so omnipresent that he is often considered a concept rather than a person, but he often takes the form of “avatars”, including the Buddha of Hinduism, possibly as a way to align new religions with old beliefs and gods.
 
The eight immortals – Legendary characters in Chinese mythology. They feature in many stories and are said to live on islands in the Bohai Sea.

Yi the archer and the ten suns - according to a Chinese myth, there were once ten suns living in a tree, taking turns to shine over the earth each day. Until one day when they all tried to take their turn at once and wouldn’t answer when their mother (goddess Xihe) begged them to come down. Nine of the ten were shot by their father’s archer, who took an extreme angle to being ordered to “teach them a lesson”.

Sun Wukong AKA the Monkey King - A trickster monkey god who stole immortality. Most recognized as a major character in the Chinese novel “Journey to the West”.
 
Kojiki - Oldest written work in Japan, contains many myths and legends including the myth of Izanagi and Izanami and the creation of Japan
 
The Eight Immortals - from a museum in Seattle.
Chinese dragons tend to be more snake-like than their European counterparts and they always have whiskers.
Image of Ganesha
Sun Wukong, the Monkey King

Resources

Ziegenbalg, Bartholomaeus, and Daniel. Jeyaraj. Genealogy of the South Indian Deities an English Translation of Bartholomäeus Ziegenbalg’s Original German Manuscript with a Textual Analysis and Glossary . London ;: RoutledgeCurzon, 2005. (E-book)
 
Shulman, David Dean. The King and the Clown in South Indian Myth and Poetry . Course Book. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press,, 2014. (E-book)
 
Hiltebeitel, Alf. Rethinking India’s Oral and Classical Epics : Draupadi Among Rajputs, Muslims, and Dalits . Chicago: University of Chicago Press,, 2010. (E-book)
 
Williams, George M. (George Mason). Handbook of Hindu Mythology . Oxford ;: Oxford University Press, 2008. (ILL)
 
Wilkins, W. J. (William Joseph). Hindu Mythology, Vedic and Purānic. 2d ed. London: Curzon Press, 1973. (ILL)
 
Dimmitt, Cornelia, and J. A. B. van Buitenen. Classical Hindu Mythology : a Reader in the Sanskrit Purāṇas . Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1978. (ILL)

Williams, C. A. S. (Charles Alfred Speed), and C. A. S. Williams. Chinese Symbolism and Art Motifs : an Alphabetical Compendium of Antique Legends and Beliefs, as Reflected in the Manners and Customs of the Chinese . 3rd rev. ed. / with an introduction to the new ed. by Terence Barrow. Rutland, Vt: C.E. Tuttle, 1989. 
 
Børdahl, Vibeke et al. Four Masters of Chinese Storytelling : Full-Length Repertoires of Yangzhou Storytelling on Video. Place of publication not identified: NIAS Press, 2004. (E-book)
 
Isomae, Jun’ichi, and Mukund Subramanian. Japanese Mythology : Hermeneutics on Scripture . London, [England] ;: Routledge, 2014. (E-book)
 
Foster, Michael Dylan. Pandemonium and Parade : Japanese Monsters and the Culture of Yokai . Berkeley, CA: University of California Press,, 2009. (E-book)
 
Schipper, Mineke., Shuxian Ye, and Hubin. Yin. China’s Creation and Origin Myths  Cross-Cultural Explorations in Oral and Written Traditions . Leiden ;: Brill, 2011. (E-book)

Choi, Won-Oh. An Illustrated Guide to Korean Mythology . Folkestone, Kent, UK: Global Oriental, 2008. (E-book)
 
Kingscote, Howard. "Tales Of The Sun: Or, Folklore Of Southern India". Gutenberg.Org, 2020, (E-book)
 
Werner, E.T.C. “Myths and Legends of China”. Gutenberg.Org. 2005. Gutenberg.Org. 2005 (E-book)

Meso/South American

Gods, Myths and Legends

Quetzalcoatl - the "feathered serpent" creator god and most important god in Mesoamerica. Known by other names in other cultures, including Kukulkan, whose shadow can be seen at Chichen Itza at Fall and Spring equinox.

Coatlicue - Aztec earth goddess. In some versions, she is the mother of Quetzalcoatl. Possibly the same goddess as Cihuacóatl, the goddess of life’s trials in whose name more sacrifices were made than any other god.

