You’d think that a comic based on an actual god figure from real-world mythology would be rife with potential for this column, but most of the time The Mighty Thor, which stars the new Jane Foster iteration of the character, doesn’t actually deal with much that could be considered theological in nature. However, the last three or so months’ worth of issues (#15-17, to be specific) have featured a very interesting conflict that gets at a meaty question. What does it mean to be a god? More specifically, does ultimate cosmic power come with a responsibility to one’s worshippers? How ought gods prove their power to their followers? This conflict is addressed through a competition that is both fascinating and horrifying.
Mythology is super fun—though this is easy to forget when most of our access to it comes in textbook form. I’d love to soak up as many legends and stories from around the world as I can, but Wiki-walking can only get you so far, and often you can get lost in those walls of text and the academic language. Plus, how do you know where to start?
These epic tales of heroes, gods, demons and magical shenanigans were often meant to be told out loud, spread by word of mouth for the purpose of entertainment. A podcast, then, is the ideal modern medium to get yourself into these ancient tales. Today’s web crush Spirits is exactly that, and it comes with a bonus dose of friendship, feminism, and alcohol!
I’m not generally a fan of horror, and while Neil Gaiman perhaps isn’t specifically writing horror, his fantastical worlds are often quite scary. However, I love literary explorations of mythology, faith, life, and death, and most of his writing, from The Sandman to The Graveyard Book, deals with these themes in one way or another. As such, I’ve been meaning to read American Gods for a rather long time. With the TV adaptation of this book fast approaching, I finally picked it up. Gaiman succeeds, as always, at setting the perfect atmosphere and at creating mysterious characters. However, although I love the exploration of mythological and religious themes, there are also a couple of things that prevented me from completely falling in love with this book. I will delve into all of it below.
Spoilers for American Gods (the author’s preferred text version) to follow.
A while back, I wrote a post on Shiva as presented in the Final Fantasy series. To make a long story short, Final Fantasy isn’t very accurate. Nevertheless, its use of Shiva still got me interested in the original mythology. The same is true for a lot of the other summons, and so I thought it would be fun to look into their source material as well. Shiva has appeared in just about every game I’ve played, but another commonly recurring summon is Ifrit, a demon-like entity with awesome fire powers. Based on Middle Eastern stories, Ifrit’s use is nowhere near as culturally appropriative as Shiva’s, if only because Ifrit is not a deity at the center of a particular faith. Its presentation is still not quite accurate, so let’s delve into the differences between its use in Final Fantasy and Middle Eastern lore.
It’s been years since I first read the first quintet of Percy Jackson books. (I still haven’t read the second.) I’ve been meaning to reread them for ages, though, and since I had a long weekend off work with no actual plans for the first time in… forever last weekend, I decided it was the perfect time to get cozy with a book or five.
Can you believe The Lightning Thief turned ten years old this year?
Greetings, Fantheon, it has been far too long since last we reconvened. Welcome to the third installment of The Wicked + The Divine Deity Field Guide, detailing brief profiles on the series’ deities and their cultural/historical roots. Though we still know virtually nothing about the elusive final goddess Tara, far too many divine goodies have been revealed to put off this installment any further. In that spirit, let’s dive right into the holy mess that we encountered in the last six issues. Please be mindful that the bio for Persephone contains a major spoiler for #11.
There are certain trends in media we’ve just become accustomed to over time, certain standards that become shorthand and we, as consumers, are either confused or intrigued when the media deviates or subverts from them. As a consumer of JRPGs, one of these staples for me is summon spirits.
Whether or not the group of main characters has a de facto summoner, it’s not uncommon to see the powerful, mythical beings called in to aid the protagonists with their unfathomable powers. Unsurprisingly, they typically take powers from the common elements—earth, fire, air, and water—while adding a few more esoteric ones such as light, darkness, and matter. I always look forward to seeing how these games try to put a new spin on these elements as well as the characters who personify them, but I can’t help but feel that some summon spirits end up stale in terms of direction. Namely, the summon spirit of water synonymous with the Tales series, Undine.
A while ago Stinekey wrote a post about people who call themselves spiritual, but not religious. What people generally mean by this is that they do believe in a “something more”, but they’re not attached to a specific religious belief system. While pondering a topic for my own post I considered that the opposite, things that are religious but not spiritual, are also a common feature in media.
What do I mean by that? Well, I mean that different forms of media often use religious figures in their stories without showing any spiritual aspect of said religion. And while I think this happens across faiths, a lot of pagan pantheons get this short shrift more often, probably because the general public doesn’t usually think of Greek or Egyptian or Norse deities as being worshiped in the modern day.
There are many, many things I love to see in literature and narrative universes of any form of media. One of the things I’m particularly fond of is taking ancient mythology and giving it a fresh twist. To the detriment of Western media consumers, most of this mythology is largely coming from the Greek/Roman pantheon. While I would really love to see more influence from, say, African and Indian mythos, for example, because knowledge of the Greek and Roman pantheon is so prevalent, this mythology is easier to market. (Again, a flaw of over-saturation in the market.) Due to this, when Borderlands gives me a group of people called “sirens”, I automatically start filling in some of the blanks. But, thinking about it a little more closely, how similar are the sirens in the Borderlands universe to the songstresses from ye olde legends and myths? Spoiler warning for both Borderlands games under the cut.
Although we here in America are getting ready to celebrate our Independence Day, my mind is focused on the future. Not so far in the future that we suddenly have hovercrafts (though, that would be really cool), but the not so distant future where we’re celebrating one of my favorite holidays, Halloween. What can I say? I’ve never been a timely sort of person.