Learning through Myths and Legends

Illustrated map of the world with dragons, ships, and mermaids.

Myths often tell stories that connect to a religious ideology or understanding about the world; legends are stories that are “purported to be historical in nature but that is without substantiation,” often mixing historical figures with fantastical or embellished details. They are both part of the larger subject of folklore, stories that are passed down through oral tellings and retellings over generations, and that represent more than mere entertainment to the cultures that birthed them. Myths and legends can offer insight into a culture’s values and beliefs, their perspective on the world and the things that matter most to them.

Below are videos that tell the stories of three different myths and legends from around the world.

The legend of Annapurna, Hindu goddess of nourishment

“Historically, the union between Shiva and Parvati was a glorious one: a sacred combination which brought fertility and connection to all living things. Yet a rift had grown between these two forces. Setting out to prove the importance of her work, Parvati withdrew from the world and sent the Earth into darkness. Antara Raychaudhuri and Iseult Gillespie tell the story of the goddess Annapurna.”

How the Monkey King escaped the underworld

“The Monkey King, a legendary troublemaker hatched from stone and schooled in divine magic, had stolen the Dragon Lord's most treasured weapon: a magical staff. Returning to his kingdom to show off his treasure to his tribe of warrior monkeys, he finds himself caught in the clutches of two soul collectors, dragging him to his death. Shunan Teng details the Monkey King's journey to the underworld.”

The Egyptian myth of Isis and the seven scorpions

“A woman in rags emerged from a swamp flanked by seven giant scorpions and approached a magnificent mansion to beg for food. But the mistress of the house took one look at her grimy clothes and unusual companions and slammed the door in her face. Little did the mistress know the woman was no ordinary beggar, but the most powerful goddess in Egypt. Alex Gendler details the myth of Isis.”