Viracocha - the Incan creator god. Created the first race of people – giants who were wiped out in the Great Flood. Legend is their bodies are the stone statues in Tiahuanaco.

Dauarani - The Venezuelan mother of the forest, to whom prayers must be made before carving her trees into canoes.

Chantico - Aztec goddess of fire and volcanoes, but she is more benevolent than you would expect.

Tezcatlipoca – “lord of the smoking mirror”, the god of all things related to war and illness. The dark half to his brother Quetzalcoatl’s light. He ruled the first of the five worlds/suns and guided the Aztec in their search for a homeland.
 
The legend of the Five Suns - The most famous Aztec creation myth, incorporates a flood myth, which destroyed the fourth “sun” and left a world ruled by the fire god Xiutecuhtli. Each “sun” world is mapped by a Divine Calendar or almanac. (This is not to be confused with the Mayan long count calendar of 2012 fame).

Xolotl - A dog-shaped psychopomp (beings that guide souls in the afterlife), covers the first four layers of the elaborate Aztec underworld Mictlan. (The entire journey through Mictlan takes four years to complete).

Mictlantecuhtl and Mictecacihuatl - Lord and Lady of the deepest level of Mictlan, where the most wicked souls go.

Saci - Brazilian trickster god with one leg, a pipe and a magical red cap that grants invisibility. He is often the source of dust devils.
 
Kuma – The first woman/creator goddess who birthed the sun, the moon and animals, then discovered humans.
 
Mayahuel – Aztec goddess of fertility and maternity as well as a very specific plant native to Mexico and the southwest US that was used for rituals and making cloth.
 
The hero twins Hunahpu and Xbalanque - Mayan demigods who rid the earth of monsters and achieved godhood, becoming the sun and moon.
 
Popol Vuh - “Book of the People”, written in the 1500s. The source of much of what is known about Mayan mythology.
A carving of Quetzalcoatl.
The hero twins

Resources

Read, Kay Almere, Jason J. González, and Kay Almere Read. Mesoamerican Mythology : a Guide to the Gods, Heroes, Rituals and Beliefs of Mexico and Central America . Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. 
 
Finger, Charles Joseph, and Paul Honoré. Tales from Silver Lands . Mineola, New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 2018.

Taube, Karl A. Aztec and Maya Myths . 1st University of Texas Press ed. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1993. (ILL)
 
Endrezze, Anita. Throwing Fire at the Sun, Water at the Moon . Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2000. (ILL)
 
Jones, David M. (David Michael), and Brian. Molyneaux. The Mythology of the American Nations : an Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Gods, Heroes, Spirits, Sacred Places, Rituals and Ancient Beliefs of the North American Indian, Inuit, Aztec, Inca and Maya Nations . London ;: Hermes House, 2004. (ILL)
 
Myths and Legends of Lost Civilizations. New York, N.Y: Infobase, 2013. Film.
 
Gifford, Douglas, and John. Sibbick. Warriors, Gods & Spirits from Central & South American Mythology . 1st American ed. New York: Schocken Books, 1983. (ILL)
 
Bingham, Ann. South and Meso-American Mythology A to Z . New York: Facts on File, 2004. (ILL)
 
Bierhorst, John. The Mythology of South America : with a New Afterword . New York: Oxford University Press, 2002. (ILL)
 
Jones, David M. (David Michael), and Brian. Molyneaux. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of American Indian Mythology : Legends, Gods and Spirits of North, Central and South America . London: Lorenz, 2009. (ILL)

Spence, Lewis. The Popol Vuh. 1908. (E-book)

Spence, Lewis. The Mythologies of Ancient Mexico and Peru. 2011 (E-book)

North American

Gods, Myths and Legends

The Great Spirit - the creator, known by many names in different cultures and often not an actual corporeal being but can be everywhere and nowhere at once.
 
Selu - Cherokee nature goddess, first woman and goddess of corn. Typically depicted as a wise old woman.

Sedna - the Inuit goddess of the sea and all animals contained therein. She also rules the underworld where she has resided since her mortal incarnation was thrown from a kayak. She is often depicted as a mermaid.
 
Coyote - An important character in many myths from many tribes. He is sometimes revered, but almost always a trickster.

