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page seventeen



Although not every culture considered the Sun important enough to place it under divine supervision (as you will see), most peoples did. This was no different in the Mediterranean. It was there that I encountered the first parable of my life, the moralistic story of Faëton. At least that is how it was rendered in Rudolf Mertlik's Ancient Fables and Tales, my first entry into the wonderful world of myth. The spoilt son of the sun god borrowed his father's official vehicle without his permission, failed to drive and did not survive the trip down the sky-bank, so much for the short version. As poignant as this educational fable is (and it contains a myth; on Earth Day, the day after the shortest day of the year, the sacred king handed over his rank to a substitute, a young boy who, after twenty-four hours of reign, was the victim of ritual murder), it does not fit our narrative, for Faëton was merely the son of the god the Greeks called Helios.

Helios was a god employed full-time indeed. Every morning he woke up in the cabin of a ferryboat that plied the waters of the Oceanus, harnessed his horse to a sun-chariot in the eastern palace at Colchis, travelled westward during the day, where he ended up in the second of his palaces after dusk, spurred, had his horse watered in the Isles of the Blessed, boarded a ferryboat that plied the waters of the Oceanus all night, and travelled eastward, where at Colchis Hélios again harnessed, et cetera.

This monotonous activity, however, he managed to diversify, and like a proper Greek god he begot a number of offspring. Faëthon has already been mentioned (his mother was the sister of Hélios' lawful wife Clymene), and the nymph Neairé bore him daughters Faethusa and Lampetia, who later guarded their father's flocks in Sicily. From the marriage bed he shared with Oceanid Persé came a son, Aiétos, future king of Colchis, and Kirké, the legendary witch. That's just for brevity's sake, because, as we know, ancient family relationships are really complicated.

Helios himself was the son of the Titan Hyperion and Theia (with both Hyperion and Faëthon otherwise being Helios' surnames) - as can be seen, he was not of any noble class by birth. However, also, for a long time the Sun was subordinate to the Moon, and most of the attributes held by solar deities in other pantheons were held by Zeus among the Greeks. The subordination to the moon-goddess is recognizable throughout the whole of the Helios myth; it was a really old myth. The first evidence is his mother, who according to other sources was Euryphaessa, the moon goddess. The herds of Helios also give an embarrassing impression - cattle have always been dedicated to the moon because of their horns, which resemble the crescent moon.

The moon goddess Danae was also dedicated to the island of Rhodes, later associated with Helios. The sun god came to it by chance, thanks to the fact that from the sky he is able to see everything that happens on earth. (He doesn't care too much. He didn't even notice when Ulysses' crew stole some of his best cattle). When Zeus was dividing islands and cities, he forgot about Helios - the humble and industrious Sun then settled for the new island he saw rising out of the waves.

Rhodes was also home to the largest statue of Helios, the fabled Colossus of Rhodes, a copper and iron structure over thirty metres high, which took its toll in the earthquake of 225 BC.

The sun god had statues galore, but not many temples and shrines. The sun – as mentioned above – fell under lunar command.

The situation changed with the arrival of a new sun god. This was Apollo.


Hellios from the decoration of the Temple of Athena: original file by Gryffindor, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

9.2.2024 (26.1.2003)



With his sister Artemis, he was one of Zeus' favorite offspring. As they were – again – illegitimate children, their births were not controlled by a cohort of obstetricians. The pregnant Titaness Leto, pursued by the deceived Hera, could not even find a place to give birth; Hera cursed the land and Leto was not allowed to give birth on any solid ground. Only the wandering island of Délos was the right facility, and the two children were finally able to cry out for the first time.

As far as Délos, Létó had Python, the dragon-monster in Hera's service, at her heels, so Apollo's first independent action was the destruction of this divine monster. He paid for it with community service according to the then-existing schedule of punishments, serving for eight years as a common shepherd under the Thessalian king Admetus. Only then could he come to Olympus and assume the divine offices. There were quite a few. As I have already noted, he became the god of the sun and light, and also the protector of life, his subordinates included the Muses and the Charites, which is why he was also a minister of culture. He was also an infallible oracle and an infallible marksman; this predilection and ability was exploited by Zeus and sometimes other gods, Apollo was also the embodiment of punishment - the bluntly Olympian executioner.

Although he was one of Zeus's favorites, he did not hesitate to embark on the famous attempted Olympic palace coup with his mother's former enemy Hera. However, when the shackled Zeus was freed by Briáreos, Apollo, and Poseidon had to work more and more hours of community service - as slaves of King Laomedon, they built Troy.

