Many different countries and the cultures within them have long told legends, fables and folk tales regarding rainbows.We have stories from The Hawaiian Nation, The Indian Nations, Ireland of course, and even one from Guam.
In medieval Germany, many believed that for forty years before the end of the world, no rainbows would appear. Thus, people were relieved to see a rainbow; as the saying goes: "So the rainbows appear, the world has no fear, until thereafter forty years."
Many cultures all over the world believed that rainbows led to God. Some tribes of North American Indians called the rainbow a "Pathway of Souls." In Japan, some refer to a rainbow as the "Floating Bridge of Heaven." In Hawaii and Polynesia, legends call the rainbow the "path to the upperworld." Legends of the people of the Austrian Alps say righteous souls go to heaven via the rainbow. Legends of New Zealand say that dead chiefs went up a rainbow to the afterlife.
On the other hand, in the past, Slavonic people believed that looking at the base of a rainbow would bring death. Others believed that pointing at the highest point of a rainbow would bring bad luck (anything from being struck by lightning to developing an ulcer to losing a finger)
Here are a few legends we hope will amuse, entertain and inspire you! At any time on this page, click a highlighted word to go to more stories and folklore from around the world.
Legends - The Pot O' Gold and The Leprechaun (Irish Folk Tale)
This is probably the most famous of all rainbow legends, and one of my favorites, that at the end of every rainbow lays a pot of gold guarded by the mischievous mythical creature the
Leprechaun. What most people don't know is how the leprechaun came about being the custodian of not just the gold, but other buried treasures that the rainbows end denotes.
The fact is, the treasure belongs to all of the fairies, however the leprechaun remembers where the invading Danes buried their loot when they arrived in Ireland, so he was the obvious choice for the job!
He's also very cunning and sly, so if the treasure is ever in danger of being discovered by a mortal,legend has it the leprechaun can usual trick the unwitting human out of his booty!
There is a story of a man who once tricked a leprechaun into revealing the whereabouts of his valuables. The treasure was located beneath a bush in a large field surrounded by other similar shrubbery. The man needed to go off and get a shovel for which to dig up the treasure, so he tied a red ribbon to the bush so he could identify it on his return, and made the leprechaun promise not to take it off. Convinced he was more clever than the leprechaun and had secured his gold, he made off to get his shovel. On his return however, much to his dismay, he found that the little creature had tied a red ribbon on every other bush in the field!
Legends - Ngalyod, the Rainbow Serpent (Australia)
Ngalyod, also known as Almudj, the Rainbow Serpent was a major creator being. It forced passages through rocks and created more waterholes. It is still a great creator. It brings forth the wet season, causing all forms of life to multiply. It appears in the sky in the form of a rainbow. But it is also one of the most feared. Anyone who has broken any law can be drowned in floods. The Gagudju legends say that the Rainbow Serpent still lives in the pool under the waterfall.
Legends - The Rainbow Maiden (Hawaii)
Kahalaopuna was born of the divine wind and rain of Manoa Valley. For centuries, the valley has been regarded as the royal palace of rainbows where the beautiful rainbow maiden can be seen playing wherever the light of sun or moon touches the misty rain. Natives of the valley often called Kahalapuna by the name of Kaikawahine Anuenue; the Rainbow Maiden.
Kahala had taken two cheifs as lovers. One was from Waikiki, the other from Kamoilili. Both men wanted the maiden to live in their homes with the colors of the rainbow arching overhead.
Kauhi was the cheif from Waikiki. Unfortunately, he was a cruel and jealous man. Angry with Kahala, he killed her and buried her where no one would find her. However, Kahala's guardian spirit, the owl, scratched at the earth until her body was uncovered and joined once again with her spirit. Again, Kauhi killed Kahala and buried her. Again, the owl restored her to life. This happened several times until finally, the cheif chose a burial site under the roots of a great koa tree. The owl scratched and pulled in vain, for the roots of the tree were strong and would not be moved. After a time, the owl decided that so much time had passed, that Kahala's spirit surely must have descened to Po, the Underworld, and thus he abandoned his task.
The spirit of Kahala frantically searched for someone who could restore her body. She had been separatd from her body for so long that death was starting to overwhelm her. She had nearly lost hope when Mahana, the cheif from Kamoiliili approached.
Mahana could feel the distress of a spirit around him. He let the ghost guide him to the great koa tree where he found the earth disturbed amidst the roots of the tree. He tore the roots away and dug until he uncovered the battered body of his beloved Kahala.
Although lifeless, Mahana hoped that Kahala's spirit may still be restored to her body and he bore her to his elder brother who was a renowned kahuna (priest). The powerful kahuna chanted and prayed. Long into the night, he called upon all his skill and experience to restore Kahala, but utterly failed. In desperation, he called upon two spirit sisters who were family guardians. The sisters found Kahana's spirit and guided it back into her body through the feet while the kahuna performed the chants to restore life.
With the help of the spirit sisters, Mahana nursed Kahala back to her original beauty and health and their love grew deep and strong. However, Kahala would never be safe while Kauhi still lived, so Mahana devised a plan to intice Kauhi into combat. Mahana began to frequent the areas that Kauhi played sports and gambled. He taunted Kauhi until finally, Kauhi admitted that he had killed the rainbow maiden.
Mahana declared that Kahala was alive and in his home. To this, Kauhi insisted that the woman in Mahana's home was an imposter. He was so sure that Kahala was dead, that legends say he challenged Mahana to present her to the cheifs of the district including Kahala's grandfather, Akaaka, the mountain god. If he was proven wrong, he would be baked alive in an imu (oven). If he was proven right, Mahana would be the one to be baked alive.
Mahana decided that the proposition was much more favorable than combat, in which he had a chance of losing his own life, so he quickly agreed. He was so agreeable, that Kauhi became suspicious and consulted with kahunas of his family. To prevent deception, it was decided that there would be a test to detect ghosts. The kahunas would be prepared to invoke spirits from the Underworld to come and fetch any wayward ghosts and deliver them to Milu, the god of the Underworld, for punishment.
