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Mythology and "Witchcraft"s in Other Cultures.

Discussion in 'Research' started by Addison, Sep 8, 2016.

  1. Addison

    Addison Auror

    My story handles a blend of different cultures and mythologies. From the classic, and somewhat cliche, western cultures to Chinese, Egyptian, Meso-American and Native American. I want to keep each culture and their magic as realistic and genuine as possible and the only way is if I have solid notes on each one. My town's library has few books on the subject, all of them dated. Wikipedia isn't so helpful so any sites or free PDF's or youtube podcasts or such will be extremely helpful.

    So, to reiterate, places of knowledge for mythologies/magics of other cultures. Please and thank you.
  2. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

    I have some knowledge of what Witches are in Native American cultures of the South West States.
    It is a very subjective term.
    Basically, a Witch is an evil bad person [male or female - it doesn't matter]. You might go to a shaman or singer for a cure to the curse that you think a Witch has put on you. In many ways no-one would want to be described, or would describe themselves, as a Witch if they wanted an easy life.
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  3. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

    You're in for a challenge. There's a tendency to normalize or standardize or classify these cultures along basic groupings, and it can be very difficult to parse out many of them as distinct enough for the purposes of a fantasy magic system.

    What's worked for me in the past is to look at a group of related cultures, try to "find" the magic system that would work across the group as a whole, and then to lay out that magic system across a new group of fantasy cultures. If you look at enough cultures - say, the Native American ones, which I've done this for - you can find enough unique elements to support a fully developed magic system. Then you can find other ways to make each Native American-based culture that you feature distinct.

    I don't have a good resource for you. I know you've mentioned being unhappy with wikipedia, but if you try searching "CULTURE mythology," "CULTURE religion," "CULTURE folklore," and "CULTURE philosophy," and do it for a few cultures in each group, then you should be able to find quite a bit.
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  4. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

    I can help with Mesoamerica. There are lots of good books on the subject, a great course on Audible that has about 40 hours of information, and there is a lot of good information online (you can look at UT, Austin, for example, as a starting place, or at papers on Academia.edu). For the Maya, books like Forest of Kings (by Linda Schele), or The Blood of Kings (Schele and Miller) are good. Lots out there by Michael Coe as well.
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  5. Chessie

    Chessie Guest

    Hi, Addison. I've been able to learn quite a bit of information on Native American mythology through the wiki and also tribal websites. The Canadian Cree have a website, and the Alaskan organizations do as well (Bristol Bay Native Corp, etc). Check those out for info. They typically have a lot of information on those sites about the history of their people, etc. Far as mythology goes, look up Native American writers. Some of them write about mythology and beliefs of their people as well. Good luck. :)
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  6. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

    Not a Native American writer, but Tony Hillerman does a good job of showing how "mythic" views and the "modern" world co-exist within the Navajo [if you like crime stories].
  7. ALB2012

    ALB2012 Maester

    I've just done a course on magic in the Middle Ages by Coursera.com - it's got an interesting section on magic in Islam.
    Here's my blog post on the course - the sound quality of the course is a bit crap but it is free and repeated quite frequently. Magic in the Middle Ages ? Course Review | Library of Erana

    You might want to check out some of the old Graeco-roman myths too. Udemy has a free introductory course here: Ancient Greek Religion | Udemy.
  8. Chessie

    Chessie Guest

    This sounds like something I might like. Thanks for the suggestion. I do like crime stories.
  9. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

    If you can find them, the old TSR (now 'Wizards of the Coast' unless the name changed again) 'Historical Earth' supplements give magic traditions and available AD&D spells for Ancient Rome, Ancient Greece, Celts, middle ages, Vikings, and middle east.

    The old 'Legends and Lore' books give information on the religions and a bit on the magical practices of such regions as South Asia, the Far East, and the native cultures of north America, along with the classic Celtic and Greek material.

    Past that, from my own reading:

    Spirits were a major deal in the ancient world. Magicians and would be magicians across the middle east (including Egypt) studied and schemed to obtain the 'true names' of spirits, demons, or gods, in the belief that knowledge of such a name would grant power over said entity. This belief extended into South Asia, and probably China (my knowledge is lacking). Truly powerful magicians were all assumed to have a spirit at their beck and call.

    Great stock was placed in dreams across native American cultures, ancient Europe, and the middle east. The belief that ones spirit or soul visited otherworldly realms while asleep or in a trance was common.
  10. CavalierElrik

    CavalierElrik Acolyte

    Hi Addison,
    I travel A LOT for my job. And every place I go I study, visit, and soak up anything esoteric, occult, and mythology related I can. One consistency I have seen from the last 33 countries I have visited in the last 5 years is that the definition of witchcraft being good, evil, or both, varies wildly from culture to culture. I have spent a tremendous amount of time in South East Asia and Asia.

    For example, when we hear the word 'Demon' in western society, I think most people think of it as a negative, or of a dark, or evil-natured spirit where as in Thailand for example, the entire central Royal Palace in Bangkok is guarded by good demons.

    At the Temple of the 10,000 Buddhas in Hong Kong as well, the entire complex stretching up a windy forested hillside is watched over by the great mother demon.

    Even in India, where I ahem spent quite a lot of time, Kali (think Temple of Doom Kali) is not all together bad. Yes, she's holding a severed head, wearing a necklace of skulls, and standing atop a dead body, but in essence, she is only evil if twisted and warped by those wishing to do evil. To add to this irony, the shrine for Mother Teresa in Calcutta is right outside the massive Temple of Kali complex along the Gangis river too! Talk about contrast! Just food for thought. :)
  11. KBA

    KBA Dreamer


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