Abenaki mythology

The Abenaki people are an indigenous peoples of the Americas located in the northeastern United States and Eastern Canada. Religious ceremonies are led by medicine keepers, called Medeoulin or Mdawinno.

Three ages

The history of the Abenaki people is divided into three time periods. In the first, the Ancient Age, humanity and animal-life are undifferentiated. In the second, the Golden Age, humans are still animals, but quantitatively different. In the third, the Present Age, animals and humanity are totally differentiated.

Beings of the Ancient Age

  • Atosis - a medeoulin who is a reptilian humanoid, forces people to find a stick so that he can cook them with it, was blinded by Moosbas
  • Azeban - "Raccoon", a raccoon or wolverine trickster spirit
  • Kee-wakw - a gigantic, forest-dwelling cannibal
  • Kisosen - "Sun-Bringer", the solar deity, an eagle whose wings opened to create the day, and closed to cause the nighttime
  • Kita-skog "Big Snake" or Pita-skog "Grand Snake" - a Horned Serpent who fights the Pa-don-gi-ak
  • Kchi-awasos - "Big Bear", the bowl stars of the Big Dipper are the Great Bear, who is chased every night by three hunters; he is killed every fall and his blood drips to earth turning the leaves brown while the constellation turns upside down; it is righted, and he is reborn, every spring
  • Mateguas (also Mat-gwas) - a rabbit spirit, first (one of magic) the rabbit, the very first medeoulin, legendary founder of the Midewiwin.
  • Metee-kolen-ol - a race of evil wizards with hearts of ice
  • Nanom-keea-po-da - subterranean spirit who causes earthquakes
  • Niben - "Summer", a woman whose stunning beauty forces Pe-ben to retreat to the north; she represents summer
  • Pamola - a bird and night spirit who takes prisoners to Alomkik, near Mt. Katahdin and causes cold weather
  • Psônen "Snow-Bringer" - an eagle-spirit that makes snow by opening his wings
  • Padôgiyik "Thunders" - seven white-skinned, golden-haired brothers, half-human and half-bird, former inhabitants of Lake Champlain, war-like, thunder and lightning spirits.
  • Pebon "Winter" - a powerful sorcerer who puts his audience to sleep when he tells stories, spirit of winter
  • Siguan "Spring" - a young male who loved the season of summer, and brought her to the north every spring
  • Tabaldak "Owner" - the androgynous creator of existence
  • Wa-won-dee-a-megw "Snail" - a snail spirit that can live in trees, on land or in the water, as well as change size and appearance to look like a huge snake, alligator or scaly man; has horns which can be ground into a magical powder
  • Wad-zoo-sen - the eagle that flaps his wings to create wind. Gluskab tries to stop his wind in order to hunt by tying his wings and moving him, but realizes that without the wind, the earth and water will suffer and releases him enough to allow some wind.
  • Wassan-mon-ganeehla-ak - a race of people who play games with a ball of light, causing the Aurora Borealis

Beings of the Golden Age

  • Oodzee-hozo (Odzihózo) also known as Gluskab/Gluskabe (Gloos Ka Be)[1] - ("the man who created himself") a man who lived before the invention of legs. He dragged his body around, creating mountains, valleys and rivers (in this early form, he is referred to as Bemee-geedzin-pobi-zeed), as well as Lake Champlain, which is holy to the Abenaki. Odzihozo turned himself into a rock in the lake (Rock Dunder, roughly 1.4 miles (2.3 km) west of Burlington, Vermont), which he is said to inhabit.
  • Tool-ba (Tôlba) - foolish turtle spirit, uncle of Gluskab
  • Pla-ween-noo - turtle spirit, mother of Gluskab, patron spirit of the Sokwakis
  • Agaskw (also Nokemis) - ("woodchuck", also known as Nokemis, "my grandmother") is a very wise woodchuck-spirit of the Abenaki. She is the grandmother of Gluskab.
  • Moos-bas - mink spirit, adopted son on Gluskab, powerful fletcher, sometimes fulfills wishes
  • Mool-sem - one of Gluskab's dogs, the white one, could shrink or enlarge himself
  • M-da-weelh-ak - a loon spirit in the form of a dog, Gluskab's messenger, one of his dogs, the black one, could shrink or enlarge himself
  • A-senee-ki-wakw - a race of stone giants, the first people Gluskab created but then destroyed because they crushed other animals and injured the earth with their great size