His sexual activity was commensurate with that of his comrades, but strangely enough, he had a number of failures, neither nymphs (Daphne) nor mortal women (Cassandra) wanted him. Apparently, they did not find the beautiful, revered god interesting enough.

Nevertheless, in the line of his children, we find two sons who have not been forgotten to this day, the famous singer Orpheus and the most accomplished physician, later god of the same, Asclepius.

As to the real origin, Apollo came to Greece from Asia Minor with the colonists as an ancient deity of herds. When the nomads settled, he protected their cities, and then his rise was unstoppable. He succeeded, unlike Helios, in removing the Sun from the Moon priestesses, and became the presumed father of many peoples - the Doric or Milesian, for example. His activities, hidden in several myths, essentially inform the Hellenic conquest of Greece and the successful attacks against the last remnants of the matriarchy and local cults.


Apollo and Python by Hendrik Goltzius (1558-1617) Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

9.2.2024 (26.1.2003)


Strange as it may seem, the Romans did not consider the Sun to be some special celestial body. It was only when their culture came under strong Greek influence that they adopted, almost without change, the cult of Helios. Sol, as the embodiment of the sun, became an official god only in the third century A.D.

9.2.2024 (26.1.2003)


Kalfu is Maitre-Carrefour, Lord of the Crossroads. Evil, just as Legba, belonging to the Loa Rada, is his opposite. While the good old man, puffing from his pipe, commands the positive spirits of the day, Kalfu is in command of the evil creatures of the night. And while Legba is small and rather pity-inducing at first glance, Kalfu is a tall, shoulder-shouldered man in whose presence it is not advisable to linger any longer. His symbol is the moon, and one of his functions is to guard the gateway from the Otherworld, beyond which countless evil demons crowd. Since his magical abilities are truly astounding (how else, especially in the field of black magic), he has no problem turning people into animals or controlling their minds.

12.2.2024 (2.2.2003)


Papa Ghede, too, guards the crossroads, the eternal ones that each of us must one day arrive at. He is the Lord of Death, guardian of the graveyards, and contact with the Beyond. On the other hand, he is the protector of children and tries to make them grow up, for one should live a whole life. That is why he is called to save sick children. And not to be bored, he is also the god of eroticism. He lives, as it were, in a cemetery and visits churches at night.

He has a good appetite and loves salted fish, hot peppers, roasted corn, and roasted bananas. Also rum and a good cigarette. If you're waiting impatiently for the sacrificed black chickens, you've come to the right one.

Another of Ghede's symbols is the cross over the grave, his favorite day is Saturday and the color of his clothes is black, revealing his affiliation with Loa Petro. But it's not that simple. Although he wears black glasses and rules over zombies, those who wish to practice black magic cannot do without him, and for this reason, he is sometimes associated with Baron Samedi, other sources subordinate him to this figure or admit that Baron is the face of Ghede. Which seems most likely.

12.2.2024 (2.2.2003)


who is sometimes called Azacca, is Haiti's minister, sorry, deity of agriculture. He looks like a peasant and is also respected by the peasants. Like them, he walks barefoot and wears a straw hat. He is the protector of the farmers and their fields.

And mind you, he seems to be the brother of the lord of the dead, Ghede – Papa Ghede attends the Zaka ceremonies and vice versa.

12.2.2024 (2.2.2003)


From Haiti, it's just a short drive across the Caribbean Sea to Central America, and even that is full of supernatural creatures, unusual animals, myths, legends, and legends. These tales usually have a common color - blood - as the local religions saw fit to demonstrate devotion to the gods truly from the heart. But I will try to avoid this predilection today. But I will try to avoid this predilection today.

It is simple in the case of the zippers; it would be more difficult to trace their origins, for with these tiny creatures with their tiny helmets and tiny spears it is not quite clear where they came from. Did they arrive on Spanish ships, or were they one of the original elves of the original inhabitants?

Either way, they belong to Mexican folklore today. They are said to avoid humans as much as they can, which is perhaps why we have records of few direct sightings. But the results of their actions affect people directly.

Zips are the protectors of deer, so don't be surprised if you go hunting in Mexico and your well-shot rifle with a top-notch scope, sure hand, and years of hunting experience don't help you keep a bullet from even grazing that damn deer. The blame won't be on the tequila bottle you looked at the bottom of last night, but solely on the zips whose magic makes antlered game invulnerable.

