Seneca mythology

Seneca mythology refers to the mythology of the Seneca people, one of the six nations of the Iroquois Confederacy from the northeastern United States.

Figures

Some important figures in Seneca mythology were:

  • Eagentci, whose name translates as "ancient-bodied one", is the Earth-mother, or First Mother. Her Huron name is Atahensic.
  • Djieien was a man-sized spider who survived most attacks because its heart was buried underground.
  • Othegwenhda (Hiawatha) stabbed the heart under the Earth with a tree limb.
  • Dagwanoenyent is a vicious northern witch who is depicted as a whirlwind. Her child's father killed her.
  • Gaasyendietha is a fire-breathing dragon that inhabits Lake Ontario.
  • Hagondes is a cannibalistic trickster and clown spirit.
  • Kaakwha (also Kanawha) is the solar deity and god of light and truth, subordinate to Hawenniyo, a fertility god.
  • The Dahdahwat are animals who appear in dreams and visions.
  • Gagqa is the crow spirit.
  • Awaeh Tegendji is an old woman who lives with her three beautiful daughters.
  • Gijesa are spirits of the night sky.
  • Hadowe are the Iroquois' equivalent of Dryads.
Djieien

In Seneca mythology, Djieien is a monstrous spider six feet tall. It could not be killed because it had hidden its heart underground. The great hero Othegwenhda (Hiawatha) discovered Dijien's heart and so killed it.Djieien figures in the tale of Hagowanen and Ot'hegwenhda.

Gaasyendietha

Gaasyendietha, according to Seneca mythology, is a dragon that dwells in the deep areas of rivers and lakes of Canada, especially Lake Ontario. This dragon could fly on a trail of fire, and it could also spew fire.It is also known as the 'meteor dragon', in reference to its supposed origin from a meteoroid that had impacted the Earth. It is also capable of crossing the heavens on a trail of fire.

Iroquois mythology

Much of the mythology of the Iroquois (a confederacy of originally Five, later Six Nations of Native Americans) has been preserved, including creation stories and some folktales. Recorded in wampum as recitations, written down later, the spellings of names differed as transliteration varies and spellings even in European languages were not entirely regularized. Different versions of some stories exist, reflecting different localities and different times. It is possible that the written versions were influenced by Christianity.

Each village had its own storyteller who was responsible for learning all the stories by heart. No stories were ever told during the summer months. Violations would be punished by the Jo-ga-oh, and if the violator ignored the warning he would suffer greater evils.

List of religions and spiritual traditions

While religion is hard to define, one standard model of religion, used in religious studies courses, was proposed by Clifford Geertz, who defined it as a

[…] system of symbols which acts to establish powerful, pervasive, and long-lasting moods and motivations in men by formulating conceptions of a general order of existence and clothing these conceptions with such an aura of factuality that the moods and motivations seem uniquely realistic."

A critique of Geertz's model by Talal Asad categorized religion as "an anthropological category." Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to explain the origin of life or the universe. They tend to derive morality, ethics, religious laws, or a preferred lifestyle from their ideas about the cosmos and human nature. According to some estimates, there are roughly 4,200 religions in the world.The word religion is sometimes used interchangeably with "faith" or "belief system", but religion differs from private belief in that it has a public aspect. Most religions have organized behaviours, including clerical hierarchies, a definition of what constitutes adherence or membership, congregations of laity, regular meetings or services for the purposes of veneration of a deity or for prayer, holy places (either natural or architectural) or religious texts. Certain religions also have a sacred language often used in liturgical services. The practice of a religion may also include sermons, commemoration of the activities of a god or gods, sacrifices, festivals, feasts, trance, rituals, rites, ceremonies, worship, initiations, funerals, marriages, meditation, invocation, mediumship, music, art, dance, public service or other aspects of human culture. Religious beliefs have also been used to explain parapsychological phenomena such as out-of-body experiences, near-death experiences and reincarnation, along with many other paranormal and supernatural experiences.Some academics studying the subject have divided religions into three broad categories: world religions, a term which refers to transcultural, international faiths; indigenous religions, which refers to smaller, culture-specific or nation-specific religious groups; and new religious movements, which refers to recently developed faiths. One modern academic theory of religion, social constructionism, says that religion is a modern concept that suggests all spiritual practice and worship follows a model similar to the Abrahamic religions as an orientation system that helps to interpret reality and define human beings, and thus religion, as a concept, has been applied inappropriately to non-Western cultures that are not based upon such systems, or in which these systems are a substantially simpler construct.

Mythologies of the indigenous peoples of the Americas

The indigenous peoples of the Americas comprise numerous different cultures. Each has its own mythologies. Some are quite distinct, but certain themes are shared across the cultural boundaries.

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