Gluskab and Malsumis

Tabaldak, the creator god, made humans and then Gluskab (several variants of whom were associated with different branches of the Abenaki, including Glooscap, Glooskap, Gluskabe Klooskomba) and Malsumis sprang from the dust on his hand. Gluskab and Malsumis both had the power to create a good world, but only Gluskab did so. Malsumis still seeks evil to this day.

Gluskab founded the Golden Age of the Earth by rendering the evil spirits of the Ancient Age smaller and safer, as well as teaching humanity how to hunt and fish, build shelter and all of the Abenaki's knowledge of art, invention and science. Gluskab's departure ended the Golden Age, though he is prophesied to return and renew it again.

Me-koom-wee-soo was Gluskab's assistant and wields an ivory bow. He has a fierce temper and gains weight as he gets more angry; eventually, it is said, he sinks into stone. Gluskab and Me-koom-wee-soo had an archery contest once; Me-koom-wee-soo fired an arrow into the top of Mt. Washington, creating a pond, while Gluskab's arrow created a hole in the sky that was then called msatawa (the Evening Star).

Gluskab realized the strain hunters can cause on an ecosystem. He asked a woodchuck spirit for help, and she gave him all the hairs off her belly, woven into a magical sac; which is why woodchucks have bald bellies. Gluskab then went to a mountain, where Tabaldak had placed a huge eagle (P-mol-a) that made bad weather by flapping its wings. After binding it, Gluskab realized some wind was necessary and loosened them slightly. Gluskab saved the world from a frog monster that swallowed all the planet's water. When Gluskab cut open the monster's belly, some animals jumped into the water and became fish. Some modern Wabanaki believe that Gluskab is angry at white people for not obeying his rules.

Beings of the Present Age

  • Alom-bag-winno-sis or Alom-begwi-no-sis - a mischievous, dwarfish race of men upsets canoes, that can increase or decrease body size at will; they also own a pot which can transform a few kernels of maize into a huge quantity; seeing one supposedly foretells a death by drowning
  • Ask-wee-da-eed - a fire-elemental, identified as a will o' the wisp, that brings bad luck and death, also connected with comets and meteors
  • Atsolowas - a trickster.
  • Awa-hon-do z- insect spirits that bite humans
  • Awes-kon-wa - a small, flying sprite, associated with the Mohawk tribe
  • Batsolowanagwes - a benign trickster
  • Bedig-wajo (western Abenaki) or Ktaden (eastern Abenaki) - a culture hero
  • Chibaiskweda - marsh gas, supposedly caused by the ghost of an improperly buried corpse
  • Do-gakw-ho-wad - small men who prop the jaws of animals open with sticks in order to avoid being eaten
  • Dzee-dzee-bon-da - a monster, so ugly that even he is terrified of his own appearance
  • Ko-gok - another monster
  • Lo-lol - a frightening monster
  • M-ska-gwe-demoos - a swamp-dwelling woman, dressed in moss with moss for hair; she cries alone in the forest and is potentially dangerous
  • Maski-mon-gwe-zo-os - a toad creature, seduces men and children and kills them, appears either as a partridge or a woman dressed in moss, with a belt made of arborvitae bark
  • Meek-moos-ak - a pair of short twins who seduce women, who are then cursed to never desire marriage, kills hunters during the winter, possibly a personification of the Mi'kmaq tribe
  • N-dam-keno-wet - a half-fish, half-human creature with a small face and long hair, molests bathing women
  • P-skig-demo-os - a female creature, slays men and children
  • Pak-zin-skwa - an ugly, old woman
  • Pim-skwa-wagen-owad - small, aquatic, pinching creatures
  • Pok-wejee-men - small creatures, created from the bark of the ash tree
  • Tsa-tsamolee-as - the noisy, clownish fool
  • Tsi-noo - a person whose heart is made of ice and has no soul; he eats the souls of others for sustenance and strength
  • Wana-games-ak - river-dwelling creatures with faces so narrow, they are essentially two-dimensional, friendly creatures that warned the Abenaki of coming attacks