17.2.2024 (9.2.2003)

Zotzilaha or Zotz, aka Camazotz

Well, and to conclude our Central American trip, we revisit the upper ten thousand. Not exactly the most famous deity, the cave-dwelling, dark and bat-like Zotzilaha. More information about him can be found in the legendary source of the local mythology, the Popol Vuh, where you can learn how Camazotz cut off the head of a young hero named Hunapu; the man in question, however, did not mind the sudden loss of height, as he successfully managed to undergo reincarnation. The bat deity, however, eventually lost the battle between gods and men, and most such legends end with the victory of the good guys, meaning our ancestors. To defeat it, however, Zotzilaha offered, who else to turn to when we have the Dark Lord and commander of the underworld legions living in the Bat Palace, the cave that is the entrance to the realm of the dead? The Greek Hades could tell a tale...

Zotzilaha (sometimes known by his full name Zotzilaha Chimalman), however, went far, becoming - among other things - the protector of the Tzotzil Indians living in Chiapas, Mexico, and above all giving his name to one of the months of the famous Mayan calendar.

17.2.2024 (9.2.2003)


From Central America, there are several routes to take – north or across the Pacific Ocean, or back to Europe. Or via Panama, divided by the surgical cut of the canal to the south. Since I don't take this route very often in the Bestiary, it's time to remedy this deficiency. The rich mythologies of the Andean peoples open up before us, the magical narratives of the rainforest - but the map of South America I have in front of me now is small (I'm looking at a school globe), so for now, just a few creatures for the collection.

We'll start in the Peruvian Andes, with the Quechua (I don't need to remind anyone that we usually call that nation the Incas with gusto and terribly bad) and the Aymara. The Hapinunu are the local female demons who fly around at night and catch people. So much for the Encyclopedia Mythica.

17.2.2024 (16.2.2003)


In southern Peru, live beside the Aymara and Quechua also Kauri Indians. In their legends, as elsewhere throughout Central and South America, the jaguar or other related feline beasts appear. Theirs is called the Ccoa, which is of course huge, lives in the nearby mountains, and rules human lives. Not a kindly creature, it sends storms and hailstorms over the fields before each harvest to take its share of the crops. We are not in Europe, and so we must not be surprised it adds a pure demonology to the attributes of vegetation demon and wind being, for among its servants are people who have died unbaptized. As a proper deity of full devotion, Ccoa is appeased only by abundant and frequent sacrifices.

17.2.2024 (16.2.2003)


Astorath's infernal helper, himself the commander of forty legions of devils, according to most experts. The seventh demon named in Goetia with the title of Marquis, the Dictionnaire Infernale gives him the rank of Prince.

Why summon him? It is in his power to conciliate adversaries, he has love and procreation in his brief. The secrets of the past and the future are not hidden from him. It allows him to connect with the souls of the drowned.

Amon is truly demonic in appearance: a wolf's body with a snake's tail and a predator's or owl's head. When he appears in the human form in which he is summoned, he has either a raven head or at least a mouthful of wolf fangs. It can spew flames.



Aamon´s portrait in Dictionnaire Infernal: Jacques Auguste, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

4.3. 2024 (20.11.2022)


Big buttocks, big breasts, these are the primary features of this member of the Arabian jinn family. Since the purpose of her demonic existence is to seduce men, Ifrita can - if that doesn't work - transform herself into a girl of appropriately effective beauty.

4.3. 2024 (20.11.2022)

Pua Tu Tahi

A lonely coral reef is not uncommon in Polynesia. But the Pua Tu Tahi I want to mention is a Lonely Coral Reef that no Tahitian would want to sail around. It's a dangerous underwater demon, one of the cornerstones of the Tahitian universe.

4.3. 2024 (23.2.2003)

Rongo Mai

When the god Rongo-Mai wishes to appear to his worshippers, he disguises himself as a giant whale. He does this primarily because he is, by nature, the god of these large mammals. And also comets, so he doesn't have it so easy.



We'll end our Pacific crossing in New Zealand for now. Filmmakers have recently brought some really powerful creatures here, inhabiting the otherwise fantasy world of Mr. Tolkien, but in the world of supernatural beings, species are introduced in a different way, so we can't expect orcs, elves, or dwarves to take up residence in the local countryside.

The Maori have plenty of gods, demons, and spirits of their own. Toniwha is one of them.

According to tradition, he is - like many other supernatural creatures - the spirit of an ancestor - and as such, he is naturally assigned the role of protector. We are on the other side of the planet, so let's not look for him in the house or near human dwellings. On the contrary. Toniwha resides in rivers, lakes, and springs, in short, in freshwater. He also cares for the water, and it is in his own interest to keep it clean and fresh. Which is far more prudent and protective than looking after the welfare of a single family, as his European counterparts have often done.