Iktomi – A Lakota/Dakota trickster god also sometimes known as Spider-Man (no, he is not related to the Marvel character). He invented human speech.
 
Amaguq - Inuit trickster wolf god. Similar to Coyote, but for tribes further north.

Spider Woman - Creator goddess of the Hopi, benevolent helper of humans to the Navajo. Creator goddess of many native tribes, who could weave all of creation like a spider web.
 
Changing woman - Virgin mother of the Navajo hero twins, who were conceived via a ray of sunlight shining through a waterfall in just the right way.

White Buffalo Woman – A mysterious, ghostly woman who taught the Lakota songs and rituals and is credited with bringing the buffalo herds native tribes depended on for food, clothes, shelter and tools.

Akna - Inuit (and also Mayan) goddess of fertility and childbirth. The title may have applied to more than one goddess for the Mayans.
 
Igaluk/Malina - Inuit moon god and sun goddess. A brother and sister pair who chase each other across the sky. He has to disappear once every month in order to fatten himself up again after all this exercise (which explains moon phases).
 
Grandmother sun - Cherokee sun goddess, or the sun herself who could cause droughts and floods depending on her mood.
 
Corn mother - several tribes have variations of the goddess responsible for the growth of corn, which is usually accomplished with her death, sometimes by homicide. Her body fertilizes the soil, which produces corn.

Hiawatha - chief of the Iroquoi, who negotiated the first peace between tribes. (Not to be confused with the subject of "Song of Hiawatha", which was actually about a completely different native hero).

Nanabozho - Ojibwe and Algonquin trickster. A shapeshifter, but often depicted as a giant rabbit as he became mixed with slave tales of Br’er Rabbit. Something of a folk hero in Canada and rare Marvel character.

The Raven – Inuit creator god. He created the world and everything in it by...pooping. Seriously. He also fell in love with a spirit inside a whale after it swallowed him and, in trying to take her outside with him, inadvertently killed the whale.

The Legend of Devil's Tower - Different tribes have slightly different variations describing the origin of Devil's Tower and the Pleiades constellation.
 
Coyote Places the Stars – Coyote forms a ladder into the sky for his friends to climb and then just leaves them there, forming constellations. Never trust a trickster god.
 
A carving of Sedna.
A sculpture of Spider Woman or Grandmother Spider.

Resources

Pearce, Q. L. (Querida Lee). Native American Mythology . Detroit: Lucent Books, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning, 2012. (E-book)

Swann, Brian. Sky Loom Native American Myth, Story, and Song . Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2014. (E-book)
 
Erdoes, Richard, and Alfonso Ortiz. American Indian Myths and Legends . 1st ed. New York: Pantheon Books, 1984. 
 
Benson, Elizabeth P. Birds and Beasts of Ancient Latin America . Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1997. (E-book)
 
Thompson, M. Terry., and Steven M. Egesdal. Salish Myths and Legends One People’s Stories . Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2008. (E-book)
 
Swann, Brian. Voices from Four Directions Contemporary Translations of the Native Literatures of North America . Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2004. (E-book)
 
Bernet, JohnW., and James Ruppert. Our Voices Native Stories of Alaska and the Yukon . Lincoln, [Nebraska] ;: University of Nebraska Press, 2004. (E-book)

Momaday, N. Scott, and Al Momaday. The Way to Rainy Mountain. [1st ed. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1969. 
 
Lankford, George E. Native American Legends of the Southeast Tales from the Natchez, Caddo, Biloxi, Chickasaw, and Other Nations . 5th ed. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2011. (E-book)

Gunther, Erna et al. The Sacred Oral Tradition of the Havasupai As Retold By Elders and Headmen Manakaja and Sinyella 1918-1921 . Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2010. (E-book)
 
Gill, Sam D., and Irene F. Sullivan. Dictionary of Native American Mythology . New York: Oxford University Press, 1994. (ILL)
 
Bastian, Dawn E. (Dawn Elaine), and Judy K. Mitchell. Handbook of Native American Mythology . Santa Barbara, Calif: ABC-CLIO, 2004. (ILL)

Schoolcraft, Henry R. The Myth of Hiawatha, and Other Oral Legends, Mythologic and Allegoric, of the North American Indians. 2007.
 
http://www.native-languages.org/legends.htm
 

African

Gods, Myths and Legends

Amma - Supreme creator god of the Dogon. Its form is neither male or female or, in fact, even human. It is the source of life and protector of the world.