  1. ^ Afable, Patricia O. and Madison S. Beekes (1996). "Place Names" in Handbook of North American Indians, vol. 17 (Ives Goddard, ed.). Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution, p. 193
Anishinaabe traditional beliefs

Anishinaabe traditional beliefs cover the traditional belief system of the Anishinaabeg peoples, consisting of the Algonquin/Nipissing, Ojibwa/Chippewa/Saulteaux/Mississaugas, Odawa, Potawatomi and Oji-Cree, located primarily in the Great Lakes region of the United States and Canada.


Ask-wee-da-eed is a Native American mythological figure of the Algonquin Abenaki people. It is an embodiment of fire associated with comets and meteors. and brings bad luck and misfortune.


Azeban is a lower-level trickster spirit in Abenaki mythology. The traditional homeland of the Abenaki is Wobanakik (Place of the Dawn), what is now called northern New England and southern Quebec. Azeban (also spelled Azban, Asban or Azaban) is a raccoon, the Abenaki trickster figure. Pronounced ah-zuh-bahn. Azeban does many foolish and/or mischievous things in Abenaki folktales, but unlike animal tricksters in some other tribes, is not dangerous or malevolent.

Azeban deceives animals and other beings for food or other services.

There is an Abenaki story where a woman names her six dogs after their characteristics. She named one of the dogs Azeban. This woman Cedar Girl of the Abenaki [Dawn Land People] naming her dog "Azeban" has caused some confusion, causing people to assume the Abenaki trickster figure is a dog, not realizing she called the dog Azeban because he has the characteristics of the raccoon, the actual Abenaki Trickster figure.

In the story the dog Azeban is one of a litter of six dogs born to Awasosqua (Bear Woman). The others are Awasosis (Little Bear), Kwaniwibid (Long Tooth), Mikwe (Squirrel), Moosis (Little Moose) and Soksemo (Good Nose). All the spirits in Awasosqua's broods are dogs, and are named after their characteristics.

In Migian, Azeban is a trickster raccoon dog named Amarst.

Big Dipper

The Big Dipper (US) or the Plough (UK, Ireland) is a large asterism consisting of seven bright stars of the constellation Ursa Major; six of them are of second magnitude and one, Megrez (δ), of third magnitude. Four define a "bowl" or "body" and three define a "handle" or "head". It is recognized as a distinct grouping in many cultures.

The North Star (Polaris), the current northern pole star and the tip of the handle of the Little Dipper (Little Bear), can be located by extending an imaginary line through the front two stars of the asterism, Merak (β) and Dubhe (α). This makes it useful in celestial navigation.


Glooscap (variant forms and spellings Gluskabe, Glooskap, Gluskabi, Kluscap, Kloskomba, or Gluskab) is a legendary figure of the Wabanaki peoples, native peoples located in Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and Atlantic Canada. The stories were first record by Silas Tertius Rand and then by Charles Godfrey Leland in the 19th century.In his role as creator, Glooscap is similar to that of the Ojibwa Nanabozho and the Cree Wisakedjak. His name, Kloskabe, means "Man who came from nothing" or literally, "Man [created] from only speech". There are variations to the legend of Glooscap as each tribe of the Wabanaki adopted the legend to their own region. At the same time, there are consistencies in the legend with Glooscap always portrayed as "kind, benevolent, a warrior against evil and the possessor of magical powers".


Known in the Ojibwe mythology as Jiibayaabooz (also recorded as Chipiapoos or Cheeby-aub-oozoo, meaning "Spirit Rabbit" or "Ghost of Rabbit") or in the Abenaki mythology as Mateguas (Rabbit), this figure is a trickster spirit, and figures prominently in their storytelling, including the story of the world's creation. Depending on the tradition, he was either the second or third son of Wiininwaa ("Nourishment"), a human mother, and E-bangishimog ("In the West"), a spirit father.

