Their Wishful Answers

There’s those who believe 
In fate and the zodiac, 
Their wishful answers.

Giuseppe Gillespie – November 2021

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Myths in Minutes: Perseus and Andromeda

Perseus and Andromeda 1 by Gustave Moreau

Perseus and Andromeda

On his way home from slaying the Gorgon Medusa, Perseus came to Ethiopia where he saw a beautiful maiden chained to a rock on the shoreline. This was Andromeda, the daughter of king Kepheus. Her parents had boasted that she was more beautiful as the Nereids (sea nymphs) and the sea god Poseidon was so enraged that he flooded the  lant with salt water. To pacify him, the Ethiopians agreed to sacrifice Andromeda to a sea monster.

Seeing her in chains Perseus fell in love with Andromeda. Kepheus told him he could marry her, but he would have to save her first. Perseus used his winged sandals to rise up in the air and attack the sea monster from above with his sickle of adamant. Once the monster was dead, the hero claimed Andromeda as his bride. Kepheus’s brother Phineus challenged Perseus because Andromeda was already promised to him. When it seemed Phineus and his men might overwhelm him in battle, Perseus drew Medusa’s head from its bag and turned them all to stone.


Myths in Minutes – Neil Philip

Cover: Perseus confronting Phineus with the Head of Medusa by Sebastiano Ricci

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Myths in Minutes: The Gorgons

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The Gorgons

The three Gorgons – Euryale, Stheno, and Medusa – were hideous female creatures with golden wings and tusks like boars; their glances could turn men to stone. Euryale and Stheno were immortal, but Medusa was not. Athena had turned Medusa’s lovely hair into a writhing mass of snakes, as punishment for sleeping with the sea god Poseidon in her temple.


When King Polydectes of Seriphos invited Perseus, the son of Zeus and Danae, to dinner the hero vowed to bring Medusa’s head to the king as a gift. The gods aided him: nymphs brought Perseus winged sandals and a bag; Hades lent him his helmet of invisibility; Hermes gave him an adamantine sickle; and Athena lent him her shield of polished bronze. By observing the Gorgons in the mirrored shield Perseus waited until the sisters were asleep. He cut off Medusa’s head using the sickle and stuffed it into his bag. From Medusa’s severed neck were born two children by Poseidon, the winged horse Pegasus and Chrysaor. Perseus used the helmet of invisibility and the winged sandals to escape vengeance.


Myths in Minutes – Neil Philip

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Myths in Minutes: Ra’s Night Journey

Ra’s Night Journey

‘Hail to you, Ra, perfect each day!’ opens one of the hymns to the sun god, the uncreated creator who
‘traverses eternity’, and to whom each day is but a moment.

The sun god took three main forms: Khepri, the scarab beetle, who was the rising sun; Ra, the sun’s disc,
who was the midday sun; and Atum, an old man leaning on a stick, who was the setting sun. Each evening, as
the sun reached the west, the sky goddess Nut swallowed it. Each morning, she gave birth to it once more
in the east. Ra’s nightly journey was not without peril. As he sailed through the netherworld in his night
barque, demons assailed him, led by the monstrous serpent Apophis. In the darkest hour before dawn, Apophis
would make his most desperate attack. Each night, the chaos god Seth would spear the serpent and Ra, in the
form of a cat, would cut off its head. And so chaos was held at bay. The next night, Apophis would be lying
in wait once more. If Apophis were ever to vanquish Ra, the sun would fail to rise.


Myths in Minutes – Neil Philip

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Myths in Minutes: Ancient Egyptian Creation

Ancient Egyptian Creation

In ancient Egyption mythology, before time began the creator, the lord without limit,
rested in the form of a serpent with its tail in its mouth in the primal ocean Nun (non-being).
He became aware of himself and manifested as Ra, the sun god. Ra created other gods, sneezing out
Shu, the god of dry air, and spitting out Tefnut, the goddess of moist air. With his voice, using
Heka (creative power), Sia (perception), and Hu (pronouncement), Ra called forth the elements of creation.

Heka, Sia, and Hu accompanied Ra in his solar barque as he traversed the sky. He then created Ma’at, the
goddess of truth and harmony, to watch over his creation. Causing the waters to recede, Ra stood on the
Benben stone, the primal mound and model for the pyramids. Ra called forth from Nun all the plants,
animals and birds; as he spoke their names, they came into being. The ancient Egyptians believed the annual
inundation of the Nile was caused by the cosmic serpent coiled inside the cavern of Hapy, god of the flood,
releasing the primal waters of Nun once more.


Myths in Minutes – Neil Philip

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Myths in Minutes: Yggdrasil

Yggdrasil

At the center of the Viking cosmos was Yggdrasil, the world Tree, a giant ash that held up the sky and sustained the world. The tree had three roots – one in Jotunheim, home of the giants; one in Asgard, home of the Aesir gods; and one in Niflheim, the realm of ice where Hel, land of the dead lay. Beneath each of these roots was a spring – Mimir’s well of wisdom in Jotunheim; Urd’s well of fate in Asgard; and Hvergelmir, the source of the poison that filled the chasm at the time of creation, in Niflheim.

Urd’s well was guarded by the three Norns – Fate, Being, and Necessity. These three shaped the lives of men and women from birth to death. They also watered the tree every day to keep it alive; drops of this water fell to the Earth as refreshing dew. Yggdrasil needed such guardians, because it was constantly under attack. An evil dragon, Nidhogg, gnawed at its roots, along with other serpents. A giant eagle, Hraesvelg, sat at its tip, flapping its wings to create the wind. The squirrel Ratatoskr scampered up and down between the two, delivering insulting messages.


Myths in Minutes – Neil Philip

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Myths in Minutes: King Midas

King Midas

Midas was the king of Phrygia. Recognizing an old drunk as the satyr (nature spirit) Silenus, companion of Dionysos (God of wine and ecstasy), Midas entertained him royally, and in return Dionysos granted him a wish. Midas wished that everything he touched turned to gold. And so it did – including his daughter. Soon the desperate king was begging Dionysos to remove the gift. The God told him to bathe in the river Pactolus, which washed away his golden touch, turning the sands of the river golden ever after.

Later, Midas witnessed a musical contest between the gods Apollo (god of the sun and arts) and Pan (god of the wild), judged by the mountain god Tmolus. When Tmolus awarded the prize to Apollo, Midas objected, saying that Pan deserved it. Apollo cursed Midas with asses’ (donkey) ears. The king kept his shameful ears covered up, but could not hide them from his barber who, sworn to secrecy, just had to share what he knew. He dug a hole in the ground and whispered the secret into it. A bed of reeds grew there, and every time the wind blew through them, they too whispered, ‘king Midas has asses’ ears.’


Myths in Minutes – Neil Philip

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