Ala - Ibo mother goddess and goddess of the underworld. She carries the dead in her womb. If you upset her, she can send army ants after you.
 
Kaang/Cagn – Creator sky god of the Bushmen, who was so disappointed in his human creations that he sent death and destruction before abandoning them.

Olorun and Olokun – Yoruba god pair who ruled the sky and earth respectively. Olorun also created the sun.

Obatala - Yoruba creator of land and, after he became bored and drank too much wine, humans (this story is used to explain why humans are not perfect).
 
Mbombo/Bumba - Creator god in the Congo who vomited the planets and a few animals and humans, which all life is descended from.
 
Nomkhubulwane - Zulu goddess of nature, creator of beer. The word is also used to describe shapeshifters.
 
Eshu - The trickster god of the Yoruba in West Africa. He is also a messenger god, who carries information between people on Earth and the gods above it.

Anansi - The trickster god of the Ashanti, weaver of stories and one of the most recognizable characters in African mythology. Usually depicted as a spider, but could take any form as – like most trickster gods – he is a shapeshifter. Stories about Anansi were brought to the new world with slaves where his name was sometimes corrupted into “Aunt Nancy”.
 
The Hare - Another trickster god, depicted in America as Br’er Rabbit

Nyami Nyami - a river spirit/god of the Tonga tribe in Zimbabwe. Descriptions vary, but usually depicted as having a snake head and fish body...or vice versa.
 
Shango - A Yoruba king who became the god of thunder. Had three wives, one of whom was Oya, the goddess of the Niger.

Adora – Lugbara supreme creator who created the first man and woman (twins) Gborogboro and Meme. Meme is the mother of all animals. Shares a name these days with She-Ra.
 
Takhar – A Serer demigod who protects believers against bad omens. A god of justice or vengeance depending on how you look at it.
 
Kintu and Nambi – The first man and woman of Bagandan myth. He lived on Earth and she lived in the sky with other gods. Kintu was subjected to tests to prove his worthiness to her family. He passed, but her brother Walumbe, the god of Death, followed her back down to Earth.
 
Zambe - Creator god of the people of Cameroon. He also created the chimpanzee, the elephant and the gorilla.
 
Mantis - Bushman creator god, left huger behind when he abandoned his creations.
 
Nommo – Not so much a god as a spirit or concept representing the power of the spoken word to create life and influence destiny. Common among the people of Mali especially.
 
The quarrel between sagbata and sogbo - A myth to explain a drought and possibly why one person should never have TOO much power.
A carving of Eshu

Resources

Peek, Philip M., and Kwesi. Yankah. African Folklore an Encyclopedia . New York: Routledge, 2004. (E-book)

Pointer, Fritz H. et al. African Oral Epic Poetry Praising the Deeds of a Mythic Hero. Lewiston: The Edwin Mellen Press, 2012. (E-book)

Ashu, Comfort Eneke. Riddles, Folktales and Proverbs from Cameroon. East Lansing: Distributed in N. America by Michigan State University Press, 2010. (E-book)

Scheub, Harold. African Tales. Madison, Wis: University of Wisconsin Press, 2005. (E-book)

Parrinder, Geoffrey. African Mythology . New rev. ed. New York: P. Bedrick, 1987. (ILL)

Lynch, Patricia Ann. African Mythology A to Z . New York: Facts on File, 2004. (ILL)

Mbitu, Ngangar., and Ranchor Prime. Essential African Mythology . London ;: Thorsons, 1997. (ILL)

Tembo, Mwizenge. Legends of Africa . New York, NY: MetroBooks, 1996. (ILL)

Sissao, Alain-Joseph. Folktales from the Moose of Burkina Faso. East Lansing: Distributed in N. America by Michigan State University Press, 2010. (E-book)
 
McDermott, Gerald. Anansi the Spider; a Tale from the Ashanti. [1st ed.]. New York: Scholastic, Inc., 1994.
 
Aardema, Verna., and Leo. Dillon. Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears : a West African Tale . New York: Scholastic Book Services, 1975.
 