Stories regarding Jiibayaabooz/Mateguas are filled with all things mystical and spiritual. While alive, Jiibayaabooz/Mateguas was obsessed with manidoog's and humans' interaction with each other. Through his regular communication with the manidoog through dreams, he taught the humans the importance of dreams and the methods of communication with the manidoog. As with any little brother, he was subjected to Majiikiwis' taunts, but during a dare from his eldest brother, Jiibayaabooz/Mateguas lost his life.

Even in death, his "jiibay" or ghost continued with obsession with the manidoog, and taught the humans the rites and ceremonies of vision quests and purification ceremonies. Basil Johnston, in his book The Manitous: the spiritual world of the Ojibway also adds Jiibayaabooz became the "Chief of the Underworld" and "... he bequeathed the spirit of music, chants, and poetry to the Anishinaubae peoples."

Among the Abenakis, Mateguas from the dead taught his living brother Gluskab the rites and ceremonies of vision quests and purification ceremonies to comfort his grieving brother. This became the core of the Midewiwin rituals that Gluskab then passed onto the humans.

List of avian humanoids

Avian humanoids (people with the characteristics of birds) are a common motif in folklore and popular fiction.

List of culture heroes

A culture hero is a mythological hero specific to some group (cultural, ethnic, religious, etc.) who changes the world through invention or discovery. A typical culture hero might be credited as the discoverer of fire, or agriculture, songs, tradition, law or religion, and is usually the most important legendary figure of a people, sometimes as the founder of its ruling dynasty.

List of legendary creatures (M)

Maa-alused (Estonian mythology) - Subterranean spirit

Machlyes (Medieval bestiaries) - Hermaphroditic humanoid

Macrocephali (Medieval bestiaries) - Giant-headed humanoid

Madremonte (Colombian folklore) - Nature guardian

Maero (Māori) - Savage, arboreal humanoids

Magog (English folklore) - Giant protector of London

Maha-pudma (Hindu mythology) - Giant elephant that holds up the world

Mairu (Basque mythology) - Megalith-building giant

Mājas gari (Latvian mythology) - Benevolent house spirit

Makara (Indian mythology) - Aquatic beings

Makura-gaeshi (Japanese mythology) - Pillow-moving spirit

Mallt-y-Nos (Welsh mythology) - Spirit of the hunt

Mami Wata (Africa and the African diaspora) - Supernaturally beautiful water spirits

Manananggal (Philippine mythology) - Vampires that sever their torsos from their legs to fly around

Mandi (Medieval bestiaries) - Humanoid with a forty-year lifespan

Mandrake (Medieval folklore) - Diminutive, animated construct

Manes (Roman mythology) - Ancestral spirits

Mannegishi (Cree) - Little people with six fingers and no noses

Manticore (Persian mythology) - Lion-human-scorpion hybrid

Mapinguari (Brazilian mythology) - Giant sloth

Mara (Scandinavian folklore) - Female night-demon

Marabbecca (Italian folklore) - Malevolent water spirit

Mareikura (Tuamotu) - Attendant of Kiho-tumu, the supreme god

Mares of Diomedes (Greek mythology) - Man-eating horses

Marid (Arabian mythology) - Jinn associated fortune tellers

Marmennill (Norse mythology) - mermen with prophetic abilities

Maro deivės (Lithuanian mythology) - Disease spirits

Maski-mon-gwe-zo-os (Abenaki mythology) - Shapeshifting toad spirit

Matagot (French mythology) - Spirit that takes animal form; usually that of a black cat

Matsya (Hindu mythology) - First Avatar of Vishnu in the form of a half-fish and half-man

Mayura (Hindu mythology) - Peacock spirit

Mazzikin (Jewish mythology) - Invisible, malevolent spirit

Mbói Tu'ĩ (Guaraní mythology) - Snake-parrot hybrid

Mbwiri (Central Africa) - Possessing demon

Medusa (Greek mythology) - Serpent-female hybrid (Gorgon) with numerous snake heads

