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November 17, 2011

Thirteen Tricksters & Meanies from the World of Mythology

Thursday Thirteen

Many romances, especially paranormal and urban fantasy ones, are based on the world of mythology. An example is Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Hunter series. Old myths and legends are rich in ideas for authors, so I thought I’d mention a few characters from within mythology for my Thursday Thirteen today.

Thirteen Tricksters & Means from Mythology

To start, mythology is a collection of stories that helped people make sense of the world. They were passed orally from generation to generation. Sometimes people wrote the myths down, and they were often celebrated in dance and art.

1. Chimera – a fire breathing monster made up of a mishmash of body parts of different animals.

2. Bacchus – the Roman god of wine and ecstasy. He gave King Midas the power to change everything he touched into gold.

3. Maui – he’s one of our New Zealand tricksters, and was supposedly responsible for fishing up New Zealand. He was a slippery one, and frankly, I’d run if I saw him. He pushed up the heavens and stole fire for mankind.

4. Cunning Hare – he’s an animal trickster that always outwits the other animals. He’s known in the US as Brer Rabbit.

5. Loki – the Norse trickster god. He caused the death of Odin’s son, Balder and is still being punished for it.

6. Baba Yaga – is a cannibal witch from Russia. She lives in a revolving hut that’s supported by hen’s feet, and she flies through the air in a mortar (grinding pot)

7. Guan Di – the Chinese god of war. Originally, he sold tofu, but he killed a magistrate and had to flee his home. He became a soldier and was promoted to the status of god of war.

8. Eshu – the trickster god of the Yoruba people in west Africa. He likes playing tricks on people – mischievous ones. He disguises himself as a naughty boy, a wise old man and a priest.

9. Kokopelli – another trickster. He’s also responsible for fertility of crops and the village women. I used Kokopelli as the basis for my story Seeking Kokopelli.

10. Tengu – a part man and part bird. They’re Japanese and have magic invisibility cloaks.

11. Sekhmet – a lioness god, sent by Ra to destroy mankind. Ra changed his mind and the only way to stop Sekhmet was to ply her with drink and get her drunk.

12. Centaur – half man and half horse they’re wild and savage. There are centaurs in the Harry Potter series.

13. Yen-lo – the ruler and judge of the dead in China. He weighs the souls first. Those who were virtuous had light souls while sinners possessed heavy souls. The souls must past several tests before they can be reincarnated.

All of these seem unfriendly to me. I’m not sure I’d like to meet them, but they certainly provide inspiration for stories.

Do you have any favorite stories based on mythology? Which of the above would you prefer to face? Write a story about?

Source: Mythology, an Eyewitness Book, by Neil Philip


  1. Xakara

    I knew 11 out of 13, Go Geek Cred! :)

    I’ve touched on a few of these for story ideas. So good to seem them highlighted.

    Happy T13,

    13 Wishes

    • Shelley Munro

      Mythology is a rich mine for writers.

  2. Darla M Sands

    The bunny (#4) sounds pretty harmless. :) As for writing, they all have rich stories, don’t they? I’d be hard pressed to choose at the moment.

    • Shelley Munro

      The bunny does sound harmless, but he’s a trickster for sure. You’ve got to watch those!

  3. Stephanie Adkins

    Great list, Shelley! My oldest son has been studying mythology in school over the past two weeks, so we’ve had a lot of discussions about it in our house recently. :) Happy Thursday!

    • Shelley Munro

      It’s interesting the way that many cultures have similar myths. It makes the world seem a much smaller place.

  4. Adelle Laudan

    I find #6 very disturbing. Very interesting list though. Happy T13!

    • Shelley Munro

      Nodding. I wondered how she managed to get her mortar to fly. Those things are heavy. I wouldn’t want to drop one on my toes!

  5. Maria Zannini

    I’ve always wanted to meet Loki. I even named a puppy I sheltered for a few weeks, Loki.

    And yes, he lived up to his trickster reputation.

    • Shelley Munro

      Loki is such a cool name for a dog.

  6. Kimberly Menozzi

    I dunno – #11 sounds pretty relatable. LOL!

    Happy TT! :)

    • Shelley Munro

      LOL ply a woman with drink to get your way???

    • Shelley Munro

      Myths are always fascinating.

  7. Alice Audrey

    Kokopelli is an interesting one all right.

    • Shelley Munro

      Kokopelli is fascinating, although he seems to be very regional in the US – south west only.

  8. angel Graham

    The first story I wrote was a mythology. Thus…the God of Thunder. With his mighty hammer and anvil, striking terror in the minions…

    Oh, Hi all.

    • Shelley Munro

      Thor really lends himself to fictional stories.

  9. Jennifer Leeland

    I’m always fascinated with the mythology of different countries.
    Very cool.

    • Shelley Munro

      There’s a wealth of I of to choose from, that’s for sure. A writer can take the myths and twist them so many different ways.

  10. Amy Gallow

    We named our youngest daughter for one of Loki’s handmaidens, all too appropriately as it turned out.
    I loved Robert Graves book on the Greek Myths and Frederick Raphael’s “Some talk of Alexander” for its modern take on the idea.
    Thanks for reminding me of characters I’ve read about but had forgotten temporarily

    • Shelley Munro

      Amy, I haven’t read either of those. Thanks for the suggestions.

  11. Ciara Knight

    I didn’t know many of them but I’m fascinated by mythology.

    • Shelley Munro

      There were a lot in the book that I hadn’t heard of before.

  12. Heather

    It’s interesting how all world mythologies have similar stories or characters–for example, look how many have a trickster. I’ve always been kind of partial to Harvey (a pooka) myself. ;)

    • Shelley Munro

      I thought that too. I haven’t heard of Harvey, the pooka…

  13. Maddy Barone

    Coyote is an Native American trickster.

    Have you read Rob Thurman? One of ehr characters i nthe Cal Leandros series is Robin Goodfellow. Really good.

    • Shelley Munro

      Ah, yes. So, he is. No, I haven’t read Rob Thurman’s series. I’ll check it out.

  14. Angela Brown

    Hmmm…if I had to, I’d face Sekhmet. Maybe I could challenge her to a drink off. If I win, she’s drunk and I can escape. If she wins, I’ll be so toasty and gone that I can meet my demise with a hiccup and a smile.