4.3. 2024 (23.2.2003)


Taniwha is a common word used in Polynesia to refer to various monsters. Perhaps the toniwha a couple of sentences before is one of them, but since it's a creature with a plus sign in front of the character, I won't go into it too much.

I'd rather look for some truly monstrous creatures and their monstrous ends, of little use, fear and xenophobia are the parents of a significant number of the Bestiary's inhabitants. Though one never knows...



The New Zealand road between Taupo and Rotorua used to be a Bermuda Two-angle at one time. Many trips from one point to the other never arrived, so the inhabitants of both point A and point B assumed that a band of robbers lurked along the route. So they organized a joint punitive expedition.

However, at a place called Kapenga, it was not robbers who jumped out at them, but a taniwha called Hotu-puku. No sooner had they seen it, a huge mountain-like lizard with a spiked crest, than in their confusion they took to their feet; as is usual in such cases, more of them wandered among themselves than the taniwha disposed of.

There followed a period of heroic back-patting, we can do it, the gods stand by us, until at last another expedition gathered, whose members this time knew what they were getting into.

They set ingenious traps, lured the monster out of the hole, and fought a rich man's fight before they struck it down. When they set about processing the carcass, they found a pile of its victims in its stomach.

They buried them and ate Hotu-puku.



After successfully disposing of Hotu-puku, a group of brave men grew. Their reputation too, so it's no wonder that an invitation soon came from Te Awa-hou, where another taniwha – this time a water taniwha – was causing trouble. It was called Peke-haua and, being better fortified after all, a slight change of tactics was required. Magic, or rather prayers, spells, and incantations were added to the tried and tested traps, plus a volunteer named Pitaka who offered to go underwater and lure the taniwha out.

Which, along with several companions, he did. What followed was a fierce struggle for which I had no space (or expression) and the same discoveries in my stomach as in the previous case.



The intrepid monster-slayers also pounced on another taniwha, the cavernous Kataore, whose eyes glowed like two full moons in the subterranean darkness. It didn't help it; the heroes, led by Pitaka, had their way with this man-eater as well. The case had unexpected repercussions, however, as Kataore was the pet of Chief Tangaroa-mihi, and the destruction of the taniwha led to war.

4.3. 2024 (1.3.2006)

Land of Rainbow Snakes

Duhový had

The rainbow snake, whose roar echoes in a storm, and who sometimes stoops to the ground after rain to drink fresh rainwater, is not just a creature of the original inhabitants of Australia, the Aborigines, or Australians in Czech. He crawls through the mythologies of the world, and his body is most evident in the southern hemisphere; you can find him in South Africa and the legends of South America. The rainbow, this beautiful and harmless meteorological phenomenon, invites such an interpretation. But on the continent of kangaroos, it is found in more than abundance. A snake, not a rainbow.

It is indeed huge, symbolizing water, especially in its life-giving essence, and as a proper member of the order Reptilia, it lays eggs. If you ever go to Australia you can see them for yourself, they have their own reserve called Devil's Marbles Scenic Reserve and you drive to it on the Stuart Highway from Alice Springs to Darwin. Devil's Marbles is now named after the white Australians who, according to European custom, attributed the spherical boulders to traces of devil activity.

But the Aborigines know their stuff. In an ancient time, they call the Dreamtime, when only spirits lived in the world, dreaming and dream-creating, one of them - the Rainbow Serpent - flitted across the sky. In the middle of the desert, it lost its egg, it fossilized over time, and today the Rainbow Serpent has no choice but to mourn its unborn offspring from time to time. And then they have storms and downpours in Australia.

It is also said that a new snake hatches from the egg when the current one dies.

I could stop here. But Australia is a continent, not a miserable little island with five villages. And its indigenous inhabitants, of course, do not belong to a single nation or tribe, if only because they came to their new home in several waves of migration. The modest population was so fragmented that to this day we know over six hundred languages, which speaks for itself. Some tribes, said to be in the Gibson Desert, have not even been found yet. So I guess it won't be that simple with the Rainbow Serpent.

It's not. In essence and origin, it is usually the same creature I have written about so far. When I looked around for a handful of details (in my already extensive and extensively disorganized collection, and also in the Encyclopedia Mythica, the most extensive but organized source on the Internet), a whole bunch of rainbow snakes came up. This was to be expected, given that Australia is renowned for its wide range of reptiles.