Meliae (Greek mythology) - Ash tree nymph

Melusine (Medieval folklore) - Female water spirit, with the form of a winged mermaid or serpent

Menehune (Hawaiian mythology) - Little people and craftsmen

Menninkäinen (Finnish mythology) - Little people and nature spirits

Merlion (Singapore) - Combination of a lion and a fish, the symbol of Singapore

Mermaid/Merman (multiple cultures) - Human-fish hybrid

Merrow (Irish mythology and Scottish) - Human-fish hybrid

Metee-kolen-ol (Abenaki mythology) - Ice-hearted wizards

Mimi (Australian Aboriginal mythology) - Extremely elongated humanoid that has to live in rock crevasses to avoid blowing away

Minka Bird (Australian Aboriginal mythology) - Death spirit

Minokawa (Philippine) - Giant swallow

Minotaur (Greek mythology) - Human-bull hybrid

Mishibizhiw (Ojibwa) - Feline water spirit

Misi-ginebig (Ojibwa) - Serpentine rain spirit

Misi-kinepikw (Cree) - Serpentine rain spirit

Mizuchi (Japanese mythology) - Water dragon

Mogwai (Chinese mythology) - Vengeful ghost or demon

Mohan (Latin American folklore) - Nature spirit

Mokèlé-mbèmbé (Congo) - Water-dwelling creature

Mokoi (Australian Aboriginal mythology) - Malevolent spirit that kills sorcerers

Moñái (Guaraní mythology) - Giant snake with antennae

Monocerus (Medieval bestiaries) - One-horned stag-horse-elephant-boar hybrid, sometimes treated as distinct from the unicorn

Mono Grande (South America) - Giant monkey

Monopod (Medieval bestiaries) - Dwarf with one giant foot

Mooinjer veggey (Manx folklore) - Nature spirit

Mora (Slavic mythology) - Disembodied spirit

Morgens (Breton and Welsh mythology) - Water spirits

Morinji-no-okama (Japanese mythology) - Animated tea kettle

Mormolykeia (Greek) - Underworld spirit

Moroi (Romanian) - Vampiric ghost

Moss people (Continental Germanic mythology) - Little people and tree spirits

Mujina (Japanese mythology) - Shapeshifting badger spirit

Muldjewangk (Australian Aboriginal mythology) - Water monster

Multo (Philippine mythology) - Spirit of a deceased person seeking justice or has unfinished business

Muma Pădurii (Romanian folklore) - Forest-dwelling hag

Muscaliet (Medieval bestiaries) - Hare-squirrel-boar hybrid that has an intense body heat

Muse (Greek mythology) - Spirits that inspire artists

Musimon (Heraldic) - Sheep-goat hybrid

Myling (Scandinavian folklore) - Ghosts of unbaptized children

Myrmecoleon (Medieval bestiaries) - Ant-lion hybrid

List of legendary creatures by type

This is a list of legendary creatures from mythology, folklore and fairy tales, sorted by their classification or affiliation. Creatures from modern fantasy fiction and role-playing games are not included.


Malsumis is the highly malevolent spirit or god of chaos and thorns in Abenaki mythology, an Algonquian people of northeastern North America.


The Midewiwin (also spelled Midewin and Medewiwin) or the Grand Medicine Society is a secretive religion of some of the indigenous peoples of the Maritimes, New England and Great Lakes regions in North America. Its practitioners are called Midew, and the practices of Midewiwin are referred to as Mide. Occasionally, male Midew are called Midewinini, which is sometimes translated into English as "medicine man".


Netawansum is a mythological figure in Mi'kmaq tradition who is the nephew/niece and travel companion of Klu'skap. Netawansum was created by Kisúlk using ocean foam that had been blown onto sweetgrass by the shore. Netawansum possessed knowledge about the life and strength of the maritime world.During the sixth stage of creation, Netawansum met their uncle Klu'skap and granted him improved vision, including the ability to see great distances; spirit; and body. To celebrate their meeting, Netawansum brought gifts from the ocean to Klu'skap, who in return summoned fish from the ocean and cooked them to make a meal alongside nuts from the trees. Together with Klu'skap and Klu'skap's grandmother Nukumi, they found Klu'skap's mother, Níkanaptekewísqw. This group of four lived together for a long time before Klu'skap decided to leave his mother and nephew/niece and travel north with his grandmother.A Mi'kmaq ceremony held during council gatherings burns sweetgrass to honour the arrival of Netawansum.