Oceania/Australia

Gods, Myths and Legends

Papa(hanaumoku) - Hawaiian creator goddess and Earth mother. Lover of the sky god Rangi.
 
Ta'aroa – French Polynesian creator god. Born from an egg, which he turned into the sky and the earth.
 
Dema – A creator god from Papua New Guinea, who shaped the first humans from ancient fish.
 
Aluluei – Micronesian god of knowledge and navigation, whose image is traditionally carved in canoes. He has two faces, forward and backward facing.
 
The rainbow snake (aka Almudj/Ngalyod) (Australian) - the creator, she was awakened from her dormant state underground by The Dreaming
 
Ghede – Haitian god of the underworld, lord of the spirits of the dead. He holds the knowledge of all those who lived and is often depicted wearing a top hat and dark glasses, standing at the crossroads of the afterlife.
 
Tangaroa – Maori god of the sea, who gave birth to the other gods and all sea creatures. One of the children of Papa and Rangi.
 
Tu(matauenga) – Maori war god. Another child of Papa and Rangi. He tried to convince his siblings to kill their parents to allow light into the world (which was dark as they were the sky and the Earth locked together). His depictions make him look perpetually angry.
 
Pele - Hawaiian fire/volcano goddess, descended from the gods of the sky and earth. She was chased to Hawaii by her sister, N­amaka the sea goddess for reasons that vary depending on the telling. She lives inside the volcanoes.
 
Maui - a demi-god common to many Polynesian nations including New Zealand. Creator of Hawaii, which he accidentaly lifted from the ocean floor. He also stole fire from the goddess Mahuika and “tamed” the sun, slowing its path across the sky to match that of the slower moving moon.
 
Tane – Maori god of forests, the animals therein and creator of humans. An enormous, ancient tree in New Zealand is named after him.
 
Aida-Hwedo - The cosmic serpent, AKA The Rainbow Serpent. Has two faces: the moon (Mawu, female) and the sun (Lisa, male)
 
Makemake – The creator and fertility god of the people of Rapa Nui (aka Easter Island). It is possible the famous statues on Easter Island were dedicated to him, but no one is really sure.
 
Whaitiri - Maori goddess of thunder. A cannibal who once married a warrior chief who turned out to be a disappointment as he was not as blood thirsty as she was.
 
Hime-Nui-Te-P­o – AKA the Great Woman of the Night. The Maori goddess of death and the underworld. Legend says she killed Maui in the world’s first death.
 
The dreaming – An aboriginal Australian concept of creation as an ongoing, continuous process.
 
Fire country dreaming (Warlpiri, Australia) - a shaman seeks revenge on two members of the Jangala clan for killing a sacred kangaroo.
Statues on Easter Island, possibly of Makemake.
A performer in a parade, playing Maui

Resources

Parker, K. Langloh, and Joanna. Lambert. Wise Women of the Dreamtime : Aboriginal Tales of the Ancestral Powers . Rochester, Vt: Inner Traditions, 1993. (ILL)

Poignant, Roslyn. Oceanic Mythology; the Myths of Polynesia, Micronesia, Melanesia, Australia. London: Hamlyn, 1967. (ILL)

Feinberg, Richard. Oral Traditions of Anuta a Polynesian Outlier in the Solomon Islands. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998. (E-book)
 
Craig, Robert D. Handbook of Polynesian Mythology . Santa Barbara, Calif: ABC-CLIO, 2004. (ILL)
 
Andersen, Johannes C. (Johannes Carl). Myths and Legends of the Polynesians . Dover ed. New York: Dover Publications, 1995. (ILL)
 
McKay, Helen F. et al. Gadi Mirrabooka : Australian Aboriginal Tales from the Dreaming . Englewood, Colorado: Libraries Unlimited, a division of Greenwood Publishing Group, Inc., 2002. (ILL)

Beckwith, Martha Warren. Hawaiian Mythology . Honolulu: University Press of Hawaii, 1983. (E-book)
 
Westervelt, W. D. Legends of Gods and Ghosts (Hawaiian Mythology) Collected and Translated from the Hawaiian. Project Gutenberg, 2012. (E-book)
 
Mackenzie, Donald A. South Seas : Myths and Legends . London: Senate, 1997. (ILL)