Kauhi followed the instructions of his family kahunas and spread the delicate leaves of the ape plant over the ground where Kahala was to walk and sit before the cheifs for judgement. It was said that a human walking over the leaves would bruise and tear them, while a spirit would leave them undisturbed.
Legends say that the day of judgement arrived and the Imu was prepared for the sacrifice. The king and chiefs were all assembled including Akaaka, and Kauhi sat nearby where he could watch the maiden's arrival closely. As Kahala made her way towards that path strewn with ape leaves, the spirit sisters, who walked beside her, recognized the test. They could not leave Kahala for fear that it would arouse suspicion, so they whispered to her instructions to bruise as many leaves on either side of her so that the sisters would not be discovered as spirits.
Slowly and regally, Kahala approached the chiefs leaving a wide trail of broken and bruised leaves. Kauhi's chief sorcerer declared that he could detect ghosts nonetheless and demanded that a second test be implemented. As it was believed that a reflection of a face in water was the face of a spirit, the sorcerer demanded that a calabash of water be brought forth. In his eagerness to catch a spirit face in the water, he leaned over the calabash, presenting his own spirit face. Before he could lean back and restore his spirit to his body, Akaaka sprang forward and grasped the reflected face in his hands, destroying the spirit.
The sorcerer fell dead beside the calabash and Kauhi was seized. As agreed, he was baked alive in the imu as punishment for his crimes, and his lands and retainers were given over to Mahana and Kahala who lived long, and with a rainbow over their roof. Compliments of nativehawaii.com and Keoni.
Some of the most colorful and interesting folk tales, myths and legends arise from the Native American Nations. These particular legends are from the Navajo and Iroquois. What makes a good legend is the way that it's told, and these folk tales are spun with imagination and character. Enjoy these Native american legends, they also make great bedtime stories!
Legends - The Legend of Rainbow Path (Iroquois Nation)
Legends state that the Iroquois Indians believed the sky was a land of its own, a lush and bountiful terrain where animal and man thrived. They viewed the Sun and the Moon as man and wife, a married couple who descended to the earth through an aperture in the sky and returned back through another hole to a better land at night.
Heng, the Thunder God, grew angry at the Sun as he viewed the Moon growing thinner and thinner and finally fading away. He believed that the Sun was mistreating his beautiful bride and so cast a giant black cloud across the shining face of the Sun. The heat from the Sun's face melted the cloud, the result being a beautiful, big rainbow.
When the animals saw the glorious rainbow and all its colors, they thought it a bridge to the land in the sky. They went to their king, Old Turtle, and pleaded with him to let them ascend the path. Old Turtle waned them of the possible danger in doing this, however the animals in their excitement ignored him. They didn't realize that once the rain stopped the rainbow would disappear, and they would be left in the sky with no way down.
The Iroquois legends claimed the gods outlined the animals' bodies in stars and some of our constellations are still known for the animal shapes they represent.
Legends - At The Rainbow's End (Navajo Nation)
Long, long ago when First Woman the Goddess was created, she became fully grown in four days. It seemed that every Dine (Navajo) Indian tribesman wanted her for his wife. She did not love any of them, but she did like the handsome ones. Of all the men, however, she thought the most attractive was the Sun-God. Of course, she thought he could never be her husband.
Legends say that one day Sun-God came up behind her and gently tickled her neck with a feathery plume. She was engulfed with warm sunshine, and in a magical way the Goddess became the wife of Sun-God. He fathered her firstborn, a son.
Not long thereafter, the Goddess was resting beneath an overhanging cliff when some drops of water fell upon her. Soon the Goddess gave birth to a second son, fathered by Water-God. Because the two boys were so close in age, they became known as the Twins of the Goddess.
They lived in a beautiful canyon that later became a part of Dine (Navajo) land. About that time, a Great Giant roamed over the country and ate every human he could catch. He discovered the Goddess but did not want to kill her, because at first sight he fell in love with her beauty.
The Goddess knew of the Great Giant's evil ways and would have nothing to do with him. He became very jealous of her when he saw footprints of the Twins outside her Hogan.
She saw Great Giant approaching, so she quickly dug a hole in the centre of her floor and there hid her two children, whom she dearly loved. She covered the opening with a flat sandstone rock, spreading dirt over it to prevent the Great Giant from finding her Twins.
Another day, Great Giant saw the children's tracks.
"Where did these children come from?" he asked the Goddess.
"I have no children." she replied, because she knew that he would try to kill them if he found the Twins.
"You are not telling me the truth," he said. "I see children's footprints in the dirt, right here."
The Goddess laughed heartily and said "Those are only my hand prints. I am very lonesome for children, so I only pretend by making tracks with the heels of my hand and the tips of my fingers, like this. These are the tracks of my children."
"Now I believe you," he replied.
As the Twins grew larger, their mother could not hide them any longer. She was alarmed for their safety because of the Great Giant, who saw them one day and tried to catch them. But the Twins were too quick and got away.
The Spirit who made the Goddess appeared with a bow made of cedar wood for Sun-Child.
"It is time for you to learn to hunt," she said to him.
"We must now make some arrows and another bow for your brother," said the Goddess to Sun-Child.
"Mostly, we want to hunt for our father," said Sun-Child. "Mother, who is our father and where does he live?"
"Your father is the Sun-God, but he lives far away in the East," replied the Goddess.
Another bow was made for Water-Child and many arrows for both Twins. They began their journey to the East and traveled as far as they could, but without success in finding Sun-God. When they returned they asked, "Mother, have you lied to us? In the East, we looked everywhere and we could not find our father, the Sun- God."
"He must have gone to the South," she said. Again the Twins set out on another journey, this time to the South, returning without success.
"Please try the West and then the North, if at first you do not find your father in the West," said the Goddess.
She sent the Twins again on their hunting journey, anxious to keep them away and out of sight of the Great Giant. Many moons later, the Twins came back and said, "Mother, have you lied to us four times? Our father was neither in the North nor the West."