Odziozo, also called Oodzee-hozo, is a giant in Algonquin (specifically Abenaki) legend. His name means "He who Created Himself," or "Transformer." He is attributed with the creation of Lake Champlain, Tuxis Island and Pond, Rock Dunder, and Samson Rock, among other landforms, including mountains and rivers. The legend states that he grew his arms and head from his body, but his legs grew slowly. He passed the time by forming valleys, meadows, and hills. After carving out and flooding Champlain, then known as Bitawbágw, Petoubouque or Petonbowk, meaning 'lake in between,' he followed a flock of migrating geese south along a glacier. He arrived in Madison, Connecticut, where he took a handful of earth and flung it to sea. The piece that landed in Long Island Sound became Tuxis Island, and another piece that fell out of his hand became Samson Rock. The hole, Tuxis Pond, was filled in the resulting splash. Odziozo then turned, stepping on the rock (It is assumed his legs were grown in by then), and went back to Vermont to get to his home, Rock Dunder, where, exhausted, he turned himself into a stone, so as to be permanently with his favorite creation.Odziozo is often said to have lived before animals evolved legs, and, as such, many of the landforms he created were caused by the dragging of his body by his long arms. Rock Dunder, in Shelburne, Vermont, is supposedly where his spirit and body are kept. The Madison section of the story is most likely a more recent legend.

Odziozo has a boat race named after him in Lake Champlain.At least one expert thinks that the glacier mentioned in the legend was added in the 17th century.


Pamola (also known as Pamolai, P-mol-a, Pomola, and Bmola) is a legendary bird spirit that appears in Abenaki mythology. This spirit causes cold weather.

Specifically, according to the Penobscot tribal nation, Pamola inhabited Katahdin, the tallest mountain in Maine. Pamola is said to be the god of Thunder and protector of the mountain. The Penobscot people describe him as having the head of a moose, the body of a man and the wings and feet of an eagle. Pamola was both feared and respected by the Penobscot nation, and his presence was one of the main reasons that climbing the mountain was considered taboo.

The spirit resented mortals intruding from down below. Because of this, the mountain was off limits to all below. Henry David Thoreau, of his August, 1846 exploration of the Penobscot River and Katahdin wrote, "Pomola is always angry with those who climb to the summit of Ktaadn."It was also believed that Pamola took prisoners to Alomkik, located near Katahdin.The name is now preserved on Pamola Peak, a summit on Katahdin at the eastern edge of the Knife Edge ridge. The Pamola Lodge of the Order of the Arrow is an honor camping society of the Boy Scouts of America; Pamola's image is commonly used on several of the society's insignia.

Roy Dudley, probably the most notable of the early guides on Katahdin, was known for his campfire yarns about Pamola.


Tabaldak is the creator among the Abenaki and Algonquian people of northeastern North America. His name means "The Owner" who "created all living things but one". Tabaldak created people out of stones, but thought these people's hearts were too cold. He broke up these stones and left them scattered over the Abenaki land. Next he tried wood, and out of these came the Abenaki people. The only creature Tabaldak did not create was Odzihodo, whose name means "He Makes Himself from Something." Initially Odzihodo only had his hand, and as he was not a creator of things, required help from Tabaldak. By the time he was fully formed, Odzihodo had already transformed the world to his vision. To do this, he piled dirt to make mountains, and dug lines for rivers. He took great care in forming Lake Champlain, and happy with his work, turned into a stone.


Theriocephaly (from Greek θηρίον therion 'beast' and κεφαλή kefalí 'head') is the anthropomorphic condition or quality of having the head of an animal – commonly used to refer the depiction in art of humans (or deities) with animal heads.

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