A giant snake named Wollunga is believed somewhere to be the Creator, emerging from a lake in the Murschison Mountains, from whence also comes life-giving rain. The ancestor of the Kabi tribe of the northeast, is Dhakhan, half fish and half snake, who lives in deep water holes; when he moves, he is seen, of course, in the form of a rainbow. In the northwest the rainbow serpent is the Kalseru, and in another tribe the Ungud, whose sex is uncertain. For it is hermaphroditic, and is sometimes seen in the form of a man, and at other times in the form of a woman. At the same time, like a snake, it can stretch itself across the sky, apparently changing sex in this form as well, but I cannot, to my regret, distinguish a female from a male snake.

Probably from the same brood are the binbin Ulanji and Bobbi-bobbi, unless they are identical individuals with different names. They are both actors in the same or similar story. The Binbings recount that their ancestor (Ulanji or Bobbi-Bobbi, take your pick) sent a flock of fruit bats to his descendants in a time of need. They were able to fly over rocks, but they certainly weren't going to be eaten. So the Rainbow Serpent removed a rib or two from his chest, but he didn't use it for Eve, he gave it to the Binbings, who learned the conveniences of the technological revolution - they shot down the fruit bats with their first boomerang and were able to eat. They must have been strange mammals, these relatives of bats, because, knowing me, there is no problem - if you can find them - to collect them (preferably in the morning, when they fall asleep with their stomachs full of fruit, for unlike their relatives the bats are herbivorous) from the branches. Well, it's not that easy, but not much harder either. Anyway, the Binbings came up with the boomerang, which was a practical invention and, like any such invention, abusable. Bobbi-bobbi had to take his rib back (including a couple of youngsters who wouldn't let go) after the Binbings shot a hole in the sky.

The Aboriginal Australians of the Ritagjingu tribe have as their forefather the only male member of the Holy Trinity, Djanggawul. The divine siblings who came to the land from the island of the dead, Beralku, named, or created, to translate the language of myth, the landscape, animals, and plants. However, both women were swallowed by a snake rainbow lady named Galeru, thus a symbol of the preservation of life.

Their daughters, Wawalag, lived in the sacred well and would still be alive today if the odor accompanying their periodic monthly troubles had not awakened the great copper serpent Yurlungur. When he discovered that someone had dared to enter his cave, he literally grew in fury and swallowed the two girls. However, other snakes later accused him of eating members of his own offspring (unfortunately, my records do not contain the family relationships) and Yurlungur, also called the Great Father, vomited up the girls - alive, for we are talking about gods.

I really didn't make up a word of this story, because it describes the ritual by which the girls were initiated into adulthood. The young men were then similarly cared for by the Great Mother, the goddess Julunggul, naturally also a rainbow serpent.

And then there is another reptile, Eingana, who is described by the Australians as the Mother Eingana, the Creator, the Parent, the creator of all water, land, animals, and kangaroos. She had her time in the Dreamtime, she was the first of her kind, unfortunately, she had no vagina and so could not give birth in the conventional way, her children grew inside her and as they grew, Eingana suffered. The uncomfortable impasse was only resolved by the god Barraiya, who simply ripped Eingana open at the appropriate point and we have been coming into the world that way ever since.

In Australian myths, untouched by the ravages of time and civilization, the original animistic-tothemistic ideas from which the mythologies and world-imaginations of all peoples were born are evident at all at first sight, hearing, or counting.

It does not hurt to look for real, tangible, and existing rainbow snakes at the end. I know of two, but they would be more suited to the story of the rainbow snake from the Amazon River, as they live on a completely different continent. The first one is at most a two-meter-long rainbow grape snake (Epicrates cenchria) which often moves from South America to terrariums of breeders in our country. The second one is Farancia erytrogramma, in English this North American water snake is called rainbow snake (the eel moccasin too) and it really looks like that, colorful as a rainbow and just as harmless.


Rainbow snake depicted by native Australians: The original uploader was Digitaltribes at English Wikipedia., CC BY 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

11.3.2024 (2.3. 2003)





"Things just happen. What the hell."
* Terry Pratchett. Hogfather


Welcome to my world. For the longest time I couldn’t think of right name for this place, so I left it without one. Amongst things you can find here are attempts of science fiction and fantasy stories, my collection of gods, bogeymen and monsters and also articles about things that had me interested, be it for a while or for years. (There is more of this, sadly not in English but in Czech, on www.fext.cz)



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