"Now I will tell you the truth, my sons," said the Goddess. "Your fathers, the Sun-God and Water-God, live far away in the middle of the great Western Water. Between here and there are great canyons where the walls of the cliffs clap together and would crush you.
"Even if you should succeed in getting through the canyons, there are the terrible reeds that you must cross. Their long knife-like sharp leaves will cut you into pieces.
"If you should escape the reeds, you can never cross the Grand Canyon, which comes first before you can reach the Great Water. You can never, never cross the water where your father's house is in the middle of the Great Water, the Western Ocean."
"But, Mother, we want to go and try to find our fathers," said the Twins.
The Goddess taught the Twins a song of protection for their next journey:
"We are traveling in an Invisible Way to seek our fathers, the Sun-God and the Water-God."
This song she taught them to sing four times, the magic number. Day after day as they traveled along, they sang their song for protection.
One day, as they passed a little spider hole in the ground, they heard a voice say, "Ssh!" four times. The Twins looked into the hole and saw Spider Woman.
"Do not be afraid of me, I am your Grandmother. Come down into my lodge," she said four times.
"We cannot enter your lodge, because your doorway is too small," said the Twins.
"Please blow toward the Eastwind, Southwind, Westwind, and Northwind," Spider Woman called out.
legends say that the Twins blew in the four directions and the entrance enlarged enough for them to go through. Inside and to their amazement, they saw the lodge walls covered with bundles of bones wrapped in spider webs, exactly the way spiders wrap flies in a web.
"Do not be afraid, my grandsons," said Spider Woman. "These are the bones of bad men whom I killed."
Spider Woman talked with the Twins about encounters they might have on their trip. She taught them songs for their protection and explained what they could do to overcome obstacles they might meet on their way. "I will give each of you a magic Feather- Plume. Hold it before you as you travel, straight up or sideways to carry you safely forward," she said to the Twins.
"Be on the look out for a little man with a red head and a striped back. He will resemble a sand-scorpion, only a little larger--about the size of a Jerusalem cricket," she explained.
"Thank you, Grandmother, we'll be on our way," said the Twins.
Many days later, the Twins heard a voice from the ground. It was from the little man with the red head.
"Do not scorn me because I am so small," he said. "I can and want to help you. Put your hands down on the ground and spit into them four times. Now close your fists, saving the spit until you come to the Big Water. There you can wash off the spit."
The Twins did exactly as they were told, and after thanking the little man with the red head, they again began their travel. Soon the canyon walls that smashed together loomed ahead of them.
They repeated Spider Woman's prayers, holding the Feather-Plumes sideways. As they moved forward the clapping walls stopped long enough to allow the Twins to walk through safely.
When they came to the jungle of sharp reeds, again they sang the song Spider Woman taught them, touching the tops of the reeds with their magical Feather-Plumes. Behold! The reeds turned into cattails, which pleased the reeds so much that they quickly opened a wide path for the Twins to pass through. A puzzling encounter for the Twins was the giant cliff. They walked around and around its rim, making a complete circle and finally returning to their starting place.
They were making no forward progress, so they sang songs taught them by their mother and Spider Woman. They prayed over and over again. When they opened their eyes, a beautiful Rainbow appeared, creating a large bridge for them to cross over the Grand Canyon of the Colorado River.
After this spectacular adventure, the Twins continued West for a long time, until they saw the Great Water before them. The Water spread so far, they wondered, "How can we ever reach the Turquoise House of Sun-God, which we know is in the middle of the Great Water?"
The Twins walked down to the beach to the edge of the water and washed the spit off their hands, singing and praying at the same time.
Behold! The Rainbow appeared again! A long Rainbow Bridge stretched before them from the beach to the Turquoise House.
Onto the Rainbow Bridge the Twins raced happily to find their two fathers, the Sun-God and the Water-God, who welcomed them in the Turquoise House at the end of the Rainbow Bridge.
Legends - A Cree Legend
There would come a time when the Earth would be ravaged of it's resources, the sea blackened, the streams poisoned, the deer dropping dead in their tracks.
Just before it was too late, the Indian would regain his spirit and teach the white man reverence for the Earth, banding together with him to become Warriors of the Rainbow.
There was an old lady, from the Cree tribe, named "Eyes of Fire", who prophesied that one day, because of the white mans' or Yo-ne-gis' greed, there would come a time, when the fish would die in the streams, the birds would fall from the air, the waters would be blackened, and the trees would no longer be, mankind as we would know it would all but cease to exist.
There would come a time when the "keepers of the legends, stories, culture rituals, and myths, and all the Ancient Tribal Customs" would be needed to restore us to health. They would be mankind's' key to survival, they were the "Warriors of the Rainbow". There would come a day of awakening when all the peoples of all the tribes would form a New World of Justice, Peace, Freedom and recognition of the Great Spirit.
The "Warriors of the Rainbow" would spread these messages and teach all peoples of the Earth or "Elohi". They would teach them how to live the "Way of the Great Spirit".
They would tell them of how the world today has turned away from the Great Spirit and that is why our Earth is "Sick".
The "Warriors of the Rainbow" would show the peoples that this "Ancient Being" (the Great Spirit), is full of love and understanding, and teach them how to make the Earth (Elohi) beautiful again. These Warriors would give the people principles or rules to follow to make their path right with the world. These principles would be those of the Ancient Tribes. The Warriors of the Rainbow would teach the people of the ancient practices of Unity, Love and Understanding.
They would teach of Harmony among people in all four comers of the Earth.
Like the Ancient Tribes, they would teach the peoples how to pray to the Great Spirit with love that flows like the beautiful mountain stream, and flows along the path to the ocean of life. Once again, they would be able to feel joy in solitude and in councils. They would be free of petty jealousies and love all mankind as their brothers, regardless of color, race or religion. They would feel happiness enter their hearts, and become as one with the entire human race.
Their hearts would be pure and radiate warmth, understanding and respect for all mankind, Nature, and the Great Spirit. They would once again fill their minds, hearts, souls, and deeds with the purest of thoughts. They would seek the beauty of the Master of Life - the Great Spirit! They would find strength and beauty in prayer and the solitudes of life.
Their children would once again be able to run free and enjoy the treasures of Nature and Mother Earth. Free from the fears of toxins and destruction, wrought by the Yo-ne-gi and his practices of greed. The rivers would again run clear, the forests be abundant and beautiful, the animals and birds would be replenished. The powers of the plants and animals would again be respected and conservation of all that is beautiful would become a way of life.
The poor, sick and needy would be cared for by their brothers and sisters of the Earth. These practices would again become a part of their daily lives.
The leaders of the people would be chosen in the old way - not by their political party, or who could speak the loudest, boast the most, or by name calling or mud slinging, but by those whose actions spoke the loudest. Those who demonstrated their love, wisdom, and courage and those who showed that they could and did work for the good of all, would be chosen as the leaders or Chiefs.
Legends state that they would be chosen by their "quality" and not the amount of money they had obtained. Like the thoughtful and devoted "Ancient Chiefs", they would understand the people with love, and see that their young were educated with the love and wisdom of their surroundings. They would show them that miracles can be accomplished to heal this world of its ills, and restore it to health and beauty.
The tasks of these "Warriors of the Rainbow" are many and great. There will be terrifying mountains of ignorance to conquer and they shall find prejudice and hatred. They must be dedicated, unwavering in their strength, and strong of heart. They will find willing hearts and minds that will follow them on this road of returning "Mother Earth" to beauty and plenty - once more.
The day will come, it is not far away. The day that we shall see how we owe our very existence to the people of all tribes that have maintained their culture and heritage. Those that have kept the rituals, stories, legends, and myths alive. It will be with this knowledge, the knowledge that they have preserved, that we shall once again return to "harmony" with Nature, Mother Earth, and mankind. It will be with this knowledge that we shall find our "Key to our Survival".
This is the story of the "Warriors of the Rainbow" and this is my reason for protecting the culture, heritage, and knowledge of my ancestors. I know that the day "Eyes of Fire" spoke of - will come! I want my children and grandchildren to be prepared to accept this task. The task of being one of the........ "Warriors of the Rainbow."
Legends - Coyote Brings Fire (Karok Native American Indians)
There was a time long ago, that Fire Beings were the only people who had fire. They were very pssesive of fire and refused to share it with anyone, people or animals.
This didn't matter so much in spring and summer, but in winter many young children and old people died from the icy cold.
Just before the next winter, some of the animals called a meeting. "We can't let our children and grandparents die from the cold this year," said Squirrel. "We have to get fire from the Fire Beings to keep warm."
"How can we do that?" asked Chipmunk. "The Fire Beings won't share it with us".
"Let's ask Coyote for help" said Frog. "He's crafty and cunning, and he'll know how to get fire".
Coyote listened and thought about the problem. Then he smiled a cunning smile.
"There is a way to get fire from the selfish Fire Beings" he said.
"How? How can we do that?" asked Chipmunk
"We'll take it!" answered Coyote slyly. "I have a plan. Follow me!"
Coyote lead the animals to the Fire Beings' camp on top of the mountain. The others hid in the bushes while Coyote walked into the camp.
"Who's there?" screeched one of the Beings. "Someone's trying to steal our fire". "It's all right," hissed another. "It's only an old moth eaten coyote". "Huummph! Moth eaten indeed," thought Coyote, but he didn't say anything. He lay down by the fire and pretended to go to sleep, keeping one eye half open.
Three Fire Beings sat nearby. One was huge and ugly - with a small bald head and big rolls of fat around his stomach. Snot dripped in long slimy strands from his nose. The other two were old hags, with eyes like red stones and clawed hands like a vulture.
After a few minutes, a banging noise started in the bushes. It was Coyote's friends.
"What's that horrible noise?" cried the fat ugly Fire Being. "Who's there?" The three of them went to investigate.
Seeing his chance, Coyote snatched up a glowing piece of fire and ran off down the mountain as fast as he could. Realising they had been tricked, the two hags screamed and chased after him. The big fat bald Fire Being just stood there, with more snot dripping from his nose.
The hags were old, but they could run like the wind. They nearly caught Coyote. One of them stretched out her claws and touched the tip of his tail. The heat turned the hairs white.
Coyote threw the fire into the air towards Squirrel. She caught it in her tail and scampered off over stumps and boulders. The fire scorched her so badly, that her tail curled up over her back. She was almost caught, until Chipmunk bounded up beside her.
"Me! Me! Throw it to me!" Catching the fire, Chipmunk turned to run. One of the hags clawed her back leaving three stripes down it. Chipmunk threw the fire to Frog, but one of the Beings grabbed his tail.
"Let me go!" yelled Frog. He squirmed and struggled so much that his eyeballs bulged and he thought his heart would burst.
With one last mighty leap he tore himself free, leaving his beautiful long tail behind, still wriggling in the hag's claw.
Frog threw the fire to Wood and Wood swallowed it. The Fire Beings hit Wood and kicked him and cut him with their knives, but still Wood didn't spit out the fire.
At last the hags gave up and went home, mumbling to themselves: "Oh dear, I think I broke a nail". "Never mind. We'll have frog's tail soup tonight." "Mmm! That sounds nice".
Coyote called all the animals together to teach them how to get the fire from Wood.
"Fire is a gift for everyone. If you rub two dry sticks of Wood together very fast Wood will get itchy and give you some fire. From now on you will be warm in winter".
"I told you Coyote was cunning" said Frog.
"Yes, but I wonder what frog's tail soup tastes like?" asked Squirrel.
And that is why today, Coyote's tail has a white tip, squirrel's tail curls around over her back, chipmunk's coat has white stripes and frog has no tail.
But everyone is warm in winter.
Legends - Legend of the Beautiful Rainbow Bridge (A Legend From Guam)
One of the most commom legends of this country says that long, long ago, there were many Gods who lived on the island of Guam. The native people decided to get rid of, or to destroy, all of the Gods.
Legend has it they misbehaved, and didn't want the Gods watching over them.
There was one girl named Veronica, however, who did not want the Gods banned from the island because she strongly believed in their magical powers and wanted them to favor her. When the Gods heard of the plan of the people, they decided to destroy all of the people of the island, except Veronica. They decided that they would build a bridge of beautiful colors for Veronica to climb upon while they destroyed the others. Veronica climbed on the bridge to escape, and today you can see the bridge of beautiful colors made especially for Veronica. The bridge is called the rainbow.
As you can see many cultures have their particular myths, legends and folk tales. Legends can be inspirational, entertaining and also educational. Many morals are learned from legends and folk tales, and myths inspire imagination!
These are some of the legends that are fun and easy for children to understand. Why not tell one of these legends as a bedtime story?
Legends, myths and folk tales live forever, that's why people who's lives endure the test of time are known as legends in our society.
A legend is forever, myths are magical, and rainbows inspire them all! In fact rainbows are legends unto themselves the greatest legend of all, that of God's promise to never flood the earth again was inspired by one!
Legends - The Legend of the First Rainbow (Phillipines)
In the first of our Phillipine legends a farmer noticed that a wall he built keeps getting knocked down. He waits one evening and surprises three star maidens. Two are able to escape while one is left behind because the farmer hid her magic wings. They get married and have a son.
One day, the star maiden finds her missing wings hidden near their house, wears them and takes her son up to her skyworld. The gods take pity on the farmer and so they built a rainbow so that the mortal can sometimes climb up to the sky to visit his wife and son.
Legends - The Rainbow (Arawak Indians)
The forest dwarfs had caught Yobuenahuaboshka in an ambush and cut off his head. The head bumped its way back to the land of the Cashinahuas. Although it had learned to jump and balance gracefully, nobody wanted a head without a body.
"Mother, brothers, countrymen," it said with a sigh, "Why do you reject me? Why are you ashamed of me?"
To stop the complaints and get rid of the head, the mother proposed that it should change itself into something, but the head refused to change into what already existed. The head thought, dreamed, figured. The moon didn't exist. The rainbow didn't exist.
The head asked for seven little balls of thread of all colors. It took aim and threw the balls into the sky one after the other. The balls got hooked up beyond the clouds; the threads gently unraveled toward the earth.
Before going up, the head warned: "Whoever doesn't recognize me will be punished. When you see me up there, say: 'There's the high and handsome Yobuenahuaboshka!'" Then it plaited the seven hanging threads together and climbed up the rope to the sky.
That night a white gash appeared for the first time among the stars. A girl raised her eyes and asked in astonishment: "What's that?" Immediately a red parrot swooped upon her, gave a sudden twirl, and pricked her between the legs with his sharp-pointed tail. The girl bled. From that moment, women bleed when the moon says so.
Next morning the cord of seven colors blazed in the sky. A man pointed his finger at it. "Look, look! How extraordinary!" he said, and fell down.
That was the first time that someone died.
Legends - The Rainbow (Africa)
There was once a beautiful woman named Rain who lived in the sky. She wore a rainbow around her waist and she was married to the Creator of the Earth and they had three beautiful daughters together.
When the eldest daughter grew up she asked her mother if she could go down to the Earth. Her mother reluctantly gave her permission, but as soon as she arrived on Earth she married to hunter and remained there.
While she was gone Rain had another child. This time it was a boy whom she called Son-eib. When Son-eib was old enough his sisters asked Rain if they could take him down to see the world. In fear of losing them all Rain refused to grant their request. Then a friend named Wolf, who liked the two daughters, said he would accompany them down and look after them. The father believed this wicked beast and gave his permission.
As soon as they got to earth they went to a village. A woman in the village saw Son-eib and thought that he looked very familiar. She offered them all food and Wolf accepted her gift. They all ate of this food except Son-eib, as Wolf told everybody that he was not a person but merely a thing. Son-eib turned away and went to sit in the grass, all by himself. While sitting there he caught a little red bird and concealed it under his coat.
That night the woman offered them shelter in her house. But Wolf did not allow the boy to sleep inside the house and said that Son-eib should sleep in the small hut outside. While everybody was sleeping Wolf went and fetched all the bad people in the village. They set fire to the hut killing poor Son-eib. However, the little bird managed to escape. It flew up into the sky and went straight to Rain, the boy's mother.
As soon as it arrived it told Rain of what had happened. Rain told her husband and they became furious. A little while later the people of the village saw a great storm approaching them fast and around its waist was a rainbow. Lightning started to flash striking all around them. Only Wolf and his fellow bad people were hit and killed. Then a mighty voice came from the sky with the words: "Don't kill the Children of the Sky!"
Ever since this all Bushmen are afraid of the rainbow. When the bushmen see a rainbow they hit on sticks and shout for it to go away!
Other Kinds of Legends
Legends - Romulus and Remus
The story of the twins, sons of the god of War, Mars. In the legend Romulus and Remus are orphaned when their mother, Silvia is imprisoned and the infants are cast into the Tiber River. They are set ashore under a fig tree and found by a she wolf and a woodpecker, animals that are sacred to Mars. The twins are fed and nursed by the animals, until Faustulus, the king's herdsman finds them and raises them with his wife. They left home to found their new kingdom on the shores of that same river where they had many years before begun their legendary lives.
As children will often do, Romulus and Remus could agree upon neither the location of the new city nor a name for it. It was during this strife that Romulus killed his twin, and thereupon built the new settlement.
Lacking for inhabitants, the new king called upon outcasts from outlying communities to come to his new homeland and to settle upon the Capitoline Hill where Romulus built a sanctuary for misfits of other communities.
But, alas, Romulus soon discovered that his city was lacking for women, and he announced that games were to be celebrated in honor of the god, Consus, and he thereby invited the Latins and the Sabines to his celebration. It was during this event that the Romans lashed out upon the virgins of the community and carried them away.
Romulus' reign was tainted with this story of the rape of the Sabine women, whose tribe, under the leadership of Titus Tatius, allegedly infiltrated the new Latin lands and battled with the inhabitants of Latium, thus forming a union of the two tribes early in the history of ancient Rome.
During the ensuing war, the Sabine women prayed for peace, and they begged that the two tribes unite and form one people, one nation. Unfortunately, the peace was short-lived, and Titus Tatius, who was at this time co-reigning with Romulus, was killed in a confrontation. Thus, Romulus continued his reign alone not only over the Latins but also over the Sabines.
His 37-year reign as the first king of Rome ended when his father, Mars, carried him away to heaven in a chariot of fire. Henceforth, Romulus demanded to be known as " Quirinus," the guardian god to the Romans.
Legends -Signy (Norse Legend)
Norse legends feature many animals, in this one it is a wolf. Signy was the daughter of Volsung, a descendant of Odin. Married against her will to King Siggeir, she tried to warn her father and her ten brothers about his plot against them, but she and her brothers were ambushed in a forest and bound to a fallen tree. Each night a wolf devoured one of them in turn, until only her youngest brother Sigmund was left alive. Signy got a slave to smear Sigmund's face with honey so that the wolf would lick him instead of biting him. Sigmund was thus able to catch the wolf's tongue in his teeth and overcome the beast.
Signy helped Sigmund to plot revenge. She even slept with him in disguise and bore a son named Sinfiotli. When Sinfiotli grew up she placed him in Sigmund's care, but they were both captured by Siggeir. A magic sword freed them and killed Siggeir and his sons. Signy chose to die herself in the burning palace, but not before she had told Sigmund the truth about Sinfiotli's parentage.
Legends - Finn(Irish)
The legendary leader of the Fianna was Finn, also a hero. Much of Finn's adventures and accomplishments were written during the 3rd. century, though earlier accounts have been found in ancient Irish manuscripts. Though many records regarding Finn's life vary, transcripts usually agree on the following:
His father was Cumhail, a chieftan of the Fianna who was mortally wounded in combat before finn's birth by Goal Mac Morn, the leader of a rival clan.
Finn's mother was concerned about his survival and sent him away to the care of two of her closest friends, Bodbal (a Druid priestess) and a female warrior known as Fiachel.
They successfully protected andf raised Finn in the mountains, teaching him both the skills of a warrior and imparting to him the knowledge of the Druids which Finn planned to use to avenge his father's death.
In the meantime to gain some experience, he attempted to serve under several Kings, however, on discovering who he was, sent him away for fear of retaliation from Goal Mac Morn.
Finn became discouraged and retreated to the wilderness where he met an aging poet who lived near the river Boyne and with whom he stayed for several years.
The poet charged Finn with catching the Salmon of Knowledge and cooking it, though he was not allowed to eat it.
While it was cooking, he bursted a blister on the Salmon and thus inherited its knowledge. His training was now complete, and he could venture forth to avenge the death of his beloved father.
Finn gathered 150 of the fiercest Fianna warriors and went to battle against Goal Mac Morn. The battle was long and fierce, however Finn and his warrior's prevailed, Finn himself eventually slaying the man who murdered his father.
He continued to be a great leader of the Fianna, winning many battles against other rival clans, and in doing so became one of the most famous of Celtic legends.
Legends - Epona - Gaelic
The Celtic horse goddess whose authority extended even beyond death, accompanying the soul on its final journey. She was worshipped throughout entire Gaul, and as far as the Danube and Rome. Her cult was eventually adopted by the Roman army and they spread her worship wherever they went. She was the only Celtic Goddess to be honored by the Romans with a temple in their capital city. Among the Gaulish Celts themselves, she was worshipped as goddess of horses, asses, mules, oxen, and, to an extent, springs and rivers.
Epona is depicted sitting side saddle or lying on a horse, or standing with multiple horses around her. Her symbol is the Cornucopia ("horn of plenty") which suggests that she could (originally) have been a fertility goddess. She is also identified with the Celtic goddess Edain.
Legends -Fand - Gaelic
In Celtic legends Fand is a faery queen, who was once married to the sea god Manannan. After he left her she was preyed upon by three Fomorian warriors in a battle for control of the Irish Sea. Her only hope in winning the battle was to send for the hero Cuchulainn who would only agree to come, if she would marry him. She reluctantly acquiesced to his wishes, though when she met him, she fell as deeply in love with him as he was with her.
Manannan knew that the relationship between the human world and the world of the faery could not continue without in eventually destroying the faeries. He erased the memory of one from the other by drawing his magical mantle between the two lovers. Fand was also a minor sea goddess who made her home both in the Otherworld and on the Islands of Man. With her sister, Liban, she was one of the twin goddesses of health and earthly pleasures. She was also known as "Pearl of Beauty". Some scholars believe she was a native Manx deity who was absorbed in the Irish mythology.
Legends - Gwydion - Gaelic
Gwydion, one of the nephews of Math ap Mathonwy, and brother of Arianrhod. He contrived Gilfaethwy's rape of the maiden Goewin, Math's foot holder. He did this by starting a war with Pryderi of Dyfed, stealing his pigs, and thus taking Math away on campaign. But he and Gilfaethwy doubled back and Gwydion forced the other women to leave Goewin with Gilfaethwy, who raped her.
When she confessed this to Math, he levied as punishment on his nephews that they spent three years as animals, Gwydion as a stag, a wild sow, and a wolf, breeding each year with his brother Gilfaethwy who was hind, boar, and she-wolf. They produced three offspring, whom Math made human and raised at his court. Afterward, they were restored to the court.
Gwydion raised Arianrhod's virgin-born son Llew Llaw Gyffes, winning for him his name and arms by tricking his mother, and created a woman out of flowers to marry him. After that woman, Blodeuwedd, betrayed Llew to his death, Gwydion restored him to life and turned her into an owl.
Legends – Irish - Nuada
Nuala is also known as Nudd or Ludd, and his name means "Silver Hand." He is the Celtic chieftain-god of healing, the Sun, childbirth, youth, beauty, ocean, dogs, poetry, writing, sorcery, magic, weapons, and warfare. Nuada was king of the Tuatha Dé Danann for seven years before they came to Ireland where they met the Fir Bolg. The Tuatha De and the Fir Bolg battled for Ireland, and in the ensuing fighting Nuala lost an arm. At this time he was removed as king because of his imperfection, but years later, after having his arm replaced with a siver one by the great physician Dian Cecht, he was restored to the throne.
The young and vigorous Lugh soon joined Nuada's court, and the king, realizing that this strong and skillful youth could lead the Tuatha Dé against their bitter enemies the Fomorians, stood down in his favor. In the second Battle of Mag Tuired which followed, Nuada was tragically killed and beheaded by Balor. However he was avenged by Lugh who killed Balor and helped to lead the Tuatha Dé to victory.
Legends - Fomorians(Irish)
The Formorians were a legendary race of giants similar to the Nephilim of the Bible, though they were not the offspring of human/angel relations. They were a race of bullies however, plundering and pillaging around the Irish countryside.
Being native to Ireland, the Formorians fended off invaders such as the Partholons, the first race to attempt an invasion of Ireland, the Nemeds who were defeated and enslaved after a single battle, and the Firblogs who eventually defeated the Formorians but allowed them to dwell in peace alongside their conquerors.
After a time of peace the Irish race of gods, the Tuatha Dé Danann arrived on the scene. The Tuatha Dé Danann defeated the Firblogs, thus ending their rule, and again allowed the Fomorians to dwell in peace as their subjects.
The Fomorians were given the province of Connacht as their own territory and marriages between them and the Tuatha Dé Danann became common, and they were governed in Connacht by their own King, Balor.
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Legends - Mother Holla's Pond (Germany)
The names of many landmarks in the Meissen Mountains of Hessen allude to their ancient origins. Of all such places, the strangest is Mother Holla's Pond. It lies in one corner of a swampy meadow and is only about forty or fifty feet across. The entire meadow is encircled by a stone wall that has sunk halfway into the marshy ground. It happens from time to time that a horse ventures beyond the wall and sinks out of sight into the marsh.
The people tell many things about Mother Holla, both good and bad. It is said that women who bathe in her pond, become healthy and fertile. Mother Holla is said to deliver newborn children from her well. She has flowers, fruits, and cakes in her underground realm. She distributes these and the produce from her fantastic gardens to those she meets -- if she likes them.
Mother Holla is very tidy and keeps a neat household. When it snows in man's world then everyone knows that Mother Holla is shaking out her feather beds till the flakes drift around in the wind.
She punishes girls who are lazy at the spinning wheel by soiling their linens, tangling their yarn, even setting fire to their flax. However, she rewards the hard-working girls by presenting them with new spindles and by doing their spinning for them at night. When these girls wake in the morning, they often find their spools full of newly spun yarn. But she also visits the lazy girls at night. She pulls the covers off their beds, carries them out into the night, and places them on cold, hard cobblestones where they wake up freezing.
Mother Holla also rewards hard-working maidens who at dawn fetch water from the wells in finely polished pails, by placing silver coins in their buckets. She likes to lure children into her pond -- the good ones she rewards with success and fortune; the evil ones become changellings.
Each year Mother Holla wanders around the countryside bestowing fertility on the fields. However, she can also strike terror into the hearts of the people when she roars through the forests, leading raging hordes.
Sometimes she appears as the beautiful White Woman, floating or hovering above the surface of her pond. At other times, though, she is invisible. Then one hears only the pealing of her bells and other dark rumblings from deep beneath the surface.
Legends - Tiamat and Apsu - Babylon
The Babylonian creation epic, Enuma Elish, tells of how, in the beginning there was nothing save for two elements: Apsu - the male spirit of fresh water and the abyss, and Tiamat - the female spirit of salt water and chaos. Their children were the gods, but, becoming increasingly enraged by their offsprings' unruly ways, Apsu sought to destroy them. But the gods struck first and destroyed Apsu.
Tiamat lived on and plotted her revenge. She spawned eleven monsters to help her make war upon her children; the viper, the shark, the scorpion man, the storm demon, the great lion, the dragon, the mad dog and four nameless ones. Marduk was the only god who fought Tiamat. There was an epic struggle but Marduk was finally able to shoot an arrow into her mouth which split her heart in two. He then divided her body into two parts - the sky and the land. Marduk cut the head off one of Tiamat's advisers and from the blood created humanity to serve as slaves to the gods.
In legends Tiamat is portrayed in several different ways, but she was originally drawn as a four-legged creature with head and forequarters of a lion, a scaled body, feathery wings, an eagle's hind legs and a forked tongue. She also had a hide that was impervious to all weapons.
Legends - Azhi Dahaki - Persia
Angra Mainyu, the Father of Lies, created Azhi Dahaki to rid the world of righteousness by extinguishing the light of a sacred flame known as The Divine Glory. When Atar, the god of fire, tried to save the flame, the dragon threatened to destroy the light of his fire forever, but Atar swore he would send his flames throughout the dragon's body. Azhi Dahaki drew back, but the divine hero Thraetaona bound and imprisoned the dragon on Mount Demavend near the Caspian Sea for the damage he had done to humankind on his evil quest.
It is believed that at the end of the world the dragon will be freed and, in his long repressed fury, will devour one third of all men and animals before the hero Keresaspa destroys him.
Azhi Dahaki appears as a fearsome three-headed dragon and his body is filled with spiders, lizards and snakes; if he were ever cut open then these venomous creatures would infect the world.
Legends -The Great Fight (Australia)
The two men stood facing each other some distance apart; each held a long spear poised for throwing in one hand, while in the other was held a wooden shield which partly covered his body. At a given signal from the younger brother the fight commenced. The spears flew through the air like beams of light, and their long shafts quivered as they missed their mark, and buried deep in the trees.
Both the men were very skilled spear-throwers, and the fight was a long one. No sound was heard except the hissing of the spears in flight, the heavy breathing of the men, who were tired through their great exertions, and the dull thud of their feet on the grass as they leapt forward. In a desperate effort to end the fight, Byama threw a spear at his enemy's throat with all his strength. Thoorkook saw it coming, and instantly raised his shield to guard himself. The spear was hurled with such force, however, that it pierced the wooden shield, entered Thoorkook's throat, and came out on the other side.
At the death of their enemy, the brothers rejoiced, and, before leaving for their camp, they turned his body into a Mopoke, a dismal night bird with a very harsh cry. When they returned to their camp the brothers found that the mothers of the dead boys would not cease crying, and they were so moved with pity at the women's grief that they turned them into Curlews. When you hear the mournful cry of the Curlews in the bush, you will know it is the mothers crying for their little boys they lost so long ago.
Legends - How the Native Bear Lost His Tail (Australia)
The native bear and the whip-tail kangaroo were very friendly. They shared the same gunyah, and hunted together, and were very proud of their long tails. At this time a drought was over the land. Water was very scarce, and the two friends had camped by a shallow waterhole which contained some stagnant water. It was very nauseating to have to drink such water after the clear springs of the mountains. Nevertheless, it saved them from dying of thirst. At sunset banks of dark clouds would float low across the sky, and give promise of heavy rain, but at sunrise the sky would be as bright and clear as before, At last even the supply of stagnant water was exhausted, and the two friends were in a desperate plight.
After some time the kangaroo spoke and said: "When my mother carried me in her pouch I remember such a drought as this. The birds fell from the trees, the animals died fighting around dry waterholes, and the trees withered and died. My mother travelled far with me, over the mountains and down by the river bed, but she travelled slowly, as hunger and thirst had made her very weak, and I was heavy to carry. Then another kangaroo spoke to her and said: 'Why do you carry such a heavy burden? You will surely die. Throw him into the bush and come with me, for I will travel fast and take you to water.' My mother would not leave me to die, but struggled on, and the other kangaroo left her to die from thirst. Wearied by her heavy burden, she struggled on until she again came to a sandy river bed. She now dug a deep hole in the sand, which slowly filled with cool, clear water. We camped by this waterhole until the rain came. I shall go to the river and see if I can dig and find water, for if we stay here we shall surely perish from thirst."
The native bear was delighted at the suggestion, and said: "Yes! Let us both go down to the river bed. I have very strong arms, and will help you." They made their way to the river, but, before reaching it, stumbled across some of their friends who had died of thirst. This made them very serious and determined. When they reached the river, the sun was very hot and they were very tired. The native bear suggested that the kangaroo should start digging, as he knew most about it. The kangaroo went to work with a will, and dug a deep hole, but no signs of water were visible. The kangaroo was exhausted with his work, and asked the native bear to help him. The native bear was very cunning, and said: "I would willingly help you, but I am feeling very ill; the sun is very hot, and I am afraid I am going to die." The kangaroo was very sorry for his friend, and set to work again without complaining.
At last his work was rewarded. A trickle of water appeared in the bottom of the hole, and gradually increased until it filled it to overflowing. The kangaroo went over to his friend, and, touching him gently on the shoulder, said: "I have discovered water, and will bring some to you." But the native bear was only shamming, and dashed straight to the waterhole without even replying to the surprised kangaroo. When the native bear bent down to drink the water his tail stuck out like a dry stick. The kangaroo, who could now see the despicable cunning of his friend, was very angry, and, seizing his boomerang, cut off the tail of the drinker as it projected above the waterhole. To this day the native bear has no tail as an evidence of his former laziness and cunning.
Legends - The King of Korea
Once there was a wise king in Korea. The king had a fifteen year old son who had grown up in luxury in his palace surroundings, tended by servants and the like. The King was worried that his son would lack the necessary experience and heart to be a good king himself when he grew up. The king summoned a wise man from the village for advice.
After coming to the palace and meeting with the king, the old man promised to teach the prince how to be wise. His first step in doing so was to take the young boy into the deep woods. After t6eaching the prince how to forage for food, to build a shelter and generally to survive in the wild, the old man left him there promising to return one year later.
One year later the old man found the prince where he had left him. He asked the prince how he was making out. “I hate it here”, he said, “I need my servants and some comfort, take me home.” “That’s fine” said the old man, “you have made good progress, but not enough.” He left the prince for another year.
After the second year had passed the old man returned to the forest once again. He asked the prince again how he was doing and what he thought of the forest. “I see birds, I see animals, I see trees and I see flowers” said the prince. He had begun to appreciate his surroundings and to recognize his role in them. “That is excellent progress” said the wise old man, “but still not enough”. The prince accepted his decision and merely said “Okay, see you next year”.
Upon returning the following year the old man asked the prince the same question once again. “I feel the birds, I feel the animals, I feel the trees and the flowers” he responded. The wise old man was delighted. “Now I can take you home he said”. “If you can feel your surroundings, you will understand the feelings of your people and you will make a good king.”
Legends -The Young Man and the Coconut Tree
A Legend from Malaysia
Once there lived an old man, s o old that some considered him immortal. He was rumored by some to be well over a thousand years old; was very wise, and knew much about many things. People would visit him in the cave where he lived close to the seashore and asked for help in solving their problems, or advice on what actions to take in certain circumstances.
At one point he recieved a visit from a young man who had a burning desire to spend his life in service; helping people. He asked the old man, "Oh wise one, I want to spend my life giving service to the community. I want my life's work to be doing something useful for the people. What do you recommend?"
"That is a fine wish" said the old man. "Take this magic box, but do not open it until you are at home. If you open it beforehand, your life will be transformed."
The young man thanked him and went on his way. But curiosity got the best of him, and he stopped to open the box. Upon opening the magic box, the young man was transformed into a coconut tree. Thgough it was his punishment for disobedience, he still got his wish, as the coconut tree is very useful to many people!
Courtesy of Legends From Topics Magazine
We hope you've enjoyed this sampling of myths and legends from Hawaii and other cultures around the world. We also have free stories and bedtime stories in our children's section. Myths, folk tales and legends can be some of the most fun ways to learn about other cultures. Take the time to browse our sections on Greek and Roman mythology where you'll find myths and legends from those cultures. We even have a section on pirate and viking legends and a section on popular myths. Some Irish myths and legends along with some information about the Dublin area. And don't miss our section on the many myths of the Bermuda